The Abundant Accountant Podcast

AA 17 | Qualifying Leads

 

Have you ever had a nightmare client? By that, we mean those people who suck the life and energy out of you that you wish you could get rid of. How do we avoid getting these types of clients in the first place? Ross Jeffries shares how you can tell good clients versus bad clients. He outlines the three ways to avoid working with PITA clients, or what we call as “pain in the ass” clients, as well as the three qualities to look out for to qualify your leads. Ross is the author of Subtle Words That Sell and has over 30 years of sales experience and has been featured in leading media outlets including BBC, CNN, and The Huffington Post. His speeches and trainings have motivated tens of thousands to discover their power to design their own results through the power of persuasion and language.

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3 Qualities To Look Out For To Qualify Leads with Ross Jeffries

We have a very special guest. Our special guest has over 30 years of sales experience, has been featured in leading media outlets including BBC, CNN and The Huffington Post. His speeches and trainings have motivated tens of thousands to discover their power to design their own results through the power of persuasion and language. He is also the author of Subtle Words That Sell. If you are an accounting professional who worries about where your next client may come from or even struggling with inconsistent cashflow not during tax season, then head on over to FiveStepsToAbundance.com. You can get my five simple step process that accountants use to go from waiting around for the busy season to closing high-level clients who are happy to pay you fees you deserve and who actually appreciate the work you do for them. Head on over to the website if you would like to learn more on how to collect higher fees with confidence, get paid what you’re worth and earn more money while working less all year-round.

I invite you to take a screenshot of this episode on your phone and tag me, Michelle Weinstein, as well as our amazing guest, Paul Ross Jeffries. Make sure to tag #TheAbundantAccountantPodcast when you post it on your LinkedIn profile. Share with us the takeaway you took from this episode that you can implement so you can avoid those bad clients that you are sick of wasting your time with that are sucking out all of your energy. Let’s welcome Ross to the show.

I am so happy to be here with a special guest, Ross Jeffries. I want to start out saying have you ever had a nightmare client? By that, I mean someone who sucks the life and energy out of you and then you wish you could get rid of them. I understand. I’ve worked with a ton of accountants that have shared with me about their nightmare clients, also known as the PITA clients. One of my students said, “Michelle, how do I avoid getting these types of clients?” They were so sick of having to go to work and it feeling like a job. When things feel like a job, I don’t think that’s why each of you started your firms to begin with. In this episode, Ross and I will be talking about the three qualities to avoid in the clients that you bring into your firm and the three ways to avoid working with the PITA clients, AKA the Pain In The Ass clients. That’s what we’re talking about. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to send them to me to my email at Hello@ThePitchQueen.com. Thank you, Ross, for being here.

It’s always a pleasure to be here with you, Michelle.

I always appreciate you being here. Also for those of you that don’t know, Ross has written a book called Subtle Words That Sell that you can get on Amazon. It’s all the technical ways on how you can learn how to sell without sleaze, how to do it without being pushy. I know each of you is a technical type of person, so you might love reading it since now it’s not tax season. They’ll love reading it. Is it on Audible yet?

No, I don’t think I’m going to put it on Audible. If you’re too lazy to pick it up, then you don’t deserve to get the contents.

Three Ways To Avoid PITA Clients

With that being said, we are going to talk about how do you know good clients versus bad clients? How do you know which clients to avoid? What are the signs of some bad clients that maybe you don’t want to work with that have driven you nuts, especially as you did tax season this year? Maybe you’ve learned some lessons learned that you don’t want to implement going forward. How do we avoid this all completely going forward in the future? We’re going to talk about three different ways. What is the first way to avoid a pain in the ass client in their accounting firm for all of the accountants, CPAS and enrolled agents reading?

First and foremost and always, you have to be willing to step out of your desperation and turn on your discernment. If you’re desperate to get a client, nothing I’m going to tell you is going to work. Set aside desperation, turn on discernment and you have to believe in your own worth and value. You have to come from a frame of screening, not begging. When you’re offering your services, you’re not begging for change. You’re extending an opportunity. You need to first and foremost get in that mindset. That’s key. You have to get the mindset first and foremost.

When you're offering your services, you're not begging for change. You're extending an opportunity. Click To Tweet

When you say you have to know your worth and your value, can you elaborate a little bit on that? I speak a lot on that but I think a lot of people say, “I know I’m worth it and I know I should charge this,” but how does someone know their worth and value?

It’s a perceptual position. It’s something that you choose to come from. You can’t prove it but it’s simply a choice that you make and you refuse to step off of it. Just like you would refuse to step in traffic in front of a truck. You’d want to refuse to step in front of the truck of low self-esteem and of low self-evaluation. It is what I call a perceived position. It is an axiomatic starting position from which there can be no other motion than forward.

