|How to find qualified prospective clients for your accounting services? Here are the top secrets to get a competitive edge in prospecting for a CPA firm or accounting practice locally...|
Marketing Accounting Services
How to get an edge over other CPA firms in your area?
|Articles, tips and advice for practicing Accounting Professionals on ways to compete effectively with local CPA or Accounting firms without high expenses. The full accounting service marketing techinques will be in the Professional CPA Marketing & Sales System Home Course.|
How to get an unfair advantage in prospecting over other CPA practices in your area?
Competition among CPAs and accounting professionals is forever present. The more clients you get, the more revenue - and there are only so many businesses in your area.
Supposing you wanted to get a system that would give you a clear edge over the competition in your area - an almost unfair advantage in how you could get prospects like no one else in your area?
It's been known to happen. But there is so much talk and so many theories about marketing, advertising and sales that we better first take a good look at what each of these terms means in general and especially in connection with your Practice.
Now the funny thing about these concepts is that, although we hear these terms used daily, very few of us actually can DEFINE them.
How is a person supposed to devise a clever marketing plan if he or she doesn't even know what marketing actually IS.
Well, let's have a look-see, then.
Creating an accounting product or service and taking it to the market
The headline gives you a workable definition of marketing accounting services or products. That definition then breaks down into several bits an pieces.
When you create a marketing plan, you start with the product or service that you are going to market. It has to be something defined, something with a name - a service for a certain problem with a solution that works.
That "product" has to be of great value to the target audience. In other words, you'll have to find out from THEM what they would want most. That, of course, will also be valuable to them - they'll be willing to pay for it.
Don't confuse this with billing hours or general service.
No, it's something with a name and it usually contains parts and pieces of several services. Put together, they all have a common purpose of solving a definite problem the target audience is proven to have.
You name it and explain it with terms that you get from the target audience. This way, they'll UNDERSTAND exactly what your service is for and what it does.
It goes like this: First, you have to find out from your target group what THEY consider valuable. Now this can be quite an undertaking - partly because you first need to figure out what to ask, how to ask it and then it's a lot of work to get enough business owners to answer your survey.
Tricky or not, you DO need to know what they want and value most. It cannot be something general like "good service" or "CPA services" since this is something you already know. Surveying is an art on it's own because your regular business owner will be quite uninformed about CPA services - so watch that you won't get too many "don't knows" as that will not tell you anything else than that they don't know...
Next, you look at what kind of services you have or can give to accommodate what the target group wants most. This is where you have to be very inventive and look at things from the client's viewpoint - to see all the different smaller services clients could find desirable or useful. It'll be a lot more than you think right now, that's for sure!
You will probably end up listing a lot of services from a TECHNICAL VIEWPOINT. In other words, you will write a list that has things like "audits," "tax filing," "monthly accounts," and "financial consulting" and so on. That is fine, just complete it that way.
THEN take another sheet of paper and write down which benefits each service offers to your clients. Prospects don't buy "service" - they buy SOLUTIONS AND BENEFITS.
Furthermore, they buy them ONLY IF THE BENEFITS MATCH THE ONES THEY MOST WANT.
So, make sure you get all the benefits your services give. This is not the place to be modest. Don't be - people will not "get it" with subtle hints. Be open about the benefits but don't stress your own skills or importance. Confidence is best communicated without self promotion.
Now you should write down and list EVERY SINGLE SERVICE YOUR PRACTICE DELIVERS. Everything, no matter how dumb or insignificant it may seem.
Do you have someone answering the phone? Well, that's nice for clients, isn't it? Do you personally return calls within hours? If yes, don't you think clients appreciate that?
You get the picture. You go through it all with a fine comb, listing EVERY IMAGINABLE SERVICE AND BENEFIT. This is just the planning stage so you need to come up with a BIG list that you can then analyze and deduct from.
The next thing you do is choose those services that give the benefits you found out in your survey were valuable to clients. You understand that you are composing a marketing product - it is different from the TECHNICAL list of things you do for your client. See, those things that your clients don't understand, wouldn't know of, or couldn't care less about you leave out of your PRESENTATION.
In MARKETING there is no point in offering something that is not perceived valuable by your target group. It will only LOWER the response and make your service seem less desirable.
So pick those things that give benefits you now KNOW clients want - based on your survey. DO NOT base it on your own opinion because you are not the one who buys the service. Also, don't make the mistake of interviewing a few of your OWN clients because they will be biased. You're looking for "raw meat" here.
List them up in a logical order, starting from the first contact and all the way to when the prospect-turned-client has used your services for a couple years. Just tell a story of how it goes, what service and benefit you give.
