Despite growing competition, accountants are still the number one most trusted service provider to SME’s, according to research. As such, accountants are in the perfect position to provide advisory services to their clients.
Advances in technology have somewhat shaken the stability of a relationship between an accountant and their clients; previously this relationship tended to last because it was difficult and costly to move accounting firms, now technology makes it easier than ever before for clients to shop around. Today a relationship between an accountant and their client is heavily influenced by the level of services the accountant provides. You need to ensure you gain and retain clients by adding value to their business, and also focus on adding services you can sell to your clients to help grow your own business.
Typically, sales and marketing are creative and almost artistic disciplines that don’t come naturally to many accountants, who are predominantly left-brained, and thus more logical and analytical!
So what can you do?
- Develop a sales team: We're beginning to see accounting firms hiring salespeople as part of their team, not only to find new clients but also sell more services to existing clients. This is still relatively rare in the industry, and if your business plan doesn’t allow for a salesperson at this time you need strategies to sell your services to your client base. Often I hear accountants tell me that their clients are too small to want advisory services; that they don’t want to pay for these ‘extras’. The vast majority of business owners are in business to make a profit; if your services are going to accelerate their profits, these services are not ‘extras’ but necessities.
- Referrals: If you have customer referrals use them! Don’t hide them in your inbox or on a hard to reach part of your website. Print them, hand them out, link to them from your website home page.Ask clients you’ve helped whether they will speak to other clients about their experience working with you in growing their business (and if they do, make sure you send them a ‘thank you’ gift). These referrals are invaluable because they instantly prove the worth of your services.
- Free trials: Allow clients to ‘try before they buy’. This assists in turning your services into a tangible for your clients. Invite them for a free consultation where you present them with something to take away
- Find a need and do the analysis: The easiest way to sell anything is to provide goods or services your clients need. You’ll need to find something within their data that they need to focus on. Don’t simply provide them with a report showing their cash a being low. Find out why it’s low. Do they have too much tied up in stock or slow Debtor cycles? Find answers for them and present them during your meeting.
By demonstrating that your services are proven to get results and by providing tangible additions to your services, your clients will be taken on a journey that will help them understand that your services are not only of value but invaluable!
A Spotlight Dashboard is a great way to ‘surprise and delight’ your clients. Not only will they learn something that they can be doing better, but they have a physical document to take away with them and review or share with other stakeholders. Find out how it could help your business today.