Are you going to step in front of a truck or are you not? If you can think about that, if you know your worth, I think that’s a good one actually to start thinking about. What is the second way to avoid a PITA client, a Pain In The Ass client that you don’t want to work with? How do you avoid it on the frontend?

I’m going to get a little technical here and I know you don’t like it when I get technical, but we have to listen for language. We have to listen for certain words. We have to listen to their beliefs about the following things, about their sense of possibility, their sense of capability and then their sense of identity. Let me unpack them one by one. If they say, “I don’t know if that’s possible for me at this time,” then you know you’re dealing with someone who’s stuck in their sense of possibility. Exit stage left. If they say, “Other people could do it but I don’t know if I can.” That’s your sense of capability. Finally, their identity. If they say, “I’m not someone organized enough to do this. I don’t think that this is right for me. I’m not sufficiently motivated.” This is about identity. Changing beliefs about capability and possibility are relatively easy, but changing beliefs about identity is virtually impossible. That’s why therapy often takes years and it still doesn’t work. It’s because you’re trying to change some sense of identity.

I have a follow-up question. If you’re able to not change someone’s identity, what is a qualifying question that you can ask a prospect sitting in front of you to understand if they have an identity issue?

Do you think that you’re the kind of person who could make use of a program to improve the bottom line in your accounting practice? You ask the question, “Do you think you’re the kind of person who could X?” Where X is the outcome that you are promising them.

AA 17 | Qualifying Leads

Qualifying Leads: Changing beliefs about capability and possibility are relatively easy, but changing beliefs about identity is virtually impossible.

 

What is the third way to avoid a PITA client from your perspective?

Right away, before you even very much get out of the gate and explore whether they’re a good fit, they’re bringing up the fee. What is your fee? The fee question comes up before you go even two sentences into the conversation. That’s a sign that that they’re going to be difficult to turn around. In NLP terms, they’re more interested in avoiding a loss than they are in gaining and moving towards gain. It’s something called the metaprogram.

Let’s go into the metaprogram a little bit more because every single CPA, accountant and enrolled agent I’ve ever worked with, they get the price question. The more we can talk about the price question, the better. I think that’s great. Can you share a little bit more in depth when someone asks what’s the price, what should they do?

I would say something like, “Before we discuss what the price is, we have to take a deeper dive and begin to determine, what is the benefit for you? Price standing out in and of itself doesn’t give us any of the pictures that you can see clearly you want to hire me on. Let’s put that aside and have an exploratory discussion about whether we make a good fit because before we talk about price, I first have to see if you’re a fit for me.” That turns the frame around. It’s no longer about, “Prove yourself to me.” When someone asks what’s the price, the deeper meaning frame they’re putting around it is, “Prove to me that you’re worthwhile for me to work with.” We split the frame and we start questioning and asking and saying, “Let me see if you make a good fit for me to want to work with you.” Automatically they’re now put in the subservient position.

Signs Of A Bad Client

These are all great pointers so you don’t ever have to deal with a non-qualified client that’s going to drive you crazy and suck all the energy out of you. What are some other signs of a bad client that you have seen in your history of working with clients over the years that would apply to someone who owns an accounting firm?

This is with any kind of professional and in any kind of business. First, the person is checked out, meaning you’ll say something and they’re not paying attention. They’ll say, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” Multiple times you have to explain it over and over because they’re not present. They’re usually in their past worrying about a mistake or in the future worrying about a catastrophe. Number one, they are not present. Number two, they cannot listen. They’re doing all the talking. Number three, it comes through their attitude that because you’re working with them and they’re paying you, that somehow you’re their slave, that they have a derisive or nasty or impatient attitude. Let me tell you something. I’ve been around now for many beautiful, amazing years. I love this world and this life, but no amount of time is worth it to deal with someone who’s got a bad attitude. I don’t care how much money they throw your way. If they’re going to make you miserable to work with, if they’re not fun to work with, if they don’t appreciate what you’ve got to offer, forget it. Get rid of them. You’ll find ten more people who are happy and will pay you more money.

If anyone tries to bargain with you, hang up the phone or cut off the Skype call or whatever it is. Never bargain. Click To Tweet

Three Qualities To Look Out For To Qualify Your Leads

I want to go a little bit different direction because I’d love to discuss three qualities to look out for to qualify your leads that are good ones. You’ve worked with people for over 30 years. What are three qualities that you found that would be really amazing for an accountant to actually look for and what’s the best way to go about figuring that out when they’re on the phone? They’re not in person with somebody but someone calls and says, “What are your prices?”