Name your service(s)
Next, name your main product and preferably also the smaller parts of it. You give it a name. Make sure the name communicates what the service is. Make VERY SURE the name uses the key words from your survey - those that clients really want MOST.
A word of warning: Good, workable names for marketing products are rarely snappy and short.
The brand names you hear on commercials are not necessarily researched but most often the clever idea of some ad agency copywriter. The phrase is usually very catchy but the downside is that it seldom departs much information.
Their goal is different from yours. They do it for brand awareness. The purpose is to come up with a snappy, easy-to-remember BRAND to advertise with a multi-million dollar budget - and it has NOTHING to do with marketing accounting services.
So, don't create a cute but meaningless jingle-type name.
First, just write the "what it's for, who it's for, and what it does" down in as many sentences as it takes to explain it CLEARLY. Work on these sentences until you have them communicating EXACTLY the concept you want and as directly as possible.
Next, try to come up with a single longer sentence that covers the most essential parts of the longer service description.
If you can, make it a bit shorter - but be very sure you don't cut out the meaning. It's better to have a longer name if that's what you have to do to get it to communicate.
That it communicates, is the whole idea. And it has to communicate to the TARGET AUDIENCE.
Obviously, you also want to avoid silly names or anything with inadvertent puns, so something like "John Doe's Creative Accounting" is not the way you want to go.
However do not allow the fear of being ridiculed (we all have it) rule your decisions when naming the service.
A descriptive name is worth its weight in gold because it EXPLAINS IMMEDIATELY what it is and even whom it's for. So it's a lot better to form a product name like "Jon Doe's Small Business Financial Back Up Service" than to come up with something that may feel too high-handed for the small business owner - which a name like "CPA Advisory & Financial Analysis Consulting Service" possibly would.
Then it would be good if you could give names to the smaller parts of your service package, using the same principle as with the whole service concept. The names should explain the benefit(s) they give the prospect and/or client.
Now you have a named service concept that has a list of parts in it. Write the main concept on top of a piece of paper with big letters. Then in smaller print under it write a list of each of the smaller parts of the whole, giving the name and a short explanation (remember, clients viewpoint, what does he GET and BENEFIT from it) of each part.
There you have your "created product," per what marketing is. The product you now have will seem both desirable and VALUABLE to your target group - at least compared to what your competitors in the area are offering.
If you've done your homework and reached a dynamite concept, it will seem a lot more valuable to the prospects than what your competition is offering. SO, PUT YOUR PRICE UP A LITTLE BIT. You can, you know.
You should, because a reasonable price increase will in fact make the value of this service even MORE believable. It is benefits people look for, not price - so if you can give them more benefits (or make them understand the benefits they get more successfully than the competition) you can ask a higher price for it. Provided you don't go overboard with this you will actually increase not only your profit margin but also your sales rate!
Next, you have to figure out HOW you can take it to the market - meaning, how you can distribute it in the best way so that it gets sold a lot and at a profitable price.
Advertising: Creating interest that results in contact or action
While your product now presents more value and is more desirable, it still won't guarantee you lots of clients.
First thing you have to do is to create some kind of advertisement in which you LET PEOPLE KNOW YOU HAVE THIS GREAT SERVICE CONCEPT.
The purpose of advertising is to create interest for your service, get people to realize this is something desirable (because of the benefits) and get them to contact you. Obviously, the only reason you advertise is to get prospects - get business owners to contact you.
The most important point in writing your copy is to remember the client's viewpoint, concentrate on the problems that are real to the prospects and make sure you communicate the benefits of your service - which, of course, are the workable solutions to the existing problems.
You can and should test different approaches. Mail out 300 letters with one message and calculate the return percentage. If it is close to 1% or more, you should continue to mail out that letter while you (if you wish) test other messages in the hope of finding even a better one.
Once you do get response, you will get prospects. Now it enters the area of sales.
Sales: Helping your prospect to decide
LOTS of WRONG DATA exists in and about sales. An enormous amount of guesses disguised as facts. Almost everyone you meet seems to know EXACTLY how to close a prospect. However, the actual sales closing percentages prove otherwise.
Now, you may know that every profession becomes the source of often-insensitive jokes and generalizations from OTHER professions or people who are NOT within that profession. You may also know that accounting professionals are considered anything BUT sales experts.
Now, here's an eye-opener for you:
EXPERIENCE HAS PROVEN BEYOND DOUBT THAT AN ACCOUNTING PROFESSIONAL WILL OUTSELL ALL BUT THE VERY TOP SALES PROFESSIONALS.
