A person goes to a professional with a specific set of wants and needs in mind, and that is something that you, as an accountant, have to be sensitive to. To a potential client, the value of your services is not weighed by your technical know-how or resumé, but rather, they look at how you can help them get what they want and need. Michelle Weinstein is joined by business growth strategist Denise Mandeau. Mixing in a bit of roleplay, Michelle and Denise illustrate how to win a client over by appealing to the things that they want to be able to achieve. If you want to get more yeses from potential clients, don’t miss this important conversation between Michelle and Denise!
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How To Prove Your Value Against The Cost Of Your Accounting Services With Denise Mandeau
We have a very special guest. Our special guest is my partner in crime in our Eight Week Sales Mastery Training. Her name is Denise Mandeau. She has over twenty or so years of sales experience. We call this High Relationship Enrollment Selling, if you want to call it selling. Denise is joining us to talk about proving your value as an accounting professional where the cost of your accounting services don’t even matter.
Before we welcome Denise, if you are an accounting professional and maybe you’ve been frustrated and stressed trying to get the right clients, the right referrals and you feel like you have no control over who you’re working with as the client or even how much you can charge, you possibly don’t even believe that you could ever get a yes from a higher value monthly client or a high annual engagement that can afford your price, it is not your fault and I know that. Nobody is training on how to fix these problems and connect the dots. We created an online training program called our Eight-Week Sales Mastery Training and I am excited to offer you a free coaching session so I can share this information with you. How you can get your ideal clients coming to you so you can build a dream practice, work less, have more time and money to spend with your family and your kids. If you’ve been in business for more than two years or having a struggle with your sales conversations, head on over to TheAbundantCall.com to schedule your coaching session with myself or Denise. This episode is brought to you by Xero. As an accountant, when you join Xero, you’ll gain access to a full range of practice management tools, so you can manage your practice and your clients from almost anywhere. To learn more about building a better practice with Xero, visit Xero.com.
One of the questions that I hear the most from most accounting professionals is, “How do I show the value of my services and my expertise to potential clients where the cost or the investment of them working with me isn’t that big?” Clients don’t work based off spreadsheets. I totally get that because it can be very difficult to prove your value of your work, especially if you’re charging a lot for your high-end tax plans, your high-end profit first services or maybe a service where it should be a no brainer. Denise and I are going to share with you three different ways that you can truly communicate your value, start getting yeses from clients way more often no matter what you want to charge for your services and where you’re truly feeling like you’re getting paid every dime that you’re worth for your knowledge, expertise, CPA, MBA, Master’s degree in Tax and maybe even your Law degree. Welcome, Denise, to the show.
We are talking about proving your value against the cost of your services and it’s definitely something that we hear about all the time, especially in our Eight-Week Sales Mastery Training and everywhere else that I run into accounting professionals. I love this topic because it’s about understanding clients’ problems. It’s about understanding what their dreams are. A lot of you might think about, “It’s about what someone needs.” It’s not because this is about sharing their understanding of what the client’s problems are, but ultimately understanding your expertise and how you can solve those for your potential clients.
We understand that this is a difficult thing to communicate. We are going to hopefully help you understand maybe three different ways that you can help communicate the value of your work. Especially if you’re charging high fees for your services like a high-end tax plan or profit first or a pumpkin plan. Depending on whatever plan you’re doing, it’s high-level tax consulting work. We’re going to share with you different ways you can communicate that value, start getting more yeses more often. No matter what you charge for your services, you’ll have a little bit more confidence underneath your belt.
I want to share that this worked. Here’s a little case study for you. Case study, meaning that this worked for a client that we worked with. He still is a CPA. He was one of our students in our Eight-Week Sales Mastery Training Program, which Denise and I host online. One of our students, Scott, had a potential client that he thought he could probably save about $40,000 a month for them in the amount of taxes that they were overall paying. His client that he was doing this consulting engagement for couldn’t believe it. When he offered this to them, the client said no. You would think, and I’m sure that maybe you’re having the same exact thought, if you’re able to save someone $40,000 a month, why wouldn’t someone want to engage with you? Does that ever cross your mind?
