There's nothing worse than taking on a client that doesn't want to pay your rates. Yes, sometimes this is necessary, especially if you want to build a portfolio, but we all know that that if we consistently accepted low rates, our accountancy firm would become a sinking ship. Nobody wants that, so what can we do about it? Well, surprisingly, if you're having trouble landing clients at the right price, it is usually because of something that you are doing (or not doing). You are the valuable service, you set your own price boundaries, so here is how to win more clients AND get paid what you're worth.
This article is based on content that we shared in our How to handle a client enquiry virtual masterclass. If you want to listen to the full recording, download it here for free.
Get paid what you're worth by avoiding these 8 mistakes
Building an accountancy practice that grows sustainably isn't just about winning more clients, it's about winning good clients. Clients that are a perfect fit for your firm and who will pay you what you're worth. So how do you land better clients at the right price? Start by avoiding these 8 mistakes.
1. Not doing the pre-qualification meeting
While it is tempting to jump in and draw up a proposal or to quote a potential client, start by taking a step back and qualify the prospect first. If you don't, you won't always land the right client at the right price.
Yes, your marketing is all geared towards making the right prospects come to you, but it's not always foolproof. The aim of this pre-qualification meeting is for you to fully vet the opportunity and check that it ticks all of your boxes. Here are a few things you can do to pre-qualify your prospects:
- Get them to fill out a questionnaire - this is an easy way to get an idea of what a prospect is looking for before you meet with them. If you ask the right questions, you should be able to see if they are just looking for low-level compliance work or if they see the value in having an accountant on their team who will help them save tax, increase their profit, and grow their business.
- Charge for this initial meeting - charging for an initial consultation will weed out the low-fee clients straight away and show the clients you want that your time is valuable. People don't value what they get for free, so by charging for your advice, you're setting a good precedent from the get-go.
- Evaluate if there is a real opportunity - a pre-qualification meeting is essential to find out whether the prospect is actually interested in your services. They may just want to leverage information to get a better rate from a current provider or they are hoping that they can use some of the ideas in your proposal without paying for them. This meeting is your chance to ask probing questions and find out their true motivations, so evaluate them.
- Determine the fit - as well as ensuring that you get paid what you're worth, it's also good practice to ensure that the client is a good fit for your business. Do their values align with yours? Are their expectations realistic with what you can deliver?
Remember, gathering information is not only essential to winning more clients, it is crucial to determine whether their business is worth being won. Long story short, ALWAYS pre-qualify your prospects!(If you need help with qualifying your leads, download our free sales process map here)
2. Not making it easy for a prospect to book a call
A common mistake that accountants make is that they don't make it easy for the client to book a call with them. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? But it happens. I see it time and time again where accountants don't include a Calendly or Acuity Scheduling link in their email. The result then ends up being overly complicated, where the client has to make a few emails or phone calls to book a call in with them or they just end up going elsewhere because it's easier. This is such a simple thing to do, yet it has a massive negative impact on your ability to win more clients, so make it easy for your prospects.
We all love the path of least resistance, especially when we are trying to solve a particular issue that we have, so do what you can to make this effortless. If you make it easy for the prospect to just click a link and book in a 15-minute sales call with you, they won't be going anywhere.
3. Doing the new business meeting if the prospect hasn't sent through the information as requested
Possible one of the worst errors you can make is to go ahead with a meeting when the prospect hasn't sent you through the information you requested. Now, you might think that this isn't negatively impacting your ability to win more clients, but it is. Here's how.
If a prospect wants to have a meeting with you, it is because they have an issue or a challenge that they think you can help them solve. This means that you need this information, you need to know exactly what they are struggling with so that you can tailor the meeting to them. What do you think the prospect would rather? A completely generic meeting or one that shows them that you fully understand their problem and have the means to solve it at a reasonable price? There's no question what you would rather.
Going ahead with a meeting without this essential information means that you waste your own time and your prospect's time. The last thing you want is to waste time you could have been spending on converting hot leads only to lose another potential prospect, so do not hold any meetings if you don't have everything you need to convert them.
If you need help with your discovery meeting (including what you need to get from your prospect beforehand), download our free sales process map here.
4. Not understanding the emotional drivers of the business owner right at the start of the fact-find
Another thing you may be doing which is stifling your ability to win more clients and get paid what you're worth is not immediately identifying and understanding your prospect's emotional drivers. Think about it. Consumers buy on emotion and justify with logic, so you need to know what these emotions are to perfect your pitch. 95% of our purchase decision-making takes place subconsciously, so by identifying what the emotional drivers are for your prospect, the better you can empathise with them and position your firm as their solution.
