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5 mistakes accountants make in sales meetings

10th Jul 2024
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Are you running an accountancy practice? Or is it running you?

AVN helps you to take back control of your practice.

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Why are accountants so bad at selling? After all, without sales, you don’t have a sustainable practice. Yet the traditional image of a salesperson lives on – someone pushy, manipulative and willing to do anything to close a deal. And that leads to a distaste for selling that could be hampering the success of your practice.  

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This attitude means that accountants tend to avoid learning about sales techniques that could really help them. In fact, you might even feel the phrase ‘sales techniques’ sounds a bit dodgy itself. 

But if you’ve never been taught how to sell, chances are you’re making mistakes that reduce the likelihood of winning that ideal prospect as a client.

Here are 5 common mistakes accountants make in sales meetings – do you recognise any of them?

(And by the way, if you want more help on how to sell more, to more of your ideal clients, you'll find loads of tips and advice in The Accountants KnowHow Club - find out more here)

1. Talking instead of listening

When you first meet a prospect, do you tell them all about your firm, your services, your experience, maybe even your prices? And then just hope they’ll say ‘yes’?

Or do you ask questions about their business, their challenges, their goals (both personal and professional) and really listen to the answers?

The focus should always be on your prospect and what they need in order to achieve their goals. It’s a waste of everyone’s time to talk about every single service you offer when you haven’t found out which ones are relevant. Instead, learn as much about them as you can before you discuss your services, and tailor what you say to fit the prospect’s needs.   

2. Assuming the prospect knows what they need

If a prospect tells you they need a tax return and accounts, do you take that at face value? Many business owners aren’t really aware of all the ways an accountant can help their business, and will only ask about the services they know they have to have. 

As in point 1 above, the key is to ask open-ended questions that uncover what’s going on in their business so you can identify what’s really important. It helps to prepare your questions ahead of the meeting and research the business as much as possible. 

3. Failing to communicate the value

Accountancy terms and jargon may be second nature to you, but they won’t mean a thing to your prospect. So don’t just list your services and expect them to understand what they mean; emphasise the results they can expect. For example, instead of ‘monthly bookkeeping,’ explain how this gives them ‘real-time financial insights for confident decision-making.’ This shifts the conversation from tasks to valuable business impacts. 

And of course, you must make sure that through your questions, you get an understanding of their priorities. It could be saving time, reducing stress, making more profits, growing their team. Frame your services in the context that makes the most difference to them. 

4. Trying to be someone you aren’t

Despite all the tech and AI we have at our fingertips, genuine human-to-human relationships are the most powerful factors in selling. People buy from people they like and trust. If you aren’t genuine, your prospect will pick up on that, whether consciously or subconsciously. 

So don’t pretend to be an extrovert, outgoing salesperson (or what you think a salesperson is) if that isn’t you. Being yourself takes much less effort and is much more comfortable. And it’s much more likely to lead to a sale.

5. Trying to sell 

It sounds wrong, doesn’t it? This is a sales meeting after all. But if you feel like you’re being too ‘salesy’ in a meeting, you can be sure your prospect is feeling that way too. And that’s a sure-fire way to put them off.

As the other points above have shown, the key is to explore their issues in depth and show them a way to solve their problems. Then you won’t have to do any selling; they will already want to buy from you.

Selling is just one of the topics that you don’t get taught when you qualify as an accountant. In fact, you’ve probably never had any training in how to run an accountancy practice at all. Yet getting these things right is critical. 

Did you know that there’s an on-demand training programme that teaches you what you’ve been missing? 

Such as…

... Getting really clear on where you want your practice to go 
... Attracting your ideal clients
... Delivering high-value, high-fee services
... Scaling up without working extra hours
... And much more.

It’s a comprehensive system for turning your accountancy practice into a profitable, sustainable, fulfilling place to work. 

Find out more about The Accountants KnowHow Club