How to convince your clients to move to cloud accounting
If you’ve already been sold on cloud accounting but want some tips on how to make your clients jump on board with you, then follow our easy 5 step guide!
Step 1. Inform yourself
Make sure you have all the answers to any questions your clients might ask about the cloud accounting software that you’ve chosen - whether that’s Sage, Xero, Quickbooks, or any number of other options. You’ll want to understand how hosted cloud accounting solutions work and be able to explain this in a simple way to your clients. One thing that could worry your clients about cloud solutions is security. Educate yourself on how cloud accounting protects data and be aware of your cloud vendor’s security policies so you can alleviate any concerns your clients may have about the security of their data.
Step 2. Find your candidates
Every time a new generation of technology emerges - be it electricity, mobile phones or cloud accounting - people take time to adjust and some people are more resistant than others.
Researchers have created a technology acceptance model to describe categories of users and how readily they adapt to technological change. We can conceptualise this as three broad groups of technology users:
These people love new technology and will be the first ones at the Apple Store buying the latest model of iPhone. They won’t need to be persuaded of the necessity of learning to use new technology and getting them to move on to cloud accounting software won’t be a problem - in fact, they’ll be raring to go!
Early majority and Late majority
The early majority take a lead from early adopters and help build critical mass around adoption of a new technology. The late majority are more sceptical and slower to follow. But both of these groups will be open to the idea of cloud accounting and will accept the obvious advantages.
This group are technology resistant and are not fans of change. Although they may be willing to learn, it can take them a long time to adapt to new technology and they’ll often try to give up at the first sign of a glitch or difficulty. You’ll have to work the hardest on these clients.
Not every client you have will be a good fit for the cloud. Look at your list of current clients to evaluate where the value proposition might be high enough for cloud accounting. This might include clients with multiple locations that need to access their file from any one of their locations at any time. It also might include clients that would love to do their accounting from their tablet. Clients with no existing server infrastructure could be good candidates, too, as well as startups.
Step 3. Take baby steps
For the more reluctant late adopters, you may need to move more slowly. For those who are committed to their desktop software and data file, still insisting that you drive to their location, small and gradual change might be the way forward. Start off by introducing them to remote access solutions, such as LogMeIn, Join.Me or GoToAssist. Once they’ve seen how much easier it is for you to help them remotely, they may be more willing to try cloud based accounting. Alternatively, late adopters may need you to walk them through every step of the process - with more in person meetings or video calls to explain how the transition will work.
Step 4. Arrange an explanatory meeting
Once you’ve decided which of your clients are the best candidates to convert to cloud accounting, set up a meeting with them. In the meeting you’ll want to discuss the options and to go over the pros and cons of cloud accounting solutions. Rather than acting as a salesperson for cloud solutions, be more of a trusted advisor - discuss whether it will have real benefit for them and their business.
Prepare a list of the benefits and go through them with your client. Here are a few for inspiration:
Access anytime, anyplace
Always backed up externally
No need to install software system upgrades
No payments for infrastructure needed
Licensing and hosting fees are paid monthly, so there’s no large initial investment
No need to send files between client and bookkeeper and accountant
Preparation for Making Tax Digital (MTD)
It’s useful to talk about other software specific features your clients will get from any cloud accounting add-ons you might have experience with - such as Fluidly.
Ask your client to put a price value on each of the benefits you discuss. Present the cost options and see if the value proposition is there. Do they feel that they would be getting value for money? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Let the client decide whether the move is right for them and give them an idea of the steps involved. Be sure to include everything they’ll need to do and the time frame for implementation.
One of the most effective ways of making a client see the potential benefits to them is by giving them real word examples. Use a case study showing them how a business can save time and money using cloud solutions and give them examples of the added value that you will be able to offer them through cloud accounting. Explain what other services you would be able to give because of the cloud (e.g. 'I did X for you this month, that's because I had more time and the right information because of X cloud accounting app').
Step 5. Challenges
Finally, there will be challenges and hiccups in your clients’ cloud software journey. This is inevitable, as with any accounting solutions, and you can prepare for it. There may be compliance problems during set up, the idea of cloud accounting might provoke data security concerns or they may simply just not like the idea of moving to new software. Reiterate to them the benefits they will get once they’ve made the move and the advantages over their current system - as well as the extra work you will be able to do for them once able to access their data remotely.