How to interest business owners and get them to continue discussing with you regarding chainging accountants. This is why new contacts tell you they don't want to change CPAs...

Accounting Prospects Decision Process

CPA Marketing Tips - Premiere Online Practice Management Guide for Accounting Professionals
How to keep your prospect from deciding NO?
Sales leads, contacts and prospective clients you get for your CPA firm or Accounting practice are very valuable. Here's advice on how to ensure you KEEP the prospects instead of losing contacts or leads to "sudden death" in sales.

Modern Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course

Why new contacts will almost always tell you they don't want to change CPAs

Having had experience with accounting or CPA service prospects, you know it isn't at all that simple to sign them on as new clients. No matter how many experts explain enthusiastically how EASY it is... KNOW it isn't easy.

And you are RIGHT. It is silly to explain away the multitude of problems that you face with a new prospective client. In most cases, that's where the work BEGINS.

With REFERRALS, it can be different. A genuine referral is actively looking for a CPA and you have been highly recommended to him by someone he respects and trust. Usually that someone is already a client of yours.

But apart from these few cases a year, you have your work cut out for you with a basic prospective client.

Most new contacts have a tendency to over-react to a sales situation and pull back. You know, they talk to you for a few moments and then they want to finish the conversation... telling you they will "call you back" - and usually never do.

This withdrawal factor is so predominant in sales that an estimated 90% of contacts end very fast with the prospect pulling back after a question or two... with vague promises to "call back once he has thought about it."

It's a major barrier to your marketing and sales efforts. So, let's take a look at what it actually is and what's the cause of it.

- Tax return Parramatta -


Uncertainty introduced by possibility of change

When a person finds out about some new possibility, he reacts in a funny way. Instead of jumping at it, most people become VERY CAUTIOUS and actually SLOW DOWN and do NOTHING.

It does not matter what the new thing is. The only thing that is required is that it requires commitment ABOVE the level of what is know as the "impulse purchase."

A new kind of sandwich will not make anyone uncertain or worried. It is such a small thing - you buy it on an impulse. A couple of dollars... not a big deal.

Buying a house WILL get most everyone uncertain and worried to a large degree. You'll worry about paying too much, the foundation not being sound - you check and doublecheck so you won't make some major mistake... well, you know how it is.

The only difference between these two transactions is the SIZE of the commitment. The money, yes - but it's also the commitment. Buy a house and you'll have to spend a long time there. You do it because you want IMPROVEMENT... but what if it turns out to be the opposite? Then you're STUCK with it!

I'm not comparing you to a house - but as decisions go, changing from a CPA to another is an issue of SIMILAR MAGNITUDE for many business owners.

If you look at it from his viewpoint, you'll see that you are asking him to put his BUSINESS in your hands, in a manner of speaking. A CPA is also his confidant and guide. There's a lot at stake - a lot of risks involved. That's how HE sees it.

A house you can have inspected by experts. Real estate transactions have certain legislation that give some sense of security to the buyer.

But how is the business owner going to have a CPA "inspected?" He has no way of evaluating your professional skills and expertise - and he doesn't have anyone to turn to.

Sure - there are rules of professional conduct, you have a license... but I'm not talking "logical" here - I'm talking "prospect's fears and ignorance of accountancy."

Like it or not, that's what you'll be judged by. You have to find ways to still those fears and install trust in his mind.


To decide or not to decide?

Now, let us look at what making a decision is in this context. Your business owner faces a new possibility that both interests and worries him - he is tempted by the GOOD that it appears to promise but doesn't want to make a mistake, right?

Once this NEW POSSIBILITY has entered his life - he has become aware of it - it necessitates that he makes one out of FOUR decisions.

He can decide to GO FOR IT. In other words, to grab the opportunity when it presents itself and sign on. But the positive decision is the hardest one to make - it requires most... courage and LOTS of information to base the decision on.

Positive decision failing, he can decide to CONTINUE finding out about it. But this will also ensure his indecision continues and that's something he is liable to react to by RUSHING the decision. To KEEP him at this "finding out about it" phase you need to DO something active.

That failing, he can decide to DROP this new opportunity, decide "no" and just continue with his current CPA just like before. The negative decision is much easier to make - it takes a lot less courage and you don't really need much information to make the decision.

If you PRESSURE him too early (read: when he hasn't got ENOUGH information to decide "YES") he will usually get back at you by deciding "NO."

