When you started your accounting firm, did you know that you were signing up to be in sales?
Most accountants who start their firms are shocked when they realize they are now in a 24/7 sales job.
Every conversation they have with clients is a sales conversation, believe it or not! So how can you get better at those sales conversations?
How can you turn those conversations into business opportunities that save your clients thousands of dollars and bring abundant revenue into your firm?
The solution for many accountants is hiring a sales strategist.
However, it’s easy to hesitate:
- Is it worth the time/money investment?
- Do I NEED a sales strategist?
- How do I choose a sales strategist?
These are all great questions that I am here to answer!
It’s important to remember that no matter how good you are at the numbers, most of your clients won’t buy based on the spreadsheets – they buy from an emotional perspective.
In this episode of The Abundant Accountant podcast, The Pitch Queen breaks down the value of a sales strategist, how they can help explode your business, and how to choose the right sales strategist.
If your sales have been in a slump, or you’ve taken a month off because you haven’t had any business, you’ll want to tune in to this week’s episode of the Abundant Accountant podcast!
Terra Optima sponsor this episode. Terra Optima provides tax-efficient real estate strategies for small to mid-size accounting firms and have become a proven resource to help grow the high net-worth client base for firms all over the country. They possess a wealth of resources in the conservation space, as well as tools to add to your success in assembling and presenting tax plans attractive to your clients. Whether it’s to manage a personal land conservation project for your client or to participate in a “best in class” real estate project that could have a conservation outcome, make them a part of your resource team today. Learn more at www.Terra-Optima.com
Here are a few key secrets we talked about in this episode:
- The Pitch Queen, Michelle, introduces herself and shares about her business.
- I invested in myself and went to a big digital marketing conference. One of my biggest takeaways is that you want to be the thermostat in your firm, not the thermometer. You want to set how hot you want your firm to be!
- Invest in yourself! That allows you to set the thermostat MUCH better!
- When you started your firm, did you create a JOB for yourself?
- Although data and numbers are great, it’s sometimes not enough to enroll new clients.
- Not everyone buys from a spreadsheet – people buy from emotion.
- A sales strategist helps you focus on new skills, knowledge, and strategies.
- “If I am not my best self, how can I serve YOU? If I am not learning and growing, how can I help you?” ~ The Pitch Queen
- You go to learn the technical knowledge. You do continuing education credits. You need these skills and knowledge to help your client at a greater level! If you can’t get them to come and work with you, the technical knowledge doesn’t help!
- “The best MBA is the one you figure out on your own.” ~ The Pitch Queen
- To serve, you have to see your weaknesses. It’s not the most fun, but the biggest way to grow and get past fears blocking you.
- No one knows everything. You should strive to learn one new thing every day.
- If you are the best tax planner out there, how can you learn a new thing every day in an area you are NOT great in? Choose sales, client relationships, or follow-up.
- No matter how good you are, you can always become better.
- Do you want a thousand clients at $10 each or a few clients at $1000 or $10,000 each?
- Working with a coach will help you learn new methods and get the best outcome for your firm and your clients.
- You forget that you signed up for sales – but every time a client calls you, it’s a sales conversation.
- Consider – how many missed opportunities have you had in the past 6-12 months by not working on yourself? Not having time to seek out anyone or work on yourself is not the best way to set yourself up for success.
- You don’t want to be complacent – not working on yourself is the first step to a failed business.
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Do You want to MAKE MORE MONEY and WORK FEWER HOURS?
Join me so you can unlock the secrets to growing a profitable accounting firm with less stress by joining our upcoming Abundant Accountants Masterclass!
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Why Having A Sales Strategist For Your Accounting Firm Is Worth It
This episode is brought to you by Terra Optima. What is Terra Optima? They provide tax-efficient real estate strategies with their core competency and land conservation easements. They possess a wealth of resources in the conservation space, as well as tools to help your clients realize the tax benefits related to land conservation. Make them a part of your resource team. You can contact them at Terra-Optima.com or give them a call at (772) 227-0322. Make Terra Optima a part of your team.
