AA 73 | Accounting To Sales

 

Transitioning between careers is never an easy feat. Today’s guest shares how The Abundant Account Sales Mastery Training helped her in her journey to shift from accounting to sales and boost her business. Diana Louiso is the President and Founder of DL Money Matters, where she works with small and midsize businesses and elderly clients in managing their finances. As a graduate of the 8-week course, she’s here to share just how our training has impacted her career and her business. Listen in to see how you can benefit from the course and get sales tips and business advice from Diana and host Michelle Weinstein.

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Case Study With Diana Louiso

It is an honor to be here with you. We have a special guest. Our special guest is a client who completed the eight-week sales mastery training also the other training that she’s in. She is an accountant out of Cincinnati so out there in the Midwest. Her business is called DL MoneyMatters. In 2021, she is celebrating her ten-year anniversary in business.

She’s had over 30 years of hands-on accounting experience. She focuses on small to midsize businesses and she also works with the elderly with managing their finances and the day-to-day, overseeing their financial matters and personal care. She is motivated for both business and personal “money matters.”

AA 73 | Accounting To Sales

Accounting To Sales: This class really gave me the sales tools I didn’t know existed and has made a big difference and helped not only sales initiatives but also client retention.

Before we welcome our special guest, if you are feeling a little out of control with your whole front end process, once you get a lead or referral and you are winging it or as Diana shares, “Shooting from the hip,” maybe it’s time we should have a phone call. Why wait for the right time from what’s holding you back in your firm and creating the dream? If you have had challenges with asking for higher fees or maybe you’re terrified of raising your rates to your existing clients, maybe you are completely winging it, you don’t have a step-by-step process on how to enroll clients.

If you are someone who wants to talk to me about getting the fees that you want with a proven system so you never have to feel you have too much on your plate and not enough revenue, I invite you to go to TheAbundantCall.com and book your call with me. I will talk to you for a good 45 minutes or 1 hour and we’ll talk about where your accounting business is at now and where you’d like it to be. If I feel like you’re a good fit, we’ll talk about the eight-week training that our special guest, Diana, is going to talk about. Diana has increased her revenue in her firm monthly recurring by $6,500 per month. Before we begin, let’s welcome Diana to the show.

Welcome, Diana, to the show.

Thank you.

Thank you so much for being here with us on the show in our Case Study Series. Our Case Study Series are with clients who I’ve worked with and also amazing accounting professionals like Diana who put in the hard work but also took the leap of faith even though it’s probably scary to make a change because sometimes it’s not easy. Before we dive into our conversation, could you share with everyone where your firm’s at. How long have you been doing this? Were you in corporate before? How long have you been on your own, etc.?

I am celebrating my tenth-year anniversary in 2021 so I have been climbing this mountain for over ten years. I’m a native of Cincinnati. I have over 30 years of hands-on accounting experience, degreed Accountant and all that good stuff. I worked with small to medium-sized service organizations over the years. What happened to my situation was my mother was aging and we all are facing that at some point in time and she needed help with overseeing her finances.

It dawned on me that she’s one of many and that got my wheels turning for about a year. I decided that I’m going to take a leap of faith. Everyone thought I was crazy because that was at the end of 2010 when we had come out of a horrible financial time. That was my original focus. I work with seniors and their families to help their day-to-day finances.

In the process of me building that client base, I was receiving referrals for small business owners who are struggling to manage and grow their business, leaving the accounting piece to the bottom of the stack. They were in the trenches all the time and waiting until tax time to find out, “Are they making money? Losing money? How much do they owe Uncle Sam?”

As soon as I realized, “This is a good thing to have two different client streams and different revenue streams coming in because they’re complementary but they’re different. I can use my skills for both.” That’s how it happened and right now, it’s probably 30% of my business, is what we call daily money management or working with seniors and family members and 70% small business so they’re good. It’s a good niche that I fell into.

It is great. You shared and for everyone reading, any accounting professional knows that this is the last thing on a business owner’s mind typically, when they’re starting their business and they have their business. It’s the bottom of their stack. What do they do when it comes time to pay taxes or even know where their business is at on a monthly basis just like your elderly clientele as far as managing their day-to-day finances? Kudos to you and a happy anniversary to you.

It’s terrifying to be in the unknown and not knowing what is going to happen and how you're going to even fix or solve it. Click To Tweet

I’m sure everyone reading is going, “Why is Diana here as the case study, Michelle?” That is a great question if you’re thinking about that. Diana and I met over a year ago. I don’t know the exact date. Maybe you can share, Diana. When we first spoke, I heard you felt your business was the sinking ship. You’ve been doing this for over ten years the same way but it wasn’t going the way you truly wanted it to go. Can you share with everyone where you were at and what you were struggling with?

