The Abundant Accountant | Denise Mandeau | Accounting Sales

 

It’s a very common struggle for accounting and tax professionals to ask for equivalent value for the services they offer. How do we fight this tendency and begin to master accounting sales? In this podcast episode, Michelle Weinstein is back with recurrent guest Denise Mandeau as they delve into the challenges faced by firm owners when it comes to navigating the delicate art of accounting sales. Drawing from her over 35 years of sales experience, Denise shares valuable insights on overcoming discomfort, shifting mindset towards abundance, and mastering the skill of asking for fair compensation. Discover the psychology behind sales, learn strategies for presenting irresistible value, and understand the consequences of not confidently engaging clients. If you’re ready to transform your approach to accounting sales and build a more prosperous practice, this episode is a must-listen. Tune in now for actionable tips and empowering perspectives!

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Mastering Accounting Sales: Understanding Why Firm Owners Feel Uncomfortable Asking for Money With Denise Mandeau

We have a very special guest, and our special guest is not only my partner in crime, but also has proven success as a business owner and financial planner, and is an award-winning sales professional with over 35 years of experience. She learned what it takes to produce results and has been working with professionals and sales teams for the last few years, and with me for the last six years, and helped generate millions of dollars in new business. She has personally closed over $2.8 million in new business in the last 12 months. Our special guest is also passionate about teaching others to learn how to sell without being salesy.

Before we welcome our special guest to the show, I know many of you are very smart, hardworking tax, bookkeeping, and accounting firm owners. You might think that the way to get new clients or retain current ones is to keep your fees low, maybe do some free work because you’re scared of getting rejected, or simply just work more hours and never bill for it. It’s not true. We both know that ends up in burnout and growing resentment for the clients and the work that you do.

The firm owners we work with charge premium fees by ethically doubling or tripling their fees to current clients, and by following a much newer and far simpler method that we’ve created here at The Abundant Accountant. This allows firm owners to charge higher fees with confidence, and get paid first up front, resulting in doubling their firm revenue, working less, and having total financial security and more disposable cash. If you are ready to make a change and start creating the firm that you’ve always dreamt of, book a call with me and my team at TheAbundantCall.com. We look forward to speaking to some of you soon. Now, let’s welcome Denise Mandeau to the show. Welcome, Denise, to the show.

Hi, Michelle. It’s so good to be back. We haven’t talked in a while.

I know. I’m so excited to do an episode together. It’s been a little bit. We’ve had a lot of people reach out and say, “How come I haven’t heard an episode with you and Denise lately?” I said, “I’m going to make it happen.” Our goal is to continue this at least once every other month. We are talking about why you might feel weird or feel that it’s salesy when it comes time to ask your clients to engage your firm. When you’re asking for the money, why does it make it so uncomfortable for some firm owners?

Recently, we were asked this from some of our current clients, and I thought this is going to be a great topic because people do get uncomfortable asking for the money. A lot of times, it’s based on past experiences, the scarcity we have around money, feeling guilty, and so many other things. That’s what we’re going to dive into. Grab a pen and paper. Before we dive in, Denise, if you want to share who you are and where you’re at just in case someone doesn’t know who you are and they’re a new audience. If you could real quick, and then we’re going to dive in.

I am here in New Jersey on the other coast from you. I have been doing sales for over 40 years. It’s what I love to do. I love teaching other people that sales is honorable. It’s coming from a place of service. I probably sold millions and millions of dollars of products and services. That’s what we do.

From your point of view, why do some bookkeeping, tax, and accounting firm owners feel guilty when it comes to the sales part of the conversation or specifically asking for money from the prospect that is sitting right in front of them?

Part of it is that they’re conditioned a lot. Most of the accounting, bookkeeping, and tax professionals that we talk to all have huge hearts. They’re good at giving, but not so good at receiving. They think it’s their job to decide for someone whether they can afford their services or not. They get into this pattern that doesn’t serve them or their clients. We would both agree that it’s pretty predominant in the industry. Not just in this industry at all, it’s in many industries, but this is what we hear over and over again. “I feel bad.” What’s that about?

Not only that. I recently had a client tell me in the accounting bookkeeping field, “We care deeply about our clients and their success. That’s why typically we do a lot for free, or we give away free information, or we don’t even ask for the sale.” You wonder why you feel so underpaid and so overworked. You wonder, “Why do I have all this anxiety and stress in my life?” I get that we want to help people. I get that so many of you are people pleasers, and that’s great. However, I think there’s also a perception of value. There’s that providing value. When people want something of value and they know they’re going to get value, being the people pleaser, giving it away for free, or doing it and saying, “I’ll get paid later,” there is no transition or exchange of currency. The financial piece, the money piece.

