In an industry which has gone through massive change and more massive change to come it has become hard to know what advice to listen to. The accepted best practice of 10 years ago, is, in some cases, not just wrong, but dangerously wrong. In this blog post I am going to explore one such ‘best practice’, not putting your prices on your website, and explain why any small accountancy firm following it today will be making a large mistake. So, read on to understand why you need to put your fees on your accountancy firm website.
Why has the advice about putting prices on your website changed?
10 years ago, social media for business was still very much in its infancy. In fact, my book ‘The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking’, commissioned in 2010, was the first book on networking that truly treated online networking (AKA social media) as a serious networker’s tool in its own right.
We are in a time of change. The rise of social media and online sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter etc, buyer behaviour has fundamentally changed. If you want to read the research take a look at Google’s "Zero moment of truth" research. This research clearly identified how buyer’s behaviours were changing with the adoption of social media. No longer would a business owner know one or two accountants at most. Now everyone knows they are just one click away from finding an accountant.
This has also fundamentally changed how and when a buyer of accountancy services will approach an accountancy firm. And as the point of engagement has changed, so the advice on whether to put your prices on your website has also changed.
Unfortunately, some of the so-called experts on pricing and practice growth for small accountancy firms have NOT moved with the times. They're still telling you about the big mistake you will be making by putting your fees on your website. To find out what should be on your website if you want a healthy pipeline of high-quality leads, download our free 100+ website checklist.
How has buyer behaviour actually changed?
The buyer's journey - identified by Neil Rackham in the 70s - hasn’t changed. Here are the stages that any prospect will go through when they are looking to buy:
- Everything is fine - In today’s world, unless you sell a particularly distressed service such as insolvency, business owners are rarely in this space.
- I know I have some problems. Most business owners you meet will be here. It may be minor or a full-blown crisis. At this point, your prospect will be actively researching. They will be trying to understand whether they can safely ignore it or need to do something about it.
- I have decided what to do about my problems. Your business owner is ready to something about their problems. They start asking questions such as ‘how much will it cost?’, ‘What needs to happen now?”, ‘How long will it take?’, ‘What’s involved?’. At this stage, the business owner may not know their exact solution. They will want to know the likely fees you may charge to help them.
- Finding people to help solve my problem. The business owner will now start to contact the accountants they believe can help them. They are checking whether the accountant is credible and a right fit for them,
- Taking the decision to buy. The business decides on which accountancy firm to engage.
Social media and the internet has radically changed how we seek and find accountants. Prospects used to identify themselves at the “I have decided what to do about my problems” stage. Buyers are now contacting potential suppliers when they are 80% of the way through their buying process. This means that they are coming to you at the "finding people to help solve my problem" stage. This has big implications for whether you put your fees on your website!
What does this change really mean for you, the accountant?
Prospects will have already done most of their research on what they want or need before they contact you. Before you even know about them! You really need your website and social media presence to have helped them with this research. This will build up their trust in you and your firm. You should provide much more than a list of services your firm offers.
A useful and regularly updated blog should answer most if not all of the questions your prospect is likely to be asking when they are doing their research in the “I have decided what to do about my problems” stage of their buying journey. The firms that have answered their questions will be the firms that potential prospects trust the most. It’s these firms, regardless of their location, that will get the phone call or email requesting a meeting to talk further.
One of the bigger questions is of course "how much is this going to cost?" A prospect could only usually get your prices if they are referred by an existing client. Unless you put your prices on your website. If your website doesn’t at least give them an indication of your prices, they will go to the firm that is open about them. Consider the last time you made a big complex purchase. Were you patient enough to keep digging to find the prices of a supplier? Or did you just quickly move onto the next one? Unless you had a really strong recommendation/referral, you just moved onto the next supplier.
But our firm gets better results when we don’t have fees on our website?
If your firm has done a proper study of its leads, conversions and average client fee with and without prices on the website then well done. Most firms, in my experience, haven’t!
Typically the firms that DO get better results when they don’t put their fees on the websites are the ones that fail to communicate the value of their offering on their website. Remember your prospects are not buying on cost, they are buying based on the value they perceive.
The firms that get better results when they don’t put their fees on their website, will typically be dealing with a huge amount of timewasters along the way. Firms such as Cornish Accounting openly display their fees on their website. They have a strong web presence and embrace the principles of building trust with prospects before a first meeting. As a result, they are able to charge considerably more than their local competitors, and rarely get any push back on suggested fees.
To find out what should be on your website if you want a healthy pipeline of high-quality leads, download our free 100+ website checklist.
If you want to increase your average client fee, eliminate unsuitable prospects before they waste any of your firm’s time, increase your lead to conversion rate, then the evidence is truly in favour of showing your prices on your firm’s website.