Welcome to the show where accounting professionals come to learn the most efficient and powerful ways to grow their firm, sharpen their skills and have a consistent increasing revenue. We cover topics from networking, pricing, finding your ideal clients, increasing cashflow, setting boundaries with clients and much more so you can stop giving away your time, expertise and information away for free and start getting paid your value and your worth. You’ll learn tips and strategies as well as read personal interviews with successful accounting professionals. This will show you exactly how to create the business and life of your dreams full of abundance.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this show, I wanted to start a new format and start sharing an appreciation of the reviewer of the show. This reviewer is Yoli. Yoli said, “Michelle hits the nail on the head with the questions she asks. This is the information I need to read. All the ‘what’s really going’ stuff from people that have a successful firm and what it took from them to get there. I love it and I can’t wait to read more.” With that said, I want to hear from more of you. I want to also make sure you subscribe and leave a rating and review so I can share your appreciation on my next review on the next episode. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your reviews.
With that being said, I also want to make sure that I share it on social. If you take a screenshot of this episode on your phone, at the end when you’re finished reading it, tag me at @ThePitchQueen on your LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram. Also, post this to your Instagram story, if you have it or as a post, I will make sure to share it. Also, put @TheAbundantAccountantPodcast. I would love to know what your takeaways are from this episode and what you think about it.
We are starting. Welcome to the show. The topic is why having an accountant sales strategist is worth it in your firm. Here’s a little food for thought. I invested in myself and went to a big digital marketing conference. One of the biggest takeaways that I learned from Dean Graziosi is that you want to be the thermostat in your firm. You do not want to be the thermometer. Let me explain that to you. When you’re the thermostat in your firm, it’s like you get to set the dial. Do you want to be at 69 degrees or 81 degrees? How hot do you want your firm to be with the abundance and clients that you want and everything that you’re looking for?You want to be the thermostat in your firm. You do not want to be the thermometer. When you're the thermostat in your firm, you get to set the dial. Click To Tweet
If you’re just taking the temperature, then you’re looking at the knob and seeing what temperature it is but you have no way to set the thermostat. By investing in yourself, in your knowledge, in a sales strategist or your personal development and growth, you’re able to set the thermostat a lot better. You’re not just taking a temperature. Think about that. Dean was awesome. I invested a lot in myself to go to this conference. Do you want to control your firm life or your firm to control your life? That’s what this is about. Are you in control of your freedom and your free time or is your firm in control of your life? Did you just create yourself a job? I hope you didn’t. That is what we’re talking about in this episode.
One of the questions I hear most from accountants is if an accounting sales strategist, a sales coach and a business coach are worth it. It makes sense because sometimes sales coaching can get a negative reputation. I’ve been told that personally. It can also become a waste of time. It can become ineffective. Have you ever, in your business, looked in the mirror and thought you would be further ahead? Have you ever had that thought? You’ve been working at this for 1 year or 2 and you’re spinning your wheels.
The Benefits Of A Sales Strategist
If you feel that way, in this episode, I will explain why having a sales strategist, an accounting sales strategist, a business coach or whatever you want to call it, is worth it and how you can choose the right one and also how it can be a great return on your investment. The benefits of a sales strategist or AKA a coach, although all the data and numbers are great and I know that each of you loves data and you love numbers, it’s sometimes, most often not enough to enroll new clients.
I was working with one of my clients, Scott. Scott was in my class that I had where I’m a sales strategist. He was in class and was like, “Michelle, I thought if I could save a client $40,000, why wouldn’t they want me to help them in their business?” I’m like, “Scott, not everyone will buy off a spreadsheet like myself. If you tell me, ‘Michelle, you can save $100,000 in taxes. I’m going to charge you $20,000 for doing that.’ I’d be like, ‘No problem. Sign me up. When can we start? How soon can we make this happen?'” For most of your clients, it’s not going to be that way, unfortunately. People buy off emotion.
