How to talk to your clients about moving into the cloud
For accountants, cloud software is nothing new. But what can you do if your clients are still used to working on desktop platforms or spreadsheets?
After all, not everyone jumps for joy when they hear about the latest tech. And with plenty of business challenges to worry about, switching to new software might not be the first thing on your clients’ priority lists. You know modernising their systems will make their lives easier, giving them better information on their business performance that they can use to make the right decisions during difficult times. But how can you start the conversation with them, and get them excited about moving to the cloud?
Different clients, different approach
First off, it’s a good idea to think about the different clients you have, and where they all stand when it comes to the cloud.
Are some of your clients tech-averse in general, begrudgingly adapting their systems to meet the latest legislation? Are others interested in principle, but simply too busy to start thinking about any changes?
Depending on these factors, your approach to communicating with your clients might be different – so it might help to group them into segments, and target your communications differently depending on where they each fall.
For those late adopters who are resistant to change, you’ll probably need to invest more time into talking them through the benefits and supporting them through the transition. For example, you might:
- Book a demo for your client to walk them through the software.
- Check your client support function: is the support you offer high-quality, fast and easy to access? Does your client know how to get help if they need it?
- Show your client the main ways to use the software, focusing on what they’ll need to use from day one. Try not to bombard them with details of new features that they won’t need right away.
- Contrast it with desktop software, giving examples of how desktop can or has failed them. How much time and money has been lost, and headaches caused by older platforms?
Show them why it matters to them
One of the main mistakes you can make when talking about the benefits of a tech product is just to list all of its features. Instead, keep one question in mind when you’re explaining software to someone: why should they care?
You want your clients to see the real, practical ways cloud accounting can make their lives easier. These might overlap with the benefits for your practice, but they will be different. For instance:
- Real-time updates: see how their business is doing at any point in time, giving them a snapshot of their performance or deeper insights on the data. Most business owners are preoccupied with their day-to-day work and simply don’t have the time to sit down and analyse their finances – and when they do, it’s not easy to turn that information into any meaningful insight on the future. Cloud software can help with this.
- Access from anywhere: view this information from any device and location, making it easy to check in on the go. Most cloud accounting software is also client-facing and user-friendly. Features like easy and secure login through SSO, or mobile apps, mean these tools are far more accessible than traditional platforms.
- Time-saving automations: save time that would have been spent on manual data entry, and use that time elsewhere in their business.
- Easy collaboration: no need to send files back and forth with you as their accountant – instead, they can share and view information through the same platform.
- Secure servers: data is protected with multiple layers of security, and automatic backups mean they’re less likely to lose information compared to storing it on a physical device.
Talk these points through with your clients, or even better, show them the benefits through a demo. Seeing a live example of the software is often more convincing, and more interesting than hearing someone reel off the benefits that might not feel completely tangible.
At the same time, be sure to manage your clients’ expectations when it comes to the software. We’re used to hearing about the magical transformation promised by the cloud – and the software ads often make it look like you’ll download an app, tap a button and have your accounts completed in one go.
In reality, your clients are probably going to be dealing with some disruption while they get used to the new software, so be honest about that: but reassure them that once they’re over that initial hurdle, they will see some marked improvements.
Set a timeline
Once you’ve laid the groundwork by speaking with your clients about the benefits of the cloud, it’s time to set out a plan of action to transition them to the new system.
At this point, be firm about your plans. If you’ve decided as a practice to move all of your clients away from desktop platforms, you probably don’t want to be making exceptions for one or two clients who aren’t convinced.
And while it’s a good thing to be on hand and available to help clients who are struggling with the new platform, you don’t necessarily have to take on the role of tech support – don’t be afraid to point clients in the direction of the support team for the software you’re using, or give them resources to answer their questions.
What’s your experience of moving to the cloud? How did you communicate the change to clients, and what were your main challenges? We’re interested to hear about it – talk to us at [email protected]
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Aurelia are the automation and software experts for accountants and finance leads. We want to to automate accounting for good and free minds of financial busywork . We reinvent the way businesses run their finances, arming them with clarity and reassurance and making accounting as powerful and effortless as it should be that it almost feels...