What do you picture when you think “salesperson”? Some slick-talking huckster who’s willing to sell their grandmother if the price is right? That image might give you the creeps in any context, but especially so if you're like many accountants whose primary goal is to gain client trust.
Pitching your accounting services to prospects may not be your cup of tea, but it’s a necessary part of running your firm. Let’s look at some ways you can make the experience more comfortable and successful.
1. Rethink Your Goal
The first step to adding sales skills to your resume is to reframe how you think about them. Your job isn’t to get everything you can out of a prospect (that would be tacky). Instead, try to see yourself as an ally – someone who has specialized knowledge that can help their business grow. That way your main objective is helping the prospect solve a problem.
Pro tip: Sometimes it’s easier to position yourself as a collaborator when it's a cornerstone of your firm’s value proposition. If you don't have a value proposition yet, write a statement that explains how your firm addresses your core clients’ needs. For more tips, check out AccountingWeb's article “Value Proposition Example for a Professional Service Provider.”
2. Do More Listening, Less Talking
Experienced salespeople know that the key to landing a client is listening. Talking about your services only matters if they match what the client needs, and you can only find that out if you listen to their problems.
Remember that the desire to be heard is a fundamental part of human nature. Listening to a prospect lets them know you’re interested in more than selling a service.
Pro tip: Listening doesn't mean you need to be completely quiet. In fact, the author of “CPAs Should Focus on ‘Pain,’ Not Selling” suggests that close listening prepares you to ask questions that help you tailor your solution to the prospect's concerns.
3. Nurture Relationships
According to CMO, the Gartner Group claims 80 percent of your future profits will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers. That alone makes it clear how valuable it is to keep your current clients in house.
But if that’s not enough, remember that happy clients may…
- Tell other small-business owners how awesome you are.
- Refer your firm to their friends.
Ultimately, dedicating a chunk of your marketing budget to nurturing current relationships can pay off.
Pro tip: Not sure how to nurture a client? Start by giving them what they need when they need it. Get examples in “3 Tips to Make Life Easier for You and Your Small-Business Clients.”
4. Look for Partnerships
Word-of-mouth advertising and client referrals are a big win for your accounting firm. Essentially, you get a chance to acquire new clients just by being good at what you do. That’s living the dream.
But there are other ways to earn referrals. Your first choice may be to partner with professionals who see people on the verge of a major change in their taxes, such as…
- Probate lawyers.
- Real estate agents.
- Business consultants.
But you’re only limited by your own imagination. For example, considering the stress people face during tax season, you may want to connect with:
- Massage therapists.
- Spa owners.
Pro tip: If you decide to go the professional route, you may want to look at independent insurance agents. Accountants are a valuable referral source most agents overlook.
January, February, and April aren’t just nightmare months for your clients. Get prepared for your own whirlwind of activity with the tips in “How Accountants Can Batten Down the Hatches for Tax Season.”