One of the things is that the benefits of having a sales strategist or a coach are you get to learn new things that maybe you’re not privy to. In undergrad accounting classes, when you’re getting your CPA, these things aren’t taught. When you’re working with a sales coach, a regular business coach or whatever type of coach you have, you’re focusing on developing new skills, knowledge and the use of strategies to attract new clients. That’s what Scott learned from me. He was able to close $248,000 in revenue in a 2-month period.
This has been revenue that was sitting on the table not doing anything. His clients were paying more in taxes for that whole other year since he wasn’t able to convert them into new clients. Not only did it hurt him but it hurt his clients too. When we don’t convert our clients into working with us, there’s an opportunity cost missed for them and ourselves. It’s like a double whammy. My mission and goal are if you want to work with me or another coach, it doesn’t matter. Invest in yourself.
I invested in almost a six-month leadership training. That was a lot of work but if I’m not my best self, then how can I serve and be my best self to each of you? How can I come and do a show episode and be able to be my best if I’m not growing and learning on my own? There are areas for me to be able to communicate with each of you better, which is why I went and invest myself in leadership training for six months. I went to one of the biggest digital marketing conferences. I know each of you goes to places for your technical knowledge. I get that.
You go to the CPA conferences and EA conferences. You’re doing all of your continuing education credits but no one is teaching and developing the skills and knowledge needed to help your clients at a greater level. You can help on the technical side but if we can’t get the client to come and work with you, then you can’t do the technical work. We’re teaching you other sales opportunities to help you get more clients and get more revenue flowing in your firm. Maybe you’re thinking, “Is it worth the time?” I don’t know.
The leadership training I went through for six months was the most amount of time I have ever invested in anything. It was so much time. The financial commitment wasn’t that large but the time commitment was. I believe that the ROI you’ll see down the road, you might not see it immediately in an 8-week period like Scott did but you’ll see it in a 90-day to 120-day, maybe 9-month period. I always believe it is worth the time. Going through training will help teach you how to fix your problems so you don’t have to seek someone else to fix them for you. Maybe this makes you better and more successful as a business owner.Training will help teach you how to fix your problems, so you don't have to seek someone else. This may make you better and more successful as a business owner. Click To Tweet
I know that having your business isn’t taught in any book at Barnes & Noble or most MBA programs. The best MBAs are the ones that you figure out on your own. We go to the school of hard knocks of entrepreneurship. For each of you opening up an accounting firm, who would’ve ever known you had to be a 24/7 salesperson too? You’re doing all the technical work, the tax planning and the compliance work. You might be doing tax resolution, executive business consulting or tax advice engagement. There are so many technical elements but who taught you what to do on the business side?
See The Areas You’re Weak
That’s the part of client engagement, client follow-up, client enrollment and all of those other pieces that come with it. It allows you to see the areas where you’re weak in. When you’re working with someone, you get a mirror and you get to see the area that you can improve on. To serve more clients, we must see the areas where we are weak. It’s not the most fun, I’ll be honest but it’s the biggest way to grow and get past any fears blocking you or anything like that. If you hire the right coach, trust me, it’ll be worth the time. They will point out to you where you are missing the boat.
There are also a lot of different sales situations that maybe you haven’t been trained in. Only proper coaching can help you advance in those problem-solving areas on your own. That is what I would say if it’s worth your time. Ultimately, it’s for you to figure out. No one knows everything. I had a call with a new client and one of the things I said was, “What is the thing that you’re most interested in about getting started with a training program?”
He said, “Michelle, I’m 48 years old. I could probably retire now but there’s always something else to learn. If I am going to do executive business coaching and consulting and tax planning consulting with business owners, then I need to learn what I don’t know.” You never know. You don’t know what you don’t know. For him, everyone needs to strive to learn one thing every day. Learn one thing new in an area that you’re not the best at. If you are the best tax planner out there or you’re doing tax resolution or for him, he was doing a lot of estate tax planning work, then how can you learn one thing every day in the area that you’re not that great in?