If you don't pressure him but don't give enough information either - and above all, don't set ANY dead line to your sales system, then he will most likely end up with the last category of decisions:

He decide NOT TO DECIDE at all... and just do nothing about it. This is the prospect we've all grown to dislike: He wants time to think. You call him next week. He hasn't had time, so he tells you to call a week from then. When you call... you guessed it - he AGAIN hasn't had time to look it over... and so it continues.

He won't make a decision at all - but he won't tell you "no" either. See - he wants to KEEP this opportunity and yet NOT take the risks involved in TAKING it.

It is extremely easy to decide to postpone the decision to unknown future. This actually means NOT DECIDING at all but he will explain it to himself as a "decision" to postpone because it sound a lot better. Nobody wants to be considered indecisive - regardless of facts.

It is known as the "wanting to eat & keep the cake" -syndrome; the prospect wants to keep this possibility but is too scared to take it.


The easy way out

The pressures people feel in a sales situation are enormous. It's a reaction most people cannot control. It makes them uncomfortable, stressed - even hostile at times.

The easy way out is to decide NO. It is a lot easier to decide NOT to try an opportunity than to try it.

This leads to an amusing phenomenon. Most prospects will sooner or later start to look for reasons why what is being offered to them is NOT SUITED for them.

They'll want you to have a hundred identical firms - same industry, size, specialiazation - as clients... and if you don't they'll tell you how their line of business is SO unique.

Or, they'll want a huge number of references, then don't call these... and if you ask why, it's "because you would only have give me satisfied clients as references."

See - they are ONLY LOOKING FOR AN EXCUSE TO SAY NO. It doesn't matter how ridiculous that excuse is - they won't see it.

If it gets to this, you cannot win. A prospect that's running scared cannot be reasoned with any more. That should have happened BEFORE he got so scared...

Now, it is very, very important to realize that the first thing most people will try to find is something that would "make it right NOT to be interested in this new opportunity."

Weird as it may seem, that's what people do. It is the MOST USUAL WAY to handle any new suggestions. See, it is way beyond most human beings to admit being too lazy or scared to DO something about the problem they have - the one they came to you to get a solution for.

So you need to understand that even if your prospect is VERY DISSATISFIED with his present CPA... he is still very, very liable to suddenly "find out a valid reason why changing CPAs right now is not the clever thing to do..." or why YOUR service, excellent in all aspects as it may seem, is "not suited" for him!

It's the easy way out from an situation where a decision should be made.

I won't lie to you - there are people who ARE too weak and scared to make decisions... things just HAPPEN to them as the outside world takes action.

The majority of business owners CAN make decisions.

But YOU must help them to make that decision.

The "escape reaction" is so innate in Man that it is your NUMBER ONE enemy... it is the first and foremost cause of why you lose prospects.

In fact, that's what's happening with the majority of those reading your sales letter - they don't want to DO anything about the bad situation regarding their CPA so they MAKE UP SOME REASON why your service is "not quite what they are looking for."


Keeping the prospect on course and progressing towards a positive decision

The basics are simple. You need to keep your prospect on course and advancing towards a positive certainty about signing onto your services.

To accomplish that, you need several things.

Going "ad lib" at sales isn't very effective. Relying on memory will make you stray many times and forget parts - and change everything over and over again.

Effective sales methods are preplanned and documented into TOOLS you can use when selling. This way, when you find successful actions or parts, you can make sure they STAY that way and continue to produce expected results.

You need to plan carefully what information you give, in which sequence and in what form.

Asking questions - interviewing the prospect to define his wishes and requirements - is a very effective technique. Telling how great you are isn't.

To avoid too quick decisions (remember, a quick decision is usually a negative one!) you ALWAYS AVOID GIVING DEFINITE DATA TOO SOON TO YOUR PROSPECT. You never tell him your prices until the sales meeting. You never tell him all the specifications of your service until the sales meeting. And they will ask, ask and ask for all these things on the phone... but if you give them, you will LOSE THEM.

Don't give out hourly rates. Use them only for pricing services but never offer "hours" or hourly rates as your item of sale. Create a sales system that sells only tailor-made services for each individual client... so how could you tell him anything BEFORE YOU HAVE INTERVIEWED HIM TO FIND OUT WHAT HE REALLY NEEDS AND WANTS?