The Abundant Accountant | Denise Mandeau | Accounting Sales

Accounting Sales: We care deeply about our clients and their success, that’s why typically we just do a lot for free or we don’t even ask for the sale. And you wonder why you feel so underpaid and so overworked.

 

When something is given for free, there is no value. Oftentimes, you think you’re serving them and helping them, but you’re taking away from them because they’re not going to follow through on what you’re telling them to do. There’s nothing in it for them. There’s no skin in the game. Think about all the things that you’ve gotten free offers for. I know you have a good example in the weight loss industry. If something was a quick fill or a quick fix, you didn’t have to work that hard. Go for it. Share your story.

It’s easy to buy something that’s cheap and hope that it works. What I’ve found is that most of the time, $200 or $50 or even $1,000 programs are like, “This is going to work that I’ve bought because it was easy to say yes to,” rather than finding something that worked that was, in my mind, maybe it was a lot more expensive, but when I go back and I add up all the other ones that didn’t work, that cost me way more, than if I had invested a lot in the right program, the right mentors from the first point on.

That becomes the perception of your scarcity mindset.

That’s the thing that we want to get down to here. People feel weird and feel salesy when they don’t understand how to present that they’re more valuable than they think they are. When you understand your own value and you are coming from a place of abundance, not scarcity, if money was infinite, then why would you feel bad about asking someone to pay you your value? It doesn’t make sense.

When you understand your own value and you really are coming from a place of abundance instead of scarcity, then why would you feel bad about asking someone to pay you your value? Click To Tweet

It doesn’t. Also, you have to think about the value exchange. There has to be a currency exchanged and we have to be able to be confident to ask for that. Again, if you don’t feel like removing the anxiety in your life or the stress or having that feeling of being overworked and underpaid, then you don’t have to change a thing. If you want to get to the other side of things, have that abundance, have the money flowing in your account, and alleviate all the feelings that have you feeling stuck in a rut, this is what has to change.

People want to buy from people who have certainty and they have confidence. When you have the confidence and can see everything from the set of the abundance, and that if they do pay you, they’ll actually value you because there is no value in something that’s for free or very low price, then the act of asking for that sale transforms into an opportunity to provide more value and help them. You then get to do the thing you want, which is help another client, help a business owner out, or help a brand new startup. Instead of saying, “I feel bad. I’m a people pleaser. I got in this industry because I want to help and serve people.” That doesn’t mean we give it away for free because otherwise, they don’t see that value.

It goes back to also, you’re feeling bad, so then you think you’re being pushy if you ask somebody to buy, but people want to buy. They don’t want to be sold, but they do want to buy things. An example, one of our students said, “If I do a tax plan and I could save the person $5,000, but it costs them $2,000, will they feel good about it?” I’m like, “It’s already costing them $5,000 for you not to help them. That’s the real cost. Is it wrong for you to offer them a solution that will leave them with more money in their pocket? Should you feel bad?” Doctors don’t feel bad. They don’t feel bad if they go to you and say, “You have cancer, this is what we can do to resolve it.” They don’t say, “Do you want to do it?” They say, “Let’s schedule your surgery right now.” They assume that you want to have it because you don’t want to be sick.

That’s very true. We have to become more confident and certain when we ask for a sale. In our world, we like to say, “Which form of payment works best for you?” You could then say, “Do you want to do ACH?” If you’re a bookkeeper, you might want to get them on an automatic payment or if you’re moving into the subscription model. This is instead of saying, “Are you ready to get going?” The worst question you could possibly ask someone when you’re ready to move forward into the next step is a yes or a no question. If you ask it that way, you have a 50/50 chance of hearing no.

I’d love it, Denise, if you could share a little bit about the psychology and what your thoughts are on the feeling that if you say which form of payment works best for you, ACH, Amex, or whichever one the client is going to be using after you have them sign or before they sign the engagement letter. You don’t have to feel pushy. You don’t have to feel arrogant. You don’t have to feel salesy assuming that they’re all in without asking if they’re in.

It begins with your own beliefs. It begins with your own beliefs that you are doing them a service, not just offering this to them but taking a stand that you’re helping them solve a big problem. When we’re coming from that and we’re offering solutions and the value is there, then the psychology of it is that you have to assume that this is for their best interest. If it’s not, then you don’t offer it. That would be the wrong thing to do, then you’re being pushy and salesy when you’re offering something that isn’t in their best interest.

