Earlier this week I had a conversation with someone who, like me, works a lot with accountants. During the discussion, I was asked “what do you think are the top 5 things accountants get wrong with regards to selling?”
It’s a really interesting question, not least because the term “selling” has a bad reputation in the accounting world. To be honest, the answer I gave could equally apply to almost any other profession or sector. Here’s what I said……
1. They assume that clients and potential clients know what help they need.
There’s a fundamental difference between what clients (or customers) know what they want and what they actually need. Often, they don’t know what they need because no one has ever asked them the right questions. Unless you take the time to explore what’s going on in a client’s world (professionally and personally), you’re unlikely to uncover all the opportunities to provide additional services.
2. They assume that clients understand the true value of the services being provided.
The value that we provide our customers is not what we do… it’s why we do it. For example, the value in completing and submitting a personal tax return for a client is not the process of doing this, or even the price that we charge, the value is the peace of mind we provide to the client in knowing that they’re not going to get a brown envelope from HMRC, and that they understand what tax needs to be paid (before it’s actually due). If we don’t explain the value of what we do to our clients, they’ll only ever see us as a cost.
3. They fail to differentiate from the competition
Most businesses, especially accountants, operate in a competitive market. Potential clients have multiple options to choose from and will have done their basic research before they ever make contact with us. If their research doesn’t identify anything that’s different between us and our competitors, what are they going to focus on to make their selection?…. cost!
4. They think that Pitching = Selling
Explaining a list of your services and your fee structure isn’t selling, it’s pitching. Professional selling is the process of identifying problems that our clients have, understanding the impact of not resolving those problems, and then offering solutions to those problems. Think of selling as “helping” and you’ll make a bigger impact and get better results.
5. They think that accountants shouldn’t or don’t need to sell.
Every firm loses clients… whether that’s because they move to another firm, or they cease trading, retire or sell their business. So in order to just stand still, we still need to find new clients. Additionally in an ideal world, we’d want to be working with the right type of clients for us. If we sell professionally, we get to choose which clients we work with.
If you’re an accountant and struggle to sell, would like to improve how you sell, or you’d just like to understand how we might be able to help you, then get in touch.
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