Selling advisory services to their clients is one way in which accountants can increase their average fee, and help their clients more. But many small firms are struggling with how to sell advisory services. Here are 5 steps to start unlocking the potential that advisory services can offer your practice.
Start with the “low hanging fruit”
Existing clients are the easiest people to sell advisory services to. You already have a track record; they trust you and have experienced the excellent client service you provide. If you are gulping at any of those statements, then start to think about those before seriously expecting to get higher fees from them.
However, many firms are still finding it difficult to sell advisory services to existing clients. Here are the top 4.
1 - Selling the wrong thing
So, what are ‘advisory services’? Yes, it’s a real question; what are you going to offer to your clients?
Defining an advisory services package is one thing, to sell advisory services is another. What do your clients need?
The easiest way to sell advisory services to your clients is to help them buy something they really, really need. That means research and client knowledge. You need to understand their world, as well as their challenges and pain points. If not, it’s hard to provide an irresistible package of advisory services your clients want to buy.
Key: - Don’t just offer the same as your competition. Really listen to your clients and research what they want to buy.
2 - Your biggest competitor for advisory services
A client does not have to buy advisory services. That’s very different to the compliance work you already do for them. This means that the biggest competitor you face is inertia rather than a firm down the road.
Using a management accounts package as an example of something that could add amazing value to your client. Management accounts will help them be in control of their day-to-day finances, and maybe the first time you really are ‘proactive’. However, if you try and sell management accounts to your clients without explicitly demonstrating the value to them it’s going to be a tough sell. Why will they want to spend money on yet another report, and let’s be honest they can probably make it for themselves?
However, if they are buying a system to control their cash flow and take informed decisions on business strategy, the package (still management accounts) looks different. Your clients can now see the value and the help you provide them to go with the report.
Key:- Focus on the value your clients need.
3 - Selling advisory services needs some sales skills!
Selling something that somebody wants to buy isn’t really selling, it’s order fulfillment. Most accountants are used to selling things that, by and large, clients need and know they need.
Selling something to somebody that they don’t know they need is different. Now you have to convince them they really need it, and that you are the right person to provide it.
Maybe you were not born to be great at sales (I don’t know many accountants that were) however, with a tried and tested sales process and checklist for your meeting with your client you can radically improve your ability to sell advisory to your clients.
Key:- Clearly focus on a sales process and checklist
4 - Selling to the wrong clients
It is quite probable that most of your clients do not need more than compliance work. Maybe their business isn’t big enough to warrant anything more than basic compliance and some simple tax planning advice.
Start with a client portfolio analysis, so you know which of your clients are correctly positioned to need your different advisory services. For example, an established business where the owner is 55 or over is probably a potential candidate for retirement coaching or exit advice. Whereas these services are unlikely to be needed by a 30-35 business owner with a turnover of under £500k.
Key:-Focus on the right clients.
Successfully selling advisory services to clients means:
- Ensuring you know what they need
- You focus on their needs so they see the value in your services.
- You use a sales process/checklist to help them see
- You focus on the right clients
What will help you sell advisory services?
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