Maybe it’s in the area of sales, client relations or follow-up. My fellow client, Scott, didn’t follow up often enough. He had $248,000 in revenue in a 2-month period that he probably could have done 12 months prior if he had a follow-up system in place. A sales strategist, a sales coach or a business coach often gives you unique approaches that you may have used in the past. It also refreshes us that everything is important. People forget tips and tricks in any sales process. In one of my classes, we were discussing how to handle client questions. Mary got a call from a client who said, “Mary, I’m thinking about buying this business. I want you to review the financials.”
Mary picks up the phone and starts listening to everything Ben had to tell her. If you’re deep in your work, what I shared with Mary is, why don’t we honor our time and set up a new appointment with Ben for a future time and date so you can think clearly and Ben can honor and respect your time, which is important. No matter how good you are, you can always become better. Mary learned that she needs to become better in the area of respecting her time. Any phone call where someone picks up the phone and says, “I have a question and it’s urgent,” there’s nothing ever too urgent. We are not in the business of people dying. We are not ER trauma surgeons.
I was trained that if I got this tax form or tax bill in the mail, I better call my CPA. I freak out. We are trained to freak out about these things. What I was showing Mary is if you slow it down a little bit and say, “Ben, I am so excited that you’re about to buy this business. I am ecstatic but I’m in the middle of 3 or 4 projects. I want to make sure I give you a lot of time and focus on you. Would next week on Monday or Tuesday work best for you? I’ve got three slots open on both days, which day works best?” Leave it at that.
Sales And Enrollment Trends Change
Number one, this helps Ben understand your rules, what you are going to allow into your firm and what you are not. From Mary’s point of view, it was great because she has more time to think clearly. She’s able to not only think clearly but be more present to Ben instead of just answering our questions as they call and spewing them off. No one knows everything, that’s the biggest takeaway from this. There’s always something to learn. The next important thing, which helps keeps you ahead of the curve is through time, sales and enrollment trends change. The way that you operate your business now is probably very different from you operated several years ago, especially when you’re offering higher-value services.
I talk to a lot of accountants every week and one of the biggest things that are changing the most in the industry is that with your new tax forms being filled out on a postcard or places like H&R Block or other places, you need to increase your value because the lower value work is going to go away soon. Do you want to work with 1,000 clients at $10 a piece or a few clients at maybe $1,000 or $10,000 a piece? That’s your choice. Working with a sales strategist or a business coach will help people learn new methods. It will help you get the best outcome for your firm but also for your clients.
The whole client process, if you’re working with services of $1,000 to $10,000, is very different than if you’re offering a tax return at $100 or $150. It’s a very different transaction. What I’m saying is that if you want to be transactional, then probably what you’re doing is great. If you want to shift into more value-based services where your client can understand your value and see it and they’re not going to buy off a spreadsheet, then this is an opportunity for that. You’ll also become more effective at enrollment. You’ll become more effective at selling and might like it a lot.
A lot of accountants that I’ve talked to say, “Michelle, I hate the sales process.” You forgot you signed up for a 24/7 sales career when you didn’t want to work at one of the big firms or just have a job. Anytime a client calls you as Mary experienced with Ben, that’s a sales conversation. That’s the exact conversation that I’m talking about and that setting the standard and making sure that she did not just give Ben all the answers right then and there but being like, “Ben, I have time on Monday or Tuesday at this time.” Also, honoring Mary’s boundaries to provide the top-level service that Ben needs to see if he should invest or buy in this business. I think he was buying it out.