We were in the midst of the pandemic so the first half of the year was scary and in the middle of it, I lost someone, an employee, not a person who went out and had another opportunity. There was one struggle happening to try to get someone new started. The second was I had clients that because of the pandemic of what their companies did, weren’t making any money. That meant I wasn’t making any money because there were no services I was providing to them. I thought, “Where am I ever going to find more clients? Everyone is struggling.” I was pretty much at my wit’s end. What am I doing? Why did I ever decide to leave a job?

Sometimes we make more money in a job where we don’t have to deal with the stress or the fluctuation. A lot of people during the pandemic who had a job realize that it wasn’t even that secure. Anytime you can get laid off or fired. Many companies downsized. It can be a struggle, no matter if you have your own business or if you’re in a job. The scary part is the unknown. It’s like, “Who’s going to quit tomorrow?” Your person in your firm. Maybe you have an assistant or an admin. Every day, something can go sideways. That’s the terrifying thing to think about and being in that unknown and not knowing how you’re going to even fix it or solve it.

We had the whole work from home thing because it was so scary. As accountants, we were essential workers so I had to get that setup. I had some staff working from home. I better get the IT set up. That was another stress ball to have to go through that piece too. It was one thing after another in 2020. When I talked to Molly, I was at the bottom of the bottom. I’m like, “I’m going to lose this.” She convinced me to give this a try.

At the end of the day, going through the sales mastery training course, more than anything else, gave me the confidence I needed and that I had when I started my firm. One thing I didn’t have those tools to sell because I’m an accountant. I know how to count beans and I’m good at it. Talking accountant terms to a business owner was almost like Greek.

I was blessed to have who I had and I was able to sell but this class gave me the sales tools I didn’t know existed. This made a big difference and helped me with my sales initiative but also client retention. Clients say, “You cost a lot of money.” How do I define that worth to them? How can I believe my worth in that whole process?

You are no longer shooting from the hip. When we don’t shoot from the hip and you have a sales process you can follow then you’re no longer a sinking ship. It shifted for you. You had the confidence to even share with your clients, your value, your worth and all of those things that we know we have inside but sometimes we’re like, “This is too overwhelming. This is too much, doing the technical stuff and getting my IT set up at home and this whole working remote. This is not easy. It’s not for the birds.” Now that you have a process that you can depend on, I know you shared that with me before and that you trust because you created it with some guidance.

With lots of guidance.

What do you think was the most challenging or difficult thing when you took the leap of faith? You said Molly convinced you. She showed you a new way of thinking.

Others are trying to do a similar thing but your way sounded much better.

Let’s talk about that. We don’t need to name any names but I’m sure a lot of people here reading have been approached by other programs and help coaches. Who knows? What do you think was the biggest difference for why you took the leap of faith with us, me and having me guide you even still to this day? It’s an honor to work with you because you implemented everything and tried even though it could be uncomfortable compared to other things, help and training that were out there.

The big thing was your focus. Your focus was on accountants. Because you have a good feel for who we are as accountants, what our processes are, a lot of times what our fear is and what our shortcomings are. I didn’t feel that way in the other firm that the folks were selling. I didn’t feel that same sense of expertise and commitment.

What’s interesting and one of the things we talk about in the eight weeks of mastery training is who do you want to work with? When you become an expert in a certain area because I only work with accountants, I get asked all the time, “I’m a financial advisor.” I’m like, “Sorry. That is not an accountant. That is different.” Once we pick and for you, you’re working with the elders and you’re working with small business owners.

That’s pretty specific. The more specific you make it, the more of an expert you can become. I can sell monthly bookkeeping, accounting services, a tax plan and pretty much any of this stuff. How you shared earlier was beautiful because you said, “I’m not speaking Greek to my clients anymore.” That’s a huge shift and some of the success that you’ve seen.

AA 73 | Accounting To Sales

Accounting To Sales: Think that your pain points are not a whole lot different than other small businesses. Start talking to other people about their pain points. That made a huge difference and developed trust.

The other thing is the whole pain point thing. I probably got my thoughts from what I was going through and what my pain points were as a small business owner. I’m thinking that my pain points are not a whole lot different than other small businesses. I took it and spoke from my heart as I started talking to other people about their pain points. I could relate and that made a huge difference and it developed trust as I met with prospects.