Also, from a psychological standpoint, we’re conditioned when somebody asks us a yes or no question, especially when it involves buying something. We’re conditioned as human beings to say no or “let me think about it.” You’re conditioned that way. We have to understand that you have to interrupt that pattern to give the person an opportunity to get past their own patterns as well.

How would you go about the difference? One of our clients asked recently, “When you present the investment, I will get you, let’s say $3 in savings after my fee of $1.” You’re ahead, even though I don’t say it that way. Versus, “I will ensure you pay the least amount in tax, so you won’t be stressed that you’re leaving something on the table,” which is the way I actually would present it. “I will ensure you pay the least amount in tax, so you won’t stress, you can sleep at night, and never have to go down this path ever again.” The investment with me is $1,000 or I would say, “Which works best for you, so we can get started to get you off the sidelines, get you off the IRS’ back, put that money to work so you can keep more in your pocket, not stressed, and be able to sleep peacefully at night. You can do an ACH or you can use an Amex, which works best for you.”

That was excellent. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Wonderful. I’m so happy that I said it that way. I know you’re a former investment advisor. How was it when you asked for the investment from someone who was going to give you all their assets to manage at that firm? How would the conversation go at the end for you with those points?

It’d be like, “We’ve spent this time. We spent time building a relationship. I understand what you’re trying to accomplish.” In this case, I was helping them with their retirement. “In order for us to accomplish all of the things that you said you want to accomplish, it will require us to take some more time together. The investment will be X amount of dollars a year to get started. Let’s get the paperwork filled out and we’ll set up our first meeting so we can move everything over and I can help you accomplish everything that you said that you would like to accomplish for your retirement” or something along those lines.

You never asked a yes or no question.

No, I would never ask that. I genuinely in my heart know that I am helping someone. If they don’t work with us or if they don’t work with me, I can’t help them. They’re still going to be in the same crappy situation.

I think that also is important for a firm owner. You’re unique, you’re different, you’re special. If you don’t ask them to invest in you, they’re probably going to be in the same situation they were when they met you, especially if you’re doing a bookkeeping cleanup or you’re doing a tax resolution engagement, or maybe you’re even doing tax planning and they’ve been overpaying in taxes for so long. All of those situations are a lot worse than if they invest in you.

By reframing the way you’re communicating on the sales side of things, then asking them to work with you by assuming the sale and that they want to work with you because guess what, if they don’t want to work with you, let them tell you. They will give you an objection, they will say, “I need to think about it.” They’re going to say, “I need to talk to five other firm owners.” Whatever they’re going to say. If we assume that they want to work with us, then we continue because understanding the impact of what it will cost them, if you don’t help them right then and there, is one of the most important parts of this puzzle. You have to get clear about that before you meet with a client.

I am very clear that if one of you talks to me or Denise and you want to get out of the rut you’re in, you want to double your fees, you’re sick of being underpaid, you’re sick of being paid like a dollar store when you know you should be paid like a top-notch surgeon. If any of that is you and we’re on the phone, we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure that we can help you if we can and we’ll let you know that.

If we are able to help you, we will definitely let you know that and invite you to work with us. We will let you tell us if you don’t want to. We’re not going to say, “Firm owner, do you want our help? Do you want to make this investment?” We’re programmed as human beings to say no. Denise, can you speak a little bit on the psychology of how humans are designed to say no all the time?

It’s a protection mechanism. It’s like a survival mechanism, but sometimes we don’t realize that we’re actually hurting ourselves. The psychology is most people who are on the presenting side, their biggest fear is somebody is going to reject them or say no.

When you assume the sale, there’s a lesser chance of being rejected versus asking, “Are you ready to get started or do you want to work with me?” Then you’re asking for the rejection.

The Abundant Accountant | Denise Mandeau | Accounting Sales

Accounting Sales: When you assume the sale, there’s a lesser chance of being rejected versus asking.

 

We don’t think of it that way, but that’s so true. It doesn’t mean that people can’t still say no when you ask them to move forward. Let’s get started. They might say no. No doesn’t really mean no. In our minds, no is just a word. It’s two letters, N-O. That’s all it means. In my mind, no means “I don’t have enough information to say yes or I don’t see enough value here. I don’t understand the value.” What we need to learn more or what people need to learn is how to present the value in a way that is irresistible. You don’t want to miss out.