You don't believe that. That could not be. Doesn't make sense, right?
It is true, it does make very much sense, and furthermore, we will prove it to you!
If a CPA has the correct product, correct approach and the correct tools, he or she will ANY DAY outsell all but the very top sales professionals. Not any service or product... but CPA service.
Let's see why this would be.
In sales, there is a factor that very few people understand. It is called the fear of being closed. It is the most underestimated of forces - and it is a FIERCE power that can and will destroy all your chances of getting a sale unless you know how to avoid it or how to handle it.
Make no mistake - this fear is a MIGHTY enemy that can suddenly take away any and all hope of ever closing the prospect.
The very, very, VERY TOP sales geniuses DO know how to HANDLE the fear of being closed. 99% of salespeople don't and lose the prospect if this fear starts up.
So basically, the safest approach to this is to avoid starting this engine within your prospect - doing all you can to avoid evoking the fear of being closed.
Now, here's the thing: The "macho" approach so widely associated with sales is what most salesmen and women thrive on. Sales action to them is a contest, a fight of two gladiators out to overpower one another.
There can be but ONE winner. If you don't get a sale makes you the loser. If you get it, you win. Sales people are renown for bragging about their "kills" and telling funny stories how they "handled" them and so on.
Not all sales people do this. And, there's nothing wrong about being happy when you succeed. It's the dog-eat-dog ATTITUDE I'm talking about.
It's this attitude makes a salesman PUSH too hard and the wrong way.
As soon as the prospect gets a whiff of this sales action turning into a win-or-lose -game, he will be pulled into it. The fear of being closed is not a rational thing; it is a thing that will make you do ANYTHING SO YOU WON'T "LOSE."
If the salesperson puts the sale into the frame of win-or-lose the prospect will of course make sure the salesperson will NOT WIN.
It's simple enough to do. He just won't buy. Nobody can MAKE him. But can you see how a salesperson can actually trigger this mechanism?
Sales people are usually energetic and very fluent in their communication. They repeat their sales pitches to every client thus reaching a high level of verbal acrobatics. They jump on the prospect, sweet talk, have all the right answers to any objections a prospect might have, and so on.
Can you see where we are coming from? It is just TOO MUCH! It just isn't HUMAN any more. Honestly, haven't ever wanted to really throw a monkey wrench into it - just to see that perfectly oiled machinery cough just once?
Here's something these guys haven't really realized: As a part of the service, the prospect expects to have be allowed to think he or she is right about everything.
The salesman's mistake number one is to give into the temptation to be knowledgeable, to show off how much he knows - they are just TOO right about everything! They have it all solved for the prospect - which basically means that the prospect's problems are "small," "insignificant," and "stupid."
This will make the prospect feel small and belittled. This HUGE problem he has is nothing - so that makes him feel like an idiot.
Don't think it couldn't be this way - or that if it were, the salesmen would realize it.
NEVER MAKE YOUR PROSPECT OR CLIENT FEEL STUPID. Never give in to the temptation to show off your knowledge like the average salesperson tends to.
The thing to do is to help your prospect. HELP the prospect instead of selling. Don't make him feel stupid, don't make him feel hunted, don't argue with him... just HELP him.
There is the proof. Look at how a SALES ORIENTED person will be too aggressive, triggering the fear of being closed, making the prospect feel stupid, trying to get the prospect to BUY, BUY, BUY! Now can you see how a CPA would in fact act quite differently?
The best way also happens to be comfortable
The best sales and marketing system ALLOWS you to be a CPA when handling your prospects - REQUIRES you to be a CPA to succeed with it.
If you whip up a lot of caveman hormones for aggressive selling with make-wrong, know-it-all sales arguments, you only trigger the fear of being closed in the prospect.
A CPA who LISTENS to his prospects (instead of talking) and who is a CPA (not a salesman) will BEAT THE SALES RECORD OF ALMOST ANY PROFESSIONAL SALESMAN ANY DAY.
The purpose of sales is to help your prospect make the decision to buy your service. Well, if you help him to see clearly about his finances... instead of selling... then what do you think he is going to decide?
Once you do have a system and tools that allow you to CONSULT you prospect as if he or she already were your client... you will be a natural. There will be very little problems with selling and you will not get nervous doing what you naturally do. Can you see how that could be?
Good. We have this system for you. CLICK HERE to view the contents of Modern Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course.
It is used by CPA firms, Chartered Accountants and accounting firms world over.
|Which are the effective elements in a CPA service presentation and sales system - which parts are essential if you want RESULTS with certainty?|
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