This article includes a few key tips for selling your accounting and bookkeeping services to business clients.
You’re probably familiar with this common phrase: “You never have a second chance to make a good first impression.” This is particularly true when meeting with prospective accounting clients.
You are judged in the first 15 to 20 seconds of meeting anyone new. People judge you, good or bad, first on your appearance including the way you walk and the body language you use. Then they judge you on how you speak. This includes your intonation, any accent you may have, your diction, the extent of your vocabulary, and any slang terms that you drop into the conversation.
The key to making the best first impression is being prepared for a wide variety of situations and responding appropriately to each. Here are four tips to help you:
Smile. People react strongly and instantaneously to the image you portray. If you look stressed out, that image will reflect off them and back at you. So think helpful thoughts and smile.
Look people in the eye. There’s an old myth that if you won’t look at me, I can’t trust you. Are you aware of the eye contact you make? You might be sending the wrong message.
Work the person’s name into your conversation. Once you are introduced, repeat the person’s name a few times in your mind so that you won’t forget it. Then use the name early in your conversation.
Master the handshake. Grasp the whole hand and give it a brief, but solid squeeze. A firm handshake can say as much about your confidence as your appearance.
So you think you’re introverted. I bet I’ve got you beat. When I was in high school, a friend of mine and I went to a church party / dance. On the way to the men’s room, I ran into a girl I knew from one of my classes. She had a friend with her I’d never met and I had with me a friend she’d never met. She introduced her friend, and I nervously placed my hand out in the universal "shake-my-hand gesture", but apparently her friend didn’t notice.
I, however, was too nervous to do anything, so I left my hand in that awkward pose for the next several minutes as she talked. Of course, I didn’t introduce my friend because I was so petrified of being in the presence of another human that I forgot the customs of human interaction. I didn’t really have much to say, or at least I couldn’t get my mouth to do anything. Finally after what seemed like hours, the moment had passed and we made it to the men’s room. My face was bright red; my palms were sweating, and I thought I was having a stroke!
The point is that although I’ve overcome much of this shyness, I’m still very introverted by nature. We at Universal Accounting® work with accountants on a daily basis. We know that often the personality type who loves accounting isn’t necessarily the personality type who loves going out and meeting with people and trying to recruit new clients. However, I dare say that most of you reading this are not as shy as I was. I’m not going to attempt to change you from introverts to extroverts. First of all, the world needs people like us. We’re the thinkers and the analyzers. Besides, who would do the books for all the extroverts?
What I will do, however, is give you a “bypass” route for your shyness. You can be a talented bookkeeper, but if you don’t have any clients, what good does it do you. Here’s my motto, “if you don’t like doing something, pay someone else to do it.” How do you think I get my son to take out the trash! Just as your client, the plumber, knows everything about plumbing, but precious little about bookkeeping (that’s why he needs you), you know everything about bookkeeping, but not as much about getting clients or selling. Although one of our major focuses for students is to teach you low-key, effective ways to get clients, why not pay an expert instead?
That’s sounds great, but how do you do it? Here’s the basic idea in three steps.
Find someone who knows how to sell or is naturally in a position to meet a lot of people
Get him/her to tell people about your business
This is simply networking. Some enjoy frequent intereaction with others, but if you’re not one of them, you’re not alone. Many very successful businesspeople do not excel at marketing. So how do their businesses succeed? They surround themselves with very bright people that fill in what gaps they have personally. You don’t have to know it all; you just have to know how to find those that do.
Let’s take a look at each of the three steps in more detail:
Find someone who knows how to sell or is naturally in a position to meet a lot of people:
So just who are these people? Of course there are sales people who sell for a living. What about someone like your mailman who sees people all the time, or maybe someone you know who drives a delivery truck, your barber or hair stylist? Think of those you know and ask yourself, “Who do I know that just knows lots of people?”
You can also just run an inexpensive classified ad in the paper to find someone like this. That may not be necessary because, if you’re like most people, and most people are, you know someone who is a great salesperson and would love to help you out. They will charge a small fee, of course. But if you decided to run a small ad in the classified section, would it be worth the $50 you’d spend on it to even find one client. Once upon on a time, I used to repair computers for a living, and I ran a $35 ad in the paper that simply said:
That’s it. I got more business from that ad than I could handle, so why not run an ad that says something like:
Get Paid to Find Me Clients Your Name, Your Number
I’m by no means an expert at writing newspaper ads, but with a little creativity, you’ll be able to find someone who would be willing to throw you some clients for a small fee.
Step two is easy; “Get him/her to tell people about your business.” Why should someone give you business? Because you’re paying them to do so. That’s as good a reason as any. The real question then becomes, how do you pay them and how much? So let’s look at step three:
Pay Him/Her: A couple of questions should be considered when it comes to paying a marketer.
When do you pay?
How much do you pay?
The question of when is more about how often you pay them. In other words, are you going to pay them a one-time fee, or are you going to pay them a residual for each month that you have the client, or both? Remember, as students of our course will tell you, each client pays you about $400 per month, and it only takes you about 6-8 hours per month to service a client.
