The steps to take when a client says no to your services

Arguably, you learn more when you fail.

As an accounting firm owner, you’re likely to learn more about your business, services and offering when a client declines your proposal or takes their business elsewhere, compared to when clients sign up on the spot.

One of the challenges is thinking critically about why they have said no, how you can improve, and what you can do to win them back (if that’s what you want to do).

When a client says no, you need to get to the heart of the matter. Here are the questions you need to ask yourself to get there.

Did you sell certainty?

Before taking the steps to critically evaluate the situation, you need to understand why a client or prospect has declined your offer.

They may have given you one of many common excuses, such as:

  • “I can’t afford it.”/ “It’s too expensive.”

  • “I don’t see the value of that.”

  • “I’ll stick with my current firm a bit longer.”

  • “We can do this ourselves.”

Ultimately, these objections rarely come down to price or time—they come down to trusting the outcome.

Uncertainty creates anxiety, and clients don’t want to sign up for added stress.

They need to be certain of the value you can bring, and what that value will materialize as.

According to James Ashford from GoProposal, people need to understand what they’re expecting.

You’re not selling accounting services, you’re selling certainty.
James Ashford, CEO & Founder, GoProposal

If people can clearly see what you can do for them, their various excuses and objections will disappear. 

Did you articulate your value?

Your clients or prospects can’t truly understand the impact your services will have on their business if you don’t spell it out for them.

Consider explaining your value in a series of real-life scenarios. You can take a case study-type approach, where you explain how you benefited one of your current clients that share similarities to them. Or you can take one of their current functions or pain points, and show them how you can solve it with your services.

For example, if your prospect’s major pain point is a lack of time, tell them the estimated time you can give back to them if you take on their payroll.

If they’re confident in what to expect from you, they will recognize your value.

Did you set expectations?

It’s important to establish ground rules from the beginning. By setting expectations, you can make sure you and your client or prospect are on the same page, giving them the whole picture of what you’re offering.

Setting expectations helps them to understand:

  • Their responsibilities and the role they play

  • The value you can bring

  • The tasks you don’t perform

  • Timelines

  • Project scope

  • Pricing

Again, this is about conveying certainty. Help them understand what you expect from them and what they should expect from you, so you’re on a level playing field.

Did you take them through a thorough discovery process?

Have you asked them enough questions to discover what they really need in addition to what they think they need?

Have you given them a holistic response to their pain points and desires?

James and the team at GoProposal have developed the GLOSS Method to manage this. It’s designed to switch the focus from you and your services, to your clients and their needs.

Ultimately, it ensures you’re providing the most value to your clients by taking them through a thorough consultative process.

The GLOSS Method covers:

Goals—What are they striving for?

Location—Where are they currently on their journey?

Obstacles—What are the hurdles in their way?

Speed—How fast do they want to go?

Solution—What’s the best solution for them to get to where they need to be?

Use this process to get to the heart of your clients’ needs.

Put yourself in their shoes

Finally, ask yourself: Is this what I would want?

Knowing all the information you know, with all the experience you have and the value you can bring, if you were in their shoes, would you be confident in your proposal?

Remember, clients and prospects will serve you excuses, but it’s your responsibility to make sure you’ve given them everything they need to make their decision.

Most of all, you need to give them certainty—certainty in your value, the outcome, and your expectations. And if you are sure you’ve done all you can, then perhaps they aren’t worth the hassle.

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