Most accountants hate to sell. It can be uncomfortable, difficult, and against your nature. But selling is a step that must come—to some degree—before giving a client the help they need. And it ensures you get paid appropriately for the value you provide.
In this three-part series, I'll explore the seven things that must happen to make an accounting and bookkeeping sales consultation successful.
This includes the exact sales blueprint that we are using at Envolta Cloud Accounting.
By the end of it, you’ll know:
Why sales consultations are the most personal way to make a sale next to meeting in person
The flow that lets any bookkeeper or accountant deliver a successful consultation if they follow it
How to turn a “no” into a loyal customer who sends you consistent referrals
What “the money objection” actually means
Ways you may sabotage the sale (and how to avoid them)
There are several common misunderstandings that make successful sales consultations hard. Do you:
Adjust your price the moment you think your client might not buy?
Make sales, but they’re to clients who take a lot of emotional energy?
Worry and change your offer if a client hints that money isn’t where they want it right now?
Make promises you aren’t clear your team can deliver, and you know in your mind you’re going outside of scope creep and your team is going to be annoyed.
If so, you’re not alone. But when I look at that list, I see a bunch of common misunderstandings that make converting during a consultation hard.
Here are my three promises:
If you’re not already doing consultations, you’ll see why they are a must.
If you’re already doing strategy sessions, that’s great. If you’re not closing at least one in three and feeling solid with your prices, then you’re going to see how to double, triple, or even quadruple your income as a result of implementing these techniques.
If you’re breezing through your consultations, consistently making conversions, loving the income, and enjoying a booked calendar, congratulations! This article will show you how to leverage your time by showing someone else how to successfully do your consultations for you.
During a sales call there are seven phases that you will move through. If you move through these steps correctly, then you’ll hear your prospective client ask, “How can I work with you?”
It is not a script.
It is not a way to trick people.
It is about having an authentic conversation with someone and keeping a 'how can I help you?' mindset.
This blueprint should be customized to your business, your customers, and your strengths. There are already things that you are doing right—this is about tweaking some of the other things to make them better.
You want a systemized blueprint because:
It will help you to understand what works and what doesn't, allowing you to keep improving. If things go badly, you have to have a reference point and a system you can check so that it’s simple to tweak and improve your process.
Selling isn’t personality-specific if it’s systemized. When you have your call process systemized, other people can do your strategy sessions for you.
This blueprint ensures you can demonstrate the amazing value you can give to prospects. They will respect and value you more.
Do your homework. You need to gain an understanding of where your prospect is, and how well they know you before you ever get on the phone with them.
Did they meet you at a networking event?
Did they happen to find you on your website?
These are two different places and you have to know that. Wherever they are and wherever they came from, you want to prepare them. You want them to be in a place where you’ve already done some of the front end work so that they’re already educated on what you do.
You can use a questionnaire to understand more about them and prepare them—show them things they may not have thought of, but they need to understand are related to their problem.
They will become more aware of what is possible through working with you, when you prompt them with questions such as:
How long has the problem been going on?
What have they already done to try to solve it?
What other areas is this affecting?
If the problem is resolved, what other things will be affected?
If you are currently doing a lot of “get to know you” calls and coffee dates, but have a hard time moving from small talk to real conversation, then ask yourself if you are clear on what the value of the consultation is.
If you’re looking at it as just an opportunity to sell something, then it will be tough to invite people from the coffee date to the consultation unless they specifically state that they have the problem you will solve.
But if they know what they will get just by being on the phone with you, then it is going to be an illuminating process for them.
So look at your motives and ask, 'am I holding this consultation as something of value for the other person?'
You want people to know that they are not coming into a free advice session, because that’s a very different thing. Otherwise, people are just there for the free stuff, and they’re not in the position to make a decision.
If you are on a coffee date with someone who has an interest in what you do, suggest, 'why don't we get together for a consultation where I’ll identify 1-2 areas in your bookkeeping that have the most untapped potential for you? Then we can look to see how I can help you.'
From here they will be excited! They know the phone call they are about to get on is dedicated to them and discovering where they can grow. Your intentions are upfront, clear and open.
You are not offering free anything. People do strange things when free is in their mind. Because they don't put any value on it they often won't show up, or they might be more reserved.
Scheduling a call with the suggested way sounds more like a partnership aimed at helping them solve a problem and they’ll get value from you either way.
As soon as your consultation call begins, make your intention clear.
'My intention today is to identify 1-2 things that will make the biggest difference in your bookkeeping year and then we’ll identify your next best move and if and how I can help you. How does that sound?'
When you are clear and up-front, their intention pops right out of their mouth, and then you can see where you stand and where they stand.
Understand why they’re on the call with you by actually asking them. Try asking, 'what made you decide to speak with me today?'
This is where you tap into their needs and connect with them.
Do they have the problem you solve?
If not, you should hang up. Don’t waste their time. Communicate, 'I don’t do this or that, and I can’t help you with your problem. I apologize that I didn’t communicate clearly.'
Are they a fit for your business?
If even only 25% of their personality would somehow drain you, solving their problem will likely take all of your energy.
If they can’t get to their issue within 15 minutes of the call, you can’t help them. There’s no sense in pitching them in this case.
Simply say, 'it’s nice to meet you. Thanks for your time. I can’t help you right now. Thanks so much.'
Then just hang up—there’s no harm done in hanging up and getting off the phone.
We hope you enjoyed the first 3 phases of our call blueprint. Stay tuned for phases 4-7 in the coming weeks.
Chief Marketing Officer, Envolta Cloud Accounting
Ashley has consulted for Fortune 500 companies and leads a team at Envolta—one of North America’s fastest-growing accounting firms.
Envolta leverages technology, software, advisory accounting and customer service that keeps their clients' businesses moving forward. They were on Ottawa’s fastest-growing company list in 2018 and 2019, and a Canada top 500 growth company in 2019.