It’s true because if they miss out, and I think that’s what I was sharing earlier, getting clear on the consequences of what it would be like to not work with you. If they choose to not work with you, or if they choose to go somewhere else, what are their alternatives? A lot of you have seen mistakes from other firm owners. A lot of you have seen books that have been a mess, and then you do a cleanup project. All of that was because someone chose a firm owner who was probably way too busy. They took on any client that came to them. They did it for really cheap just to get the business. They then had the consequence of executing the work properly.

When you have too much volume and you feel buried in paperwork, and you can barely breathe and you’re grinding out 14 to 18-hour days, and you always say to yourself, “Next year I’m not going to do that again.” Next year comes around and you do it again, then nothing’s ever going to change for you either. You have to think about what are you going to do differently to shift from the scarcity mindset on sales to the abundant side of things. How your perception of the consequence maybe about the money or anything like that is in your way from asking for the sale and moving forward in a way that feels good to you.

Very much so. Again, it’s about you owning your own value and that will translate to your prospect or your potential client when you have certainty and confidence that you’re delivering excellent service, then you don’t need to sell. You just serve and people want to engage with you. It’s that simple.

When you have certainty and confidence that you're delivering excellent service, then you really don't need to sell. Click To Tweet

It is that simple. I would like to leave one other thought in that when you can make it less about you and more about the prospect, this isn’t going to change your life, this isn’t going to impact your bank account. You don’t need them as a client, but you’re committed to wanting to work with them. If they see you in value, I would focus on preparing for your sales meeting, preparing for the ask, and letting the rest fall into place on where exactly it should be.

If you’re interested in how you should maybe ask for the sale, I would recommend what I shared earlier, and I’ll leave it at that because I think that is the best way and the most successful way I’ve seen it in all my years. Make sure to make it about the problems you’re going to solve, how they won’t have to deal with the IRS, messy books, penalties, interest, fees, and other things. What is the consequence that you’re going to help them eliminate? Also, which form of payment works best to get started and get off the sidelines and get into action with you so you can sleep peacefully at night and whatever else they’re going to feel once you’re taking care of them.

That is how I would ask for the sale, which is another way of assuming the sale, but asking in a way that has them get into action. Instead of them saying, “No, I want to think about it. No, I want to go talk to other firms. No, thank you so much for meeting, I’ll get back to you. I’ll email you when I’m ready.” Anyone who’s ever told me that never email when they’re ready. The percentage is so low that I’d rather have them make a decision and that’s another thing, we didn’t even talk about that. In a meeting, a client is making a decision no matter what. They’re going to decide to move forward with you or they’re going to go the other direction.

Michelle, wouldn’t you rather have a fast no than a slow no?

Yeah, just move on. We’ve been doing it so long so we don’t feel the rejection. Where I know a lot of you, the number one fear is being rejected. I rather you get a lot of repetition in and get the rejections under your belt. The quicker you can get to a no, the faster you can help more people.

Absolutely, 100%.

Anything else you want to add, Denise, to our conversation?

No, I think this is a pretty meaty conversation.

It’s normal to feel weird in the beginning as you’re getting used to this. It might feel salesy or pushy, but a lot of it’s also based on your past experiences. If you bought a car and it went sideways, I get it. If you go to the mall and they’re asking you to sample this and try this, I get it. You’ve had a lot of terrible sales conversations with people. When it’s the right time and when it feels good for you, that’s when you want to ask to move forward. If you don’t help them that day, the chances of you helping them are slim to none because I know a lot of you here have sent out a proposal and are still waiting to hear from those clients.

If you are ready to stop grinding fourteen hours a day, get paid your worth, and learn how to ask for the sale with confidence, ease, and prestige, then head on over to TheAbundantCall.com and you can talk to me, Denise, or someone else on our team because we would love to show you the art of selling on how you can do this without feeling salesy, without being pushy, and without any of that stuff, and never send out a quote or a proposal ever again. Never negotiate or discount your fees and be able to price exactly based on what you’re worth. Never have to dread another tax season ever again.

Our clients, by the way, use a proven step-by-step process in order to do all of this. If you want us to show you exactly how to do this, go to TheAbundantCall.com and book your call with myself and my team right now. Thank you all so much for being here on another amazing episode of The Abundant Accountant show. We look forward to seeing you in our next episode.

 

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About Denise Mandeau

The Abundant Accountant | Denise Mandeau | Accounting Sales

Denise Mandeau, Business Growth Strategist and has proven success as a Business Owner, Financial Planner and award-winning Sales professional for over 35 years. She has learned what it takes to produce results and has been working with professionals and sales teams over the last few years helping them to generate millions of dollars in new business. She has personally closed over $1.8 million in new business in the last 12 months. Denise is passionate about teaching others to learn how to sell without being salesy!

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