That being the case, you can choose to pay your marketing person a percentage each month or you can simply pay them an up-front fee. I personally like the up-front fee because it’s less to keep track of. Where do you get the up-front fee? It comes from your first month’s payment from your new client.
However, your marketer may be more interested in residuals than up-front payment. Maybe a combination of both is suitable; a smaller up-front fee, and then a small residual for the length of time you service the client or maybe for the first X number of months.
Secondly, you must answer the question of how much to pay. Of course, everything in this article is negotiable, and ultimately it’s up to you and your marketer. However, here are some guidelines:
Generally speaking, a commissioned sales person makes between 10% and 20% of the price of the sale, depending on the product and the price. Paying your marketing person 15% of the client’s fee for the first 12 months might be a reasonable offer. This would mean that your marketer would earn $45 per month per client from you. If he brought you 20 clients (which would keep you busy full-time) then he would be making $45 X 20 clients which is $900 per month. That’s a nice extra income for someone who is merely doing what (s)he already loves to do.
Don’t forget the most important part. You’re making the remaining $355 per month per client which is $7100 per month, and you didn’t have to find a single client yourself. What’s great about this is that at this point, you can hire someone, like one of your kids, at $10 per hour to do your data entry, and you’ll be able to take on 20 more clients.
You’ll end up paying a data entry person $1600 per month (4 weeks x 40 hours x $10).
You’re paying out $900 per month ($45 x 20 clients) to your marketer
You’re bringing in $8000 per month ($400 x 20 clients)
Put all of that together and your net income is: $8000 (client income) – $1600 (data entry person) – $900 (marketer) = $5500 per month.
You’re making $5500 per month to basically oversee the organization. Bring in 20 more clients and you’re bringing in another $5500 per month.
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I’m always dabbling in different business ideas, and I’ve used these basic ideas to make quite a bit of money all on a referral basis. I currently have two service-related side businesses that are a fair portion of my livelihood, and every single client, without exception, has come to me from someone else.
These methods are good, sound principles that will allow you to grow your business as large or as quickly as you want. You are only limited by your imagination. And trust me, as an introvert myself, I know that your imagination is one of your strong suits!
Learn To Market Your Business With Low-Pressure Techniques
The fourth module of the Professional Bookkeeper™ program teaches you to find clients with little effort and even less out-of-pocket expense. You will learn to take advantage of your unique marketing advantages that you didn’t even know you had. With little effort on your part, you will quickly learn to find more paying clients than you can handle!
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This article discusses sales strategy for selling the benefits of accounting and booking services for prospective business clients.
To sell successfully, you must know your service and its features thoroughly, but that’s not enough. You must also be able to translate the features in to client benefits.
If you push service features instead of service benefits, you’ll break a basic selling rule: Sell the sizzle, not the steak.
Here’s a case in point: Janet Bell provides bookkeeping services. During a sales call, an office manager expressed her interest in Janet’s services. She also pointed out that Janet’s service was priced 15 percent higher than a competitor’s. “You both provide accounting services,” the office manager said.
“Yes, we do,” Janet responded. “But it’s how we do it that separates our service from theirs. We provide full data-entry services so that you can spend your time working with customers rather than entering information into a computer. That means greater sales for you.”
Before calling on prospects, review the charts below.
Three key features of bookkeeping services.
Cash flow management
Three benefits the features offer.
Reduce tax liabilities
Peace of mind
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For more information on the basis behind these three features, see our article on 3 good reasons to start an accounting and bookkeeping business.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that word of mouth advertising costs less than paid advertising but we often overlook the fact that, by its very nature, word of mouth advertising is more personal than newspaper or radio advertisements. This point makes word of mouth advertising the most consistently effective marketing technique for a bookkeeping and accounting service.
You can’t beat a personal recommendation from a friend, colleague or business contact and everyone enjoys recommending something or someone as they can be perceived as the expert on that particular subject – consider all the restaurant critics, for instance. Your objective is to make these people aware of your bookkeeping and accounting business.
How Do I Get Word-of-Mouth Referrals?
Listed below are just three suggestions which should result in referrals to your freelancing business at no, or little cost to you. Take a few extra minutes and you’ll probably be able to come up with many more.
Ask for them!
E-mail or write to all your friends, acquaintances and contacts to advise them that you are in the financial services business and that you’re anxious to increase your client base. Use personal letterhead, and add a handwritten note to make it more personal. Whatever you send them must be professional looking and well-written. Later, if feasible, you may want to follow up with a personal contact just to make sure they got the letter. Often times your personal contacts will go out of their way to spread the message about your new business.
A testimonial from a satisfied bookkeeping client will go a long way to convincing a potential client that you are trustworthy and professional and they are easy to obtain if you’re doing quality work. When you receive testimonials from clients, make sure that you file them in a portfolio and include them in your presentations to potential clients and in your newsletter.
Keep In Touch
Send greeting cards to your clients and prospective clients Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t appreciate recognition for their achievements or special events like birthdays and anniversaries? You can be the bearer of good tidings with a card. The first step is to purchase inexpensive blank cards or print some basic "thank you" and "congratulations" cards on your own computer. And, whenever you send a card, include a business card to remind them of your business. When can you use greeting cards? Whenever. But, here are a few ideas to get started.
