Pricing on your accountancy website or not: Here is the research backed answer
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 to not put your 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 which truly treated online networking (AKA social media) as a serious networker’s tool in its own right. Up until this point, e-networking (as it was often called) only merited, at best, a chapter in a book on networking. Fast forward to now it seems inconceivable that a book on networking wouldn’t even mentioned how to use the online environment.
We are in a time of unprecedented change. With the rise of social media and online networking platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter etc buyers behaviours have 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.
As a result, this has 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 and changed their advice and thinking. They are still openly telling you about the big mistake you will be making by putting your fees on your website.
How has buyer behaviour actually changed?
Firstly, what hasn’t changed? The journey that a buyer goes – as identified by Neil Rackham, one of the founders of SPIN selling, back in the 70s – hasn’t changed. There are still defined stages that any prospect will go through in order to become a loyal client.
These stages are:
- Everything is fine in my world. Admittedly in today’s fast-paced world unless your sell a particularly distressed service such as insolvency, people and in particular business owners, are rarely in this space.
- I know I have some problems. Most business owners you meet will be in this space. This may be a minor niggle or a full blown crisis. At this point in the buying journey, your prospect will be actively researching their problem and trying to understand whether they can safely ignore it, or whether they need to do something about it.
- I have decided what to do about my problems. At this stage, your business owner is now motivated to do something about their problems. They have identified their ideal outcome. At this stage, they start asking very rational questions. Such as ‘how much will it cost?’, ‘What needs to happen?”, ‘how long will it take?’, ‘what’s involved?’. At this stage, the business owner may have some ideas about what the solution is, but may not. But it is at this stage your buyer is starting to want to know the likely fees you will charge them.
- Finding people to help solve my problem. The business owner – if they need to – will now start to reach out and contact the accountants they believe can help them. They want to know at this stage whether the accountant is credible and is a right fit for what they want to do.
- Taking the decision to buy. The business decides on which accountancy firm owner to engage.
Before social media and the internet radically changed how we seek and find accountants, prospects would identify themselves at the “I have decided what to do about my problems” stage. If you look at the Google Zero Moment of Truth Research and subsequent research studies, they all point to the fact that buyers are now contacting potential suppliers when they are 80% of the way through their buying process. I.e. this means that instead of coming to you, the accountant, earlier in their buying process they are coming to you at the “finding people to help solve my problem”. This has big implications for whether you decide to put your fees on your website or not.
So, what does this really mean for you, the accountant?
This means that any prospects before they contact you will have done most of their research on what they want or need. As a result your website and social media presence needs to help them with this research. In doing so, building up their trust in you and your firm. This means so much more than publishing a list of services that your firm offers. This means having a useful and regularly updated blog which answers most if not all of the questions your prospect is likely to have before they decide to use your firm’s services.
Remember, your prospects want to have answered all the questions they have in the “I have decided what to do about my problems” stage of their buying journey. The firms which have been honest and transparent with these questions will be the firms which potential prospects trust the most. It’s these firms, regardless of their location in the UK, which will get the phone call or email requesting a meeting to talk further.
One of the big questions they will be seeking to answer is how much is this going to cost. They will only get this from an existing client referral or a referral from someone who knows your fees, or if you put your prices on your website. If your website doesn’t at least give them an indication of how much your firm will cost then they will go elsewhere. After all, consider the last time you needed to make a big complex purchase. Did you have the patience to keep digging to find the prices of a supplier? Or did you just move onto the next possible supplier? 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 which DO get better results when they don’t put their fees on the websites are the ones which 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.
I would also suggest that the firms which 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 Kinder Pocock and Cornish Accounting openly display their fees on their website. They both 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.
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.