Convincing all your clients to move to a standardized app stack might feel impossible—but the right strategies can help you get across this hurdle.
Standardizing your tech stack is one of the best things you can do at your firm. It sets you up to truly scale your practice, because with a standard tech stack you can stop switching between tools, become more efficient and create repeatable processes.
But the biggest hurdle isn’t finding the right tech. Whether it’s accounts payable software, payroll apps, inventory trackers or practice management software, you can likely find the best solutions with some research.
The real challenge comes when it’s time to pitch the switch to your clients and get them to buy into adopting new tech. So below, I’ve outlined some field-tested strategies to help you overcome this hurdle.
People resist change at a neurological level. Science tells us that when we feel uncertain about the future, our brains get primed to amplify negative emotions.
So, when you tell clients that you want to introduce a new app, you put them on alert. Most clients will default to thinking about what can go wrong with the switch and look for reasons why their current process is working just fine (even if it isn’t).
The way to get ahead of this is simple: don’t pitch apps.
Instead, give clients a vision of what their business can look like.
Do they want better insights into their financials? Faster reports? Easier time managing accounts payable (AP)? Talk about the specifics of what you’re trying to achieve first—the actual apps and execution should come much later.
How much money can your clients save with better tech?
A lot of firms make the mistake of superficially comparing different app subscription packages. Don’t do this. The right way to build your financial case is to dig deep into your client’s entire technology stack, their whole process beyond accounting, and understand where there are costs.
For example: how much time are staff spending on redundant administrative work? Who does the business bank with? Does the client get charged for things like incoming payments? Could the business get discounts from vendors by improving its AP process?
You might uncover surprising opportunities. For example, at the business banking platform Relay, the team has heard instances of firms saving the client the equivalent of the firm’s service fee simply by moving the client away from outdated, overpriced systems.
Inefficiency is expensive. That’s true for your clients and it’s true for your firm.
So, if your clients insist on sticking to technology that makes your process inefficient, your pricing should reflect that. In other words, they should pay you more.
The best way to communicate this is to be direct.
Explain to clients that you carefully select your accounting apps to create the best possible client experience while ensuring that your firm stays as efficient as possible. Then, tell them that if you have to change your technology stack to serve their business, they will have to incur additional costs.
Most clients will understand this, and in many cases opt for the cheaper options. For those that push back without agreeing to a higher fee, it may be time to reconsider keeping their business.
The process of adopting new tech can take weeks, if not months. As such, you should expect doubts and objections to surface along the way—especially after the initial enthusiasm wanes.
The best way to address client hesitations is to anticipate them and keep reiterating the vision that you laid out for them in the first step.
The response to most client concerns should be a quick reminder that outlines:
Why you are doing this
What the results will be
How the businesses will be impacted by the new tech
The software companies you choose should be just as interested in getting your clients on board as you are. After all, these are new customers.
So, you should ask your vendor what resources they have for helping clients onboard. If you have a dedicated account manager with the software company, ask them to help you pitch or onboard your client. Most accounting apps that have partner programs also have additional resources for helping you onboard clients. And many account reps will be willing to hop on a call with your client and make the case.
And there you have it. Moving clients to the tech stack of your choice is easier than you think. The trick is being as deliberate and intentional in your communications strategy as you are in the actual selection of your tech.
To learn more about getting client buy-in for your tech stack in practice, Blake Oliver, Accounting Community Advocate at Relay, is co-hosting a webinar with Karbon's Ian Vacin. They'll be chatting to Salma Hatim, CPA, CFO, and CEO of PROKONECT about how she moves clients to her preferred tech stack.
Register here, even if you can't attend live as you'll receive a recording after.
Content Manager, Relay
Matas manages content at Relay — a business banking platform built for accountants and their clients. His background is in FinTech and financial services. Prior to Relay, Matas managed content at a cashless payments provider, Intellitix; marketed payroll tech at Knit People; and led the sales and marketing functions at a cloud accounting firm, OpenDigits.