When we develop trust, speak from the heart and can connect, that’s what we call empathy. One of my favorite books is Chris Voss’ Never Split the Difference and he’s been here on the show. All that he teaches is empathy and when we can empathize with our prospects sitting in front of us. They feel that and that’s not accounting speak. We’re not speaking great. We’re not speaking about debits and credits because people like me, I’m not an accountant. I don’t get any of that language. You might as well be speaking Japanese to me. Japanese is where it pretty much sounds like.

I read Chris’ book too after you made the recommendation and it helped.

I’ve listened to it two times and there are still little pieces. He’s got a masterclass. It’s that MasterClass thing on that app. That’s great to hear. It’s an app so I highly recommend it. Let’s go back to what the biggest challenge was throughout the eight-week sales mastery training. Let’s say someone reading they’re going to schedule a call, which if you want to book one, you can at TheAbundantCall.com. We chat. They take the leap of faith and they jump in. What do you think was the biggest challenge or the biggest struggle doing the work? Because some people always say, “Michelle, you’ve got a bunch of testimonials but what about the hard stuff?” I’m like, “It’s all hard.” What about from your point of view?

There was a lot of soul searching and a lot of struggle initially with some of the basic questions like, “Why am I doing what I am doing? Who am I? Who do I want to serve?” It started out with those soul-searching processes. The work was hard and you had to do the work. My weekends were spent doing a lot of homework.

You’re also getting an email from me.

Because something in my Google Docs is like, “You’ve got to fix it.” I learned from it and it’s a process. Going back through the notes, reviewing it, looking at my sales binder, as well as being in their continuing sales mastery course has been a material decision for me to make to stay with that. Listen to it again, you go, “A-ha. Now I get it.” Sometimes, some of the concepts were so foreign to me as an accountant, not in sales. I didn’t connect the dots all the time the first time but this second time around, working with you has been helpful.

That’s lovely. It’s not salesy and all that. Tell us, what do you feel? How do you feel about sales now, in your firm, as the firm owner?

I love doing sales. If I could do sales and have someone else do the onboarding and all the other hard work and heavy lifting that has to happen, I love it.

Fantastic. What do you think of sales in 2020?

I don’t want to. That puts me out of my comfort zone. Probably the biggest kudos of all for me is the sales mastery course. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was so usually paralyzed by fear and at the end of the day, I was doing too much work and I wasn’t charging enough for what I was doing. I wasn’t always that motivated. I was like, “That looks a hard one. I don’t want to have to go through it.”

You probably ended up doing tasks that would put you further away from having to talk to prospects even though the revenue in our businesses is what pays us and pays our staff. How does this not feel like we have a sinking ship where we’re going to have to close our business. Pushed out of your comfort zone. I hear that all the time even Ross, in your class, said the same thing.

It’s totally normal but now you love sales. Let’s talk about some of your accomplishments. Let’s hear those wins, the big milestones and the changes that you made because I know you’ve increased your monthly recurring revenue and fees. People are paying you upfront. Let’s look at some of the stats like we were looking at the stats of a professional football basketball game at the end. What are those stats for Diana?

My monthly revenue has increased a little over 35%. That’s been a great thing. I’ve set up several people and I was always hourly and that was one thing. I was like, “Diana, don’t be hourly.” I hate being hourly. I don’t want people to buy my hours. I want people to buy my expertise. I’ve set up probably 1/3 of my clients so far on monthly billing. I bill them on the first of the month. On the first day of the month, the bill goes out. They’re all set up by ACH. It’s lovely. My return or turnaround time on my accounts receivable is probably fifteen days, for the majority. Everyone always has a couple of laggers and I’m still working on that piece because I did so many changes at one time. I’m stepping into it.

We have to take small baby steps. You took gigantic steps. You took dinosaur steps and having monthly revenue increased 35%. Can you quantify that for the readers? What does that mean when monthly recurring revenue has gone up X amount of dollars?

Probably about $6,500 a month.

That’s pretty big.

I’m a small firm. If you were a larger firm, increase it that way.

That’s huge. I’m not a mathematician but that’s almost $80,000 a year and that’s extra money that goes to you.

The biggest kudos is that the Sales Mastery course just pushed me out of my comfort zone. Click To Tweet

It goes to investing in my staff.

Eventually, you can invest in marketing. I want to share that Diana did all this without new leads and spending money on marketing. This was all done from what was underneath your firm and underneath the roof once we could dust off the cobwebs and see what was going on.

It was all my hard work to do it. As a business owner, for everyone reading this, it’s all up to us. We’ve got to make this happen. I was at a networking meeting and one of the people sitting next to me was also from a CPA firm but he was a sales and marketing dude. This is me saying that because I’m a business owner but I’m like, “You don’t have the same skin in the game. You don’t feel a lot of the stress and pressure of what has to happen to get a new client on-boarded. Are you listening to what their needs are? Do you know what their pain points are? How are you going to solve those? How are you going to lead them to obtain a dream that they’ve always had?”