Read that last paragraph again. It's one of the secrets of successful CPA & accounting service sales. It also handles most of those "not suited for us" objections. Only a self-confessed moron could say that about a service that is totally tailor-made to meet the individual needs of a client! (Well, you WILL find these too, believe it or not, but it works with most prospects!)


Decision to continue is best

The decision to continue to find out about your services is what you want your prospect to make - it is the only one that will serve you.

Why, then, not the decision to BUY, you may ask?

Because the decision to buy necessitates (99 times out 100) that you spend enough time with your prospect, go through a lot of things with him and give him a lot of information... BEFORE he can actually make a POSITIVE decision to buy.

See, the decision to buy is something you don't want the prospect to decide on before he is really ready. It takes a lot more information to decide YES than to decide NO, see?

So if you push this decision too early, your prospect will not decide YES but something else.

Make it so that he REALLY feels he knows ENOUGH about you, your service, the future cooperation, the benefits... enough to feel he CAN make a risk-free and correct POSITIVE decision.

To achieve that, you just need to keep him going. And once you've reached that stage, THEN you can pressure him to decide. Now he KNOWS what he will LOSE if he doesn't make use of this opportunity.

These factors govern 95 percent of prospects. The remaining five percent can and will make fast positive decisions. But you cannot live on those alone.


So why do most prospects say they don't want to change their CPA?

Finally, we get to the headline of this page - the strange thing that many prospects will listen to you quite a while and then suddenly blurt out they don't really want to change CPAs.

Well, part of it has to do with what was discussed above - it is a nice way to get rid of you at any moment. All the prospect has to say is that he is actually fully satisfied with his present CPA or accountant... and you give up.

See, it is actually a very, very tempting weapon against you - so tempting that some prospects will just use it anyhow. It is so nice to get rid of people... especially those that have a good sales approach!

The more sales oriented your sales approach is, the more you get to hear this old song about your prospect being satisfied with his current CPA.

There are two separate points in time when you get to hear this. One is the beginning of the contact. The prospect is just scared.

The second is much later into the conversation, when you start to feel things are really going fine. You see, if you know how to handle your prospect so that...

-you DON'T give him any data he could decide NO on,

-you keep him continuing to find out more about your services,

-you keep him getting more and more interested in your services...

...then his response to this will be to tell you he doesn't want to change CPAs, funnily enough!

It is a rejection reations for getting too deep into it. Once the prospect gets REALLY INTERESTED, he can no more withdraw on the basis that "it really isn't for us." He is past that point - he gets the "point of no return" jitters, in other words.

Becoming interested, they now must face the idea of having to DO something about it. And that's another "point of resistance" again.

All that YOU need to know is that it is just a sign that something is HAPPENING - something within the decision process of your prospect and that something is towards a YES decision... meaning it is good for you.

Now get this:

It is one those things people say that they don't actually mean what they say.

It's just something that will come out of the prospects mouth and you DON'T take it at face value.

So, what do you need to do about it?

Nothing. You don't need to DO anything about it.

You need to SAY something to handle it. You need to say something very specific.

These things are called "Key Sentences" or "Key Wordings" in sales technology. The concept means that in some very specific situation a workable wording has been developed through extensive use and testing.

Responding to the prospect with that exact answer or wording will almost always handle the situation and thus allow the sales action to continue.

In other words, these Key Sentences are invaluable little tools that you can use to keep the sales activity alive and your prospect advancing to where he CAN make a positive decision.

Otherwise, you'll lose that prospect right there. And lose him you will unless you say precisely the correct thing.

If you would like to get the ingrediences of this Key Sentence so you can start testing it, here they come. You have to...

-agree in some way with what the prospect says,

-define the concept he voiced in a way that it allows you to continue,

-assure the prospect that you understand he is not changing CPAs,

-install something that will allow your prospect to change his mind about this later so he CAN sign onto your services.

Does it sound a bit complicated? Don't worry, it really isn't, not once you get all the data.

It took us two years to locate this Key Sentence - and believe it or not, we had to interview over 40,000 business owners and find over 5,000 prospects for Practices before we finally found it. It was well worth it. It is something that WORKS almost without exception.

The precise wordings of this and other Key Sentences we have saved to Modern Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course. It also includes the full sales system with ready tools, interviews and forms for each part - all you have to do is READ. The system is in use at CPA firms in 45 states in US and 30 countries worldwide.

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