First and foremost, they’re inquisitive. They ask sharp and intelligent questions. This is one of the things I look for. They’re inquisitive. Second, if you make a point and they don’t understand it, they’re not going to let you go by without them asking for further clarification. That sounds inquisitive and there’s an overlap, but it’s more a sense that they want to get absolute clarity on what you’re talking about. Number three and this is really a cool thing for number three, they’re not too intent on bargaining. They know. They can see the clear picture. Once they see the value proposition, they’re not going to bargain with you. If anyone tries to bargain with you, hang up the phone or cut off the Skype call or whatever it is. Never bargain.

Three Questions To Add Into The Qualification Form

What are three questions that each person can add into their qualification form or website before they even get to somebody on the phone to avoid these things that they don’t like in a PITA client that they’ve dealt with for years and they’re never going to work with them again? What are some questions to ask to get these answers that you’re talking about? If they were to write out some great questions on a pre-qual form or a website inquiry form, what do you think?

One of the things I would say is, “How committed are you on a scale of one to ten in finding solutions to the challenges you have in your business?” The second thing I would say is, “What other solutions or services have you tried? On a scale of one to ten, how happy have you been with them?” Number three, I would say, “On a scale of one to ten, how strongly do you believe in the possibility that you can achieve your goals with the proper help?” We’re looking into their sense of possibility.

Then we have the identity question.

I wouldn’t ask about identity. I do not want to bring up identity.

AA 17 | Qualifying Leads

Qualifying Leads: What you deserve is equal to or greater to the degree in which you serve others.

 

The other one is to create capability questions and possibility questions.

Also we are sneaking in one about deservingness without actually saying it. We’re sneaking into their sense of deserving. By the way, for those of you who are worried about your own deservingness, write down the word deserving and cross out the DE and what do you get? You get serving. What you deserve is equal to or greater to the degree in which you serve others and you remember that. I came up with that originally.

I think a lot of the accountants reading serve people every single day. They’re in the business of service and never thought that they had to watch out for the bad clients, watch out for which clients to avoid or that sometimes you take on a client and they disrespect you, “I have to watch out for the bad signs of clients and I have to look out for qualities that I don’t want to work with these people.”

This is a very powerful metaphor. If we were in the forest and you were starving and I said, “I’ll point out every single poisonous plant and berry and leaf,” and I really did that, then you could feed yourself well because all you would have to do is avoid all the poison that I pointed out. Think of that metaphor of the forest and you have a guide saying, “Poison.” By exclusion, what’s left is safe.

How can you relate that to their accounting firm with all the people that are contacting them? Some of us, like me, need explanations. Ross has a lot of good metaphors but sometimes they need a deeper explanation. I’m going to have him explain it a little bit more even for you too.

It’s asking the right questions and observing the right things to see what you should avoid. Are they rude? Is their tonality derisive? Are they checked out? Checked out is actually far more common than anything else. They are completely checked out of the conversation and being distracted. I insist when I consult with people, I politely set conditions. I say, “Here are my expectations. Here’s what you can expect from me. In the next 30 minutes, you can expect that I will give you everything I have. I will hold back none of my knowledge. I will answer all of your questions. What I expect from you is that you give me your polite and full attention. Turn off all your other devices, please put your phone on Do Not Disturb. Please turn off your laptop and any other devices so you can give me your full attention.”

You have to set conditions. If they balk at those conditions, then forget it. If they don’t meet even the minor conditions for the contours of the conversation, then they’re not going to be invested in the content of the conversation. Think of the distinction between contour and content. You have to set conditions for the contours of the conversation as well as an agenda for the content of the conversation. Our objections, the bad clients will reveal themselves in both of those stages. They won’t follow the contour instructions and the content instruction is where you’ll find out that they’re checked out, they’re not listening to questions and they’re bringing up the price question right away. They’re derisive in their tone and they don’t ask questions.

One of the other ones that came to mind was that basically you’re explaining what they do on an airplane. Turn off your cell phones, put it on Airplane Mode and focus up.

You can think about it as the airplane protocol. Give them the airplane protocol.

Thank you so much, Ross. How can people find you?

There are two ways. People can grab my book, Subtle Words That Sell or if they want to inquire about me being a speaker, go to SpeakerPaulRoss.com because that’s my speaker identity.

Thank you so much. It was an honor to have you.

I’m honored to be here and address your wonderful clientele.

It was such an honor to have you here spending time with us and having Ross showing his wisdom and genius. If you want more goodness and you’re worrying about where your next client may be coming from or maybe you’re struggling with that inconsistent cashflow not during tax season, you can get my simple five step process accountants use to go from waiting around for the busy season to closing higher level clients over at FiveStepsToAbundance.com. Thank you so much.

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About Paul Ross Jeffries

AA 17 | Qualifying LeadsFor over 25 years, Paul Ross Jeffries has been featured in leading media outlets including BBC, Fox, CNN, NBC, The Huffington Post, Uproxx, Rolling Stone, and more. His speeches and trainings have motivated tens of thousands to discover their power to design their own results through the power of persuasion and language.

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