I love your languaging.

I don’t feel like sales and marketing employees of a firm have that passion? Maybe they do but I didn’t feel that with him.

A lot of people have contacted me. I can’t recall if you and I spoke about this but typically what gets brought up is, “Michelle, I want to hire someone to do this part for me.” I’m like, “That’s okay but until you can do this part, well, yourself, it’s going to be this guy you met at the networking group.” They don’t have the skin in the game. They don’t listen the same way and this is your livelihood. This is everything.

If you don’t learn this process yourself and you have someone else do it, how can you detect where maybe they’re falling off the wagon or maybe they aren’t following a process 100% accurately. It would be doing the monthly accounting, the debits and credits, you could probably check my work because you already know how to do that well.

The same goes with the front-end process in our firms, which is the most important process because we can’t do debits and credits unless we have the money coming in from our clients. To do the work, we have to be paid first. I loved how you shared it. You want people to buy my expertise and not your hours.

Honestly, this is part of that expertise because there’s a way to do it without being a salesperson, probably how that guy sounded. He probably sounded like your typical whatever you think of a salesperson and most of us think of going to the used car lot. I still do it. Diana, that’s beautiful. Are there any other things that you would want to share? I know we haven’t talked about it yet and I do want to touch on it because a lot of single firms, small firm owners or even bigger firms want to sell eventually. We want the exit.

That was part of my retirement plan. My retirement plan was to get the business up and going on and eventually have an opportunity to sell it. My focus has been to build that business. Build a solid client base so when it’s time, we’ll be able to sell it or be able to work with another firm and as they acquire it, I’ll stay on board for a couple of years because I want my clients to stay on board. In most cases especially with small firms, I know all my clients and they know me. I have a personal relationship with probably 90% of them so it’s important to me that they’re taken care of and it’s done the right way.

The transition is smoother, too. Share with everyone or share with me because we haven’t even talked about this yet, when we sell a firm and we have to make it more valuable, was the keyword you said and have a solid client base but the value of what you’re at now versus 2020 is significantly different. You’re getting the ACHs upfront, the errors are less than fifteen days, the monthly revenues are up and now when you go to sell, you’re putting more money in your pocket for your retirement.

That’s the whole plan. There are those small businesses where that’s not there in the end game but this is definitely mine and it’s several people’s.

It’s several people’s reading here, 100%. Is there anything you’d want to share with coming up with your exit plan or strategy to sell the firm that you think would be helpful for the readers?

I had another firm that is in the business of selling accounting firms call me asking if I would be interested in some tax firm. I said, “I don’t think so. How do you value them?” He said, “It’s totally gross revenue.” They give a multiple of gross revenue. They don’t look at the bottom line. What they do is they want to make sure you’re profitable but it’s all about gross revenues.

The multiple revenues.

They’re getting a solid client base with a solid recurring stream of revenue. That’s what they want.

Revenue is sales. That’s the first thing on a P&L. I do know that.

They want to make sure that the team that’s in place is a good team so as they absorb the firm, they’re going to get good team members along with it.

Team members are another hard subject and a hard topic to come across because sometimes it’s hard to find good team members. If you have them, increasing sales can also put more money in the pockets of your good team members. They don’t have to leave you. When we talk about it in sales classes, we call that putting on the golden handcuffs. You make it so good that it doesn’t make sense for them to go anywhere. When you sell it, you’re that much more attractive because the team is such an important part of the firm.

When I add new clients, I talk to my staff and I say, “Here’s who I’m talking to. You would be a good fit to handle this. What do you think?” When I work with my staff, they know they’re getting another client. It’ll be their client that they’ll take care of too. They end up having skin in the game when they want it to be a success too. It’s two ways. The staff are involved too in the process.

Diana, it was an honor to have you here to share your story. I want to acknowledge you for your tenacity, the grit that you’ve put into this and not giving up, getting comfortable with getting uncomfortable and doing stuff that’s not that easy like thinking outside the box. This is not debits and credits, unfortunately. This was more coming from the heart. You’ve done it, you’re continuing to do it and we’re doing refreshers now. Kudos to you and what you’ve accomplished. Is there anything else that you would love to leave the readers with or any other last words?

AA 73 | Accounting To Sales

Accounting To Sales: Sometimes, concepts were so foreign as an accountant not in sales but the second time around working with you has been very helpful.

Getting out of my comfort zone was probably one of the hardest things. I always say that I’m about as creative as the piece of chalk, not the chalkboard. That was tough for me but helped me grow personally and professionally so thank you.