For you to review financials on the fly, that takes a different approach. Becoming more effective at enrollment, selling and servicing your clients from any coaching investment, I promise you, is a good ROI. I haven’t been to any conference, hired a coach or done any leadership program that hasn’t pretty much exploded my business or income in earnings. If you invest in yourself, be it with me, another business coach or anyone whom you believe that you’d like and that you also trust, it will pay off tremendously and they’ll hold you accountable, I’m sure too.
Scott didn’t have a lot of time to invest prior to when we first spoke. He was busy. One of the red flags that I have is if you’re too busy, then it’s not going to be a good fit. He came back about nine months later and that’s when he told me, “Michelle, I’ve had these five clients that have just been there. I haven’t been able to help them because they’re not calling me back. Every time I have a meeting, they want to think about it and they’re not sure what they want to do.” Anytime a client tells you they want to think about it, it’s almost painful. Especially if you’re able to save them money, every year that goes by, it’s costing them more and more.
For a lot of Scott’s clients, it was costing them anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000. Every year, they waited. With that, Scott did $248,000 in a 2-month period of working with me. He had another $100,000 that he was able to do in January 2020, which typically in every other January, his sales were a big fat zero. He said that he’s never had January sales previously in his business and that he normally took that time off. Now, he did an extra $100,000 in revenue. What I’d like you to think about and consider is how many missed opportunities have you had by not seeking help or working on yourself as a firm owner. Think about that.
Not having the time to seek out anyone or work on yourself is not the best way to set you up for success. I understand CPE credits are fabulous but think about you as a person, your leadership and your growth, especially if you have a team of people, it’s important. There are some interesting numbers I wanted to share with you. It was from a sales intelligence group. Seventy-four percent of leading companies say coaching is the most important thing you can invest in and sales training can improve the performance of individuals by an average of 20% increase. That’s pretty good. That means you have a pretty good return on investment for sure.
Here are some things to consider when you’re thinking about which sales strategist is right for you. Think about how much time you want to spend with your strategist or coach. How professional and personal do you want them to be with you? It’s another thing to consider. If you’ve been looking up different programs and people out there, think about that question. How many hours are you willing to dedicate? That’s a key one. How many hours are you willing to dedicate to learning and investing in yourself? When I went to the conference, I was committed to dedicating about 6 hours a day for 3 days so I invested 18 hours.If you've been looking up different programs and people, think about how many hours you are willing to dedicate. Click To Tweet
For my leadership class for 6 months, I invested anywhere from 10 to 15 hours per week. How many hours are you willing to dedicate? How serious are you? That’s something you want to ask yourself. How serious are you about transforming your firm and growing your business? Do you want to do group sessions or one-on-one? Some people want to work one-on-one. You might even look into mastermind groups. There are a few accounting mastermind groups for you to check out. Do you want group sessions? Do you want mastermind groups? Do you want one-on-one? Which one do you choose?
My takeaway for you is to do a little research and see why a sales strategist or a business coach is worth it. See what’s out there. Do some googling. Spend fifteen minutes and Google away and see how this can help you grow the firm that you’ve always wanted, full of the clients that you love, full of abundance and see which sales strategist is right for you.
Thank you all so much for joining me on this show. I can’t wait to hear what you put into action or implement, if I hear from you, you bring on another business coach in your firm or even join a mastermind group. Before you go, remember to screenshot this and share it with me on LinkedIn or Facebook and tag me @ThePitchQueen and #TheAbundantAccountantPodcast. I always like to see who’s reading. I’ll share it in my review on the next show. If you have a quick second, please leave me a rating and a review on iTunes and also subscribe to the show because I always like hearing from you and this is how I will share future reader reviews.
Before I let you go, if you want to learn the three strategies my accounting clients use to build their accounting practice with premium clients who will eagerly pay them what they’re worth, feel free to sign up for my free master class at TheAbundantAccountant.com. You’ll learn how to communicate your value, collect higher fees with confidence and get paid what you’re worth so you can live that life of abundance. I would love to see you there. Thank you so much for reading. Have a great day.
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