If you don't identify and understand your prospect's emotional drivers at the beginning of your meeting, you will have a hard time forming an emotional connection with your prospect. Not only will this result in what you're saying falling on deaf ears, but it will also result in you losing a potentially great client. To put it simply, spend the first few minutes of your meeting finding out what emotionally motivated the prospect to come to you. Gain a much better understanding of this and their specific challenges in the rest of the fact-finding portion of the meeting before exploring the solutions with them (i.e. you and your firm). If you appeal to the emotions of your prospect, they will see the value in what you do and they will be willing to pay you accordingly for it.
5. Taking too long to get a quote to the client
When you think that it takes weeks and months to win a client, but only a few seconds to lose one, you want to make sure that you're not making any unnecessary mistakes. Completely avoidable mistakes include not sending a quote to the client as soon as possible!
It can be really easy to relax too much once the discovery meeting with a new prospect is over. You've done the hard part, preparing for the meeting and selling your firm to the client, now you can take a little time right? Wrong. You have hopefully wowed the prospect, appealed to their emotions, and dangled the carrot right within their grasp, so why would you stop there? Why would you lose this momentum?
If you take too long to get a quote to the client, you run the risk of losing them altogether. Think about it. It doesn't look good that the first impression they get of you delivering a piece of 'work' is them waiting around twiddling their thumbs. Don't do this. Avoid frustrating the prospect by providing them with a quote swiftly after you have buttered them up.
6. Using the proposal document as options to the client rather than documenting what is agreed
A request for a proposal is the client asking for a 'contract-type' document that outlines exactly what they can expect from you and what you will deliver. This is your proposal based on what was discussed when you met with the client and what they decided on as being the best solution (or what they were leaning towards if they didn't). It is NOT a document where you give the client more options.
At this stage, the client wants to move forward, most likely with you and your firm, so the last thing you want to do is confuse them or set them back in the process. They should have already met with you and discussed all potential solutions, so the proposal document is where you're pitching the final idea. Remember what we said previously about making it as easy as possible for the client? Outline a clear proposal of what the relationship will be moving forward and you'll find that they will be more than willing to jump on board.
7. Setting up a follow up so that the prospect knows when to respond by and the next action if not
Unlike the first 6 points, the next two are things that you need to be doing if you're not doing so already.
If you want to win more clients and get paid what you're worth, you need to streamline your sales process. This means, automating your follow-ups to give your prospects their next course of action. You don't want to leave your prospect hanging, wondering if they'll hear from you or if they need to reach out to you...that's no good. What you need to do is to email them letting them know what they need to do and when they need to respond by if they want to proceed or the next action if not.
Depending on the client or if they didn't respond to your follow up email, you might want to follow up with a phone call too. They may have just been busy. If they rejected your proposal, call them to find out why and if there's anything you can improve to change their answer.
If you need some help with your sales process, download our free sales process map.
8. Signing them up and onboarding or putting them back in the funnel
Last but not least, it's not always the right time for your clients to move forward with you but that doesn't mean that you should lose touch with them! If they come on board, you need to start the onboarding process but if they don't, you should be putting them back into your sales funnel.
Many accountants don't put unconverted leads back in their sales funnel and that is a big mistake. We all know that we need to nurture leads into customers over time, so it should be no different for the ones who don't convert. If anything, it's more important with these contacts because they are warm leads. They are people who are interested and see the value of your service, they just aren't ready yet so you need to be in front of them until they are.
Start landing clients at the right price
So what do you say? Are you ready to stop your firm from becoming a sinking ship? If you want to start landing clients at the right place and get paid what you're worth so that you can grow sustainably, you need to perfect your sales process. You need to be avoiding damaging mistakes and start doing the things that will convert the clients that you actually want. If you do this, and you do it right, you will create a sales process that you can repeat effortlessly.
If you need some help with your sales process, don't forget to download our free sales process map.
Learn how to quickly add an extra £2k of monthly recurring income to your practice (even if you are a reluctant business developer)
Download (for free) the workshop recording of 'How to quickly add £2k of monthly recurring revenue to your practice' and you will discover:
- How to generate more income from your existing clients without putting in place a price rise
- How to get your clients to pay for more services without seen to be profiteering or ambulance chasing
- What marketing your firm can do right now which is going to cause new good clients to flock to your firm