To thank anyone who refers business to you
To thank a prospective client for the opportunity to present a proposal
To congratulate a client on any achievement
To recognize a special event in a client’s personal life.
Additional Marketing Skills
Word-of-mouth networking is an essential marketing tool, but there are so many other low-cost ways to find clients. You just need to know how to find the potential clients all around you. Module 4 of the Professional Bookkeeper™ program teaches you the secrets to quickly find great-paying clients.
Learn How the Marketing Method Taught the Professional Bookkeeper™ Program Gets You Clients Fast!
There’s just two things. Two simple attributes separate successful accounting and bookkeeping services from unprofitable ones. Is it training? No, most unprofitable accounting services have very competent, well-trained people. To succeed, you need to:
Find enough customers
Charge enough for your services
We’ll help with both. The Professional Bookkeeper™ Program teaches you to quickly and cost-effectively find as many clients as you can handle. We’ll also show you how to charge every penny the market will bear through the most profitable billing methods, developed over 25 years of real-world accounting marketing experience.
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Great Skills = Great Income… Sometimes
Remember the Edsel? Named after Henry Ford’s son by the same name, the Ford Edsel is well-known . . . for failure. Was the Edsel a bad car? While it had a few technical problems at first, what prevented it from being a success had absolutely nothing to do with its quality. It was poorly marketed. People just didn’t “get” the car and its “futuristic” styling. During a time when the American motorist wanted a more economical car, Ford released the Edsel. This battleship of a car was over 17 feet long, hardly the fuel miser drivers craved.
In my high school years, I had a friend who spent endless hours with his father restoring an old Edsel, the car Americans “loved to hate”. He raved about its innovations and how far ahead of its time it really was. But I can guarantee that Ford’s stockholders didn’t spent a lot of time raving about it.
Great Products Deserve Great Marketing
As with the Edsel, it isn’t enough for you to have a great product or services. You have to be in touch with your audience and speak to them in terms they relate to and value. For example, try out this line on a potential customer you really don’t want: “I will help you lower your COGS and systematize the reporting of your intangible assets”. Remember, I said you should use this on a potential client you really don’t want, because with a pitch like that, you won’t land them as a client. Why not?
“It’s All Greek to Me”
Simply put, you have to speak the language your clients speak. Successful marketing speaks in terms of benefits, not features. That’s one thing the Professional Bookkeeper™ Program teaches you, how to get into the mind of your client and to speak their language. Small business owners don’t stay up at night dreaming of carefully prepared ledgers and books. They DO stay up thinking of ways to control their expenses and to keep more of what they bring in. The Professional Bookkeeper™ Program will teach you point-by-point how to demonstrate to your clients the value that you bring to them, particularly why the business intelligence you provide will be worth much more to them than the fee you’ll charge.
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Knowing your clients’ emotional triggers is really half the battle in marketing. I’m a professional marketing consultant. When I sit down with a client, the very first thing I ask is, “Who is your audience?” The second is, “What are your clients’ frustrations?” The third is, “How will you overcome those frustrations, and how will your clients know that you have the skills, tools, and knowledge to solve their problems?” We’ll teach you how to identify your clients’ fears and aspirations. You’ll learn how to illustrate to clients how your services will answer their needs and bring them closer to reaching their financial goals.
Click Here to Learn How To Use the Marketing Techniques Taught in the Professional Bookkeeper™ Program to Sell the Benefits of Your Services
The Language of Business
The Professional Bookkeeper™ Program teaches you accounting, the language of business. But more importantly, it teaches you how to use it effectively and in a benefits-driven way that will make your clients happy to pay the $30 to $60 per hour you’ll charge them. Why? Because you’ll show them ways to save money through better control of their expenses. Through your accounting mastery, they’ll discover tax deductions they never knew they were cheating themselves out of. But most of all, you’ll show them how to, once and for all, truly understand their business finances. Armed with the knowledge you provide them each month, you enable small businesses to make informed decisions which improve their bottom lines. Simply put, you’ll make them more profitable.
When is Marketing Easy?
Simply put, it becomes easy to sell your services when your customers see how the benefits you provide them far outweigh the cost. The Professional Bookkeeper™ Program teaches you to sell yourself through very natural, low-pressure techniques. Every small business owner knows a few things about accounting and tax:
It has to be done. The law requires it.
They don’t want to do it themselves.
They don’t want to pay more taxes than they have to.
They want to understand their business finances.
They want to know how to keep more of what they bring in.
These are true for every business, but most critically for small business owners. That’s where you come in. Businesses owners WANT you to convince them that you should take over their accounting for them. The Professional Bookkeeper™ Program will teach you how to make it very easy for them to say, "Yes!"
Click Here to Learn How To Show Prospective Clients Your Services Are Worth Much More to Them than the $30 to $60 Per Hour You’ll Charge Them
Marketing Is Easy!
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How To Sell Clients On Your Accounting and Tax Services In high school, you learned all about history, math, and science. Why didn’t anyone teach something as useful as how to market and sell something? Get a great start on marketing your accounting and tax services.
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