You’re so welcome and it’s an honor to see your growth. On the day you sell the firm, we’re going to have to have a celebration.

We will.

Thank you for taking out the time. Our time is valuable and people buy your expertise. Everyone here reading has definitely gotten something out of this episode and hopefully, you’ve taken some notes and your expertise has been multiplied by a few hundred to thousands of people’s knowledge. In sharing that, people buy our expertise, they don’t buy our hours is a good thing to walk away from. If you didn’t get anything else out of it, remember that. Thank you, Diana, for being here with us on the show. It was an honor to have you. It’s an honor to have you as a client. We’re still going up to $6,500 in monthly revenue. Let’s hit that $10,000 extra mark.

That’s my goal for 2021. It’s got to be an extra $10,000.

I’m here to make that happen with you. Thanks for being here.

Thanks so much for the invitation.

Much goodness with Diana. She overcame a lot but a few of the big takeaways that I have is number one, getting comfortable being uncomfortable. That was a huge shift for her. Number two, having people buy her expertise and not her hours. That’s a massive shift for her. Also, having her eye at the end goal.

Her end goal when we first spoke was to sell her firm even though at the time she wanted to close her firm because she felt she had a sinking ship. All her clients weren’t paying her and it was deep in the pandemic. For those of you who are like Diana, you see the sales process as something terrifying, overwhelming, a part that you want to dodge completely. She now feels that it’s her favorite part. She wishes she could do the sales process 100% of the time and let someone else do the accounting in the onboarding.

I get this question a lot from some of you who I talked to, “Michelle, I want to hire someone to do the sales in my firm.” What I recommend is that you have to take ownership of it first. I’m dealing with a similar situation in my business. I want to do Facebook ads. I want to help more accountants just like you. The podcast has been great and I get a lot of phone calls but I want to grow it even more. I’ve hired a lot of other people to do these ads for me and I have not gotten the results. I said, “In 2021, I have to figure this out on my own.” In the future, I would be able to hire someone and be able to share, “This is what I would do differently,” or, “This person isn’t a good fit.”

Before we can let the reins go on the most important part of your business, which is top-line revenue, we have to take ownership and get a handle on it on your own. Before I can say, “Facebook person, I’m going to pay you $1,000 or $2,000 a month plus the money for advertising,” which for all of you would be getting leads in the future, we can’t let someone else do that until we’ve done it for ourselves if we have our own business. That’s basically saying, “Facebook person, here’s $3,000. Go to Vegas and let me know how you do.” I have no way to measure it to see if it was a good return on my investment.

You don’t want people to buy your hours. You want people to buy your expertise. Click To Tweet

For each of you, if you’re having a challenge and wrapping your head around the sales process like Diana was, I invite you to go to TheAbundantCall.com. Book a call and we will take a peek and look at where your accounting business is at especially with your sales process. Where you would like it to be? What’s your exit? What’s your endgame goal? If I feel like you’re a good fit, we can talk about that and we can go through what’s included in the eight-week sales mastery training that we spoke about.

Don’t take my word for it. I’ve got a bunch of testimonials on the website. If you go to TheAbundantCall.com and you’ve heard it straight from Diana. I look forward to talking to a few of you. Please make sure you own your own accounting firm and that you’ve at least been in business for two years.

Thank you so much for being here and reading. I hope you’ve learned something that you can take away even if it’s only that people buy your expertise and not your hours. That’s the biggest thing that I heard from Diana that I hope each of you takes to heart. Thank you for being here. I will see you in the next episode.

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About Diana Louiso

AA 73 | Accounting To SalesDiana Louiso, owner of DL MoneyMatters, is celebrating her 10-year anniversary in business. She is a Cincinnati native with over 30 years of hands-on accounting experience in small to medium size service organizations. When her professional life dovetailed with the family experience as caretaker of an aging parent overseeing financial matters and personal care, Diana was motivated to make both business and personal “money matters”.
Her original focus was to work with seniors and their families to help manage the day-to-day finances. In the process of building her client base, she was receiving referrals for small business owners that were struggling to manage and grow their business, leaving the accounting piece at the bottom of the list. Soon she realized the benefit of having two different and yet complimentary client bases changing her marketing focus for both.
The business has continued to grow and the experience of completing the Sales Mastery Training Course has been very impactful. More than anything else, it gave her back the confidence she had when she first started her firm, giving her many tools to use for sales initiatives and client retention. Per Diana “I was pushed out of my comfort zone where I had been paralyzed by fear, doing too much work and was consistently underpaid. Not no more!”

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