Why selling is the most important skill for accountants: Nuisance clients

Selling
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James Ashford
GoProposal
Columnist
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In part one I outlined why selling is the most important skill for an accountant to learn. I explained that to sell is to truly serve and that in fact, selling is your ethical obligation. Unless you and your entire team have the ability to sell, then you are unable to transfer value to your clients.

And it’s in this value exchange where everybody wins.

Despite what you may have been told, selling is NOT trying to get your clients to buy as much from you in the short term.

Correct, consultative selling is about maximising the lifetime value of your clients by standing shoulder to shoulder with them and…

  • Understanding their goals
  • Identifying the obstacles they face
  • Recognising their current circumstances
  • Acknowledging the speed they want to move at
  • Agreeing the services they need right now
  • Outlining the services they will need in the future

If you don’t sell your clients the services they need to overcome their obstacles and reach their goals, for the size they are and for the speed they want to move at, then you’re not being fair to them.

Bothersome clients

Answer me this: Do you have nuisance clients?

Have you ever considered that they’re only a pain because you’ve not sold them enough services to the level they need and therefore failed to give them enough value?

Have you ever thought that you turned them into a pain?

(Let me just throw a caveat in here; some clients are genuine irritants, always will be. And those clients probably need to go. But it’s not as many as you’d think.)

So if you’re ready for your ‘ah ha’ moment in all of this, let me tell you a story about a proper pain - me.

I was a nuisance client for my previous accountant. He was always chasing me to get information to him and I only paid him £150 a month.

He then tried to upsell me into a £250 a month service that including a handful of bookkeeping, but I couldn’t see the value in what he offered me, so I left.

Now I’ve never spoken to him since, but I’m sure he tells himself and his staff that I wasn’t their ideal client, I couldn’t afford to pay for their services and I was a pain anyway.

The reality is, I left his firm and moved to My Accountancy Place (of which I’m now a Director) and started spending £550 a month with them, for services where I could see the value and which prevented me from being a pain.

I now have my second business with them as well and am spending over £1000 a month.

They don’t think I’m a pain.

Under their care, I do not have to waste time getting my accounts in order, I have been able to make better decisions about the future and my businesses are flying.

All because they listened to me; they identified what I needed for where I was. And they made the sale.

They created a win-win, where they benefit from the income I’m generating them and I benefited because of the level of service I’m now receiving.

I now have the full finance function in place in my business.

That’s too much

Very often, when clients tell you they can’t afford something or something is “too much”, what they’re actually saying is “It’s too much that”. They can’t see the value in it for what they’re paying for what you’re offering.

It’s like being sold a hotel room for yourself and your significant other for £200 a night. You might say, “That’s too much.” But all you mean is that “It’s too much for a room for the night."

It doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t be prepared to pay £400 for the night if you were greeted at the hotel with a horse drawn carriage, both treated to a deluxe massage and then to be seated at the chef’s table for a seven course meal.

But the only way they’d be able to sell you this deluxe package and give you a night to remember is if they took the time to discover that it was in fact your wedding anniversary, to explain all the ways they could create an incredible experience for you and then to convince you to buy the package.

It’s in the ability to sell, where they’d be able to maximise the value being exchanged between you.

  • How many of your clients are missing out on your deluxe package?
  • How many of your clients are pains because you’ve not served them to the level you could?
  • How many clients have you lost, that have gone on to spend much more with another accountant?
  • And more importantly, what are you going to do about it?

Next time

So let me give you some very clear, practical and logical steps that will help you to start solving this problem, in a way that you and your entire team will feel completely comfortable with.

And I’m not talking about theory or something that worked 20 years ago. I want to outline what we do in our firm today and also what I’ve helped countless other accountants to achieve in a very short space of time.

So look out for Part three of Why selling is the most important skill for accountants to master because it’s time to take action.

About James Ashford

James Ashford

James Ashford is author of "Selling to Serve", founder of GoProposal & The 7 Systems and Director at My Accountancy Place.

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