A lot of the accounting professionals that Denise and I work with, we go, “What went wrong?” You’re like, “How come people don’t buy if it’s savings?” People don’t buy off a spreadsheet unless you’re talking to the Pitch Queen. That’s me. I buy off spreadsheets all day long. If you show me the numbers and why it makes sense, I can make a buying decision. However, 99.99999% of the other human beings out there don’t make buying decisions that way. He was trying to sell them a spreadsheet, “Here’s what I can do. Here’s how much you’re overpaying. Here’s what I can save. Here’s how much you charge.” It should be a no-brainer. Accountants and people like me were driven by data and it’s not how most people think because the 99.99999% of people, it isn’t about how they decide to buy off a spreadsheet. That brings us to our first tip.
People think it’s logical, but it’s not about logic unless you’re an analytical person. Even then, somebody who’s very analytical, it’s not going to connect with them to a point where they’re going to be like, “Sign me up.”
What do we need to do, Denise? How do you understand why people buy? What is the first tip?Get connected to your potential customers on an emotional level. Click To Tweet
You’ve got to get connected to what inspires them and what has them feel emotionally, a connection to what it is that you’re solving for them. People want to buy solutions. Solutions to what? Their problems. You’ve got to figure it out. Saving money isn’t a problem.
You would think it is though. For the accountants who are reading right now, they buy off spreadsheets. I buy off a spreadsheet. Why doesn’t it work? What’s the psychology behind why that doesn’t work and why we have to connect to their problems?
When somebody has a problem, we call it the problem behind the problem. Logically, it sounds like you’re overpaying taxes. That is a problem, but that’s not something I think about every day. How is that impacting? What is that overpaying keeping me from that is important to me?
That’s the problem behind the problem. That’s the first tip is getting to the problem behind the problem. Can you share an example with all the readers of what that could look like? We can make up a story. We can use Scott’s client and we’ll give you examples based on this one client so you can connect the dots. Also, you learn through stories. If you were able to find and uncover $40,000 in savings, that might be the problem. Denise, what would be a problem behind the problem with that example of $40,000?
Maybe the real problem is that they’ve been wanting to buy a piece of property and they didn’t have the cashflow to do it so that they can expand and grow their business. Maybe it’s $40,000 that would help build an orphanage in Africa that’s important to them. Maybe it’s the difference between their kid going to college or not. There’s so much more to it.
If it were the money to get their kid to go to college or the money to purchase the property to expand their business, that would have someone make a buying decision and tell you yes right then and there. That is the part of proving your value against the actual cost of your services. They will purchase based on what Denise shared. It’s about the college education, expanding the business and having more properties, whatever that means to the person. Denise, let’s go into tip number two. How do you figure that out when you’re talking to a client? Let’s use the Scott example. You’ve read their tax returns or their financials or their QuickBooks or whatever it is, and you uncover $40,000 a month that you could save this client. How do you get to the problem behind the problem? How do you do that?
You got to ask the right questions. You’ve got to be curious. You’ve got to be willing to ask like, “Tell me what are some of the challenges that you’ve had in your business that are a result of you overpaying your taxes?” That might be the high-level question. You need to get underneath that. First, you got to start with a high level and then they’re going to tell you if you ask the right open-ended questions. They’re going to start to tell you and unpack all that. “I’ve been so worried. I’ve been wanting to do this and I can’t see how I can do it because I got my next quarterly tax payment coming up and I can’t do anything.”
If they say they can’t do anything, then that to me sounds like an opportunity to even dig deeper. If they can’t do anything, then it’s about thinking, how can I go a little bit deeper? What happens if they can’t do anything? You’ve got another challenge of that it could get worse than it already is. What’s next, Denise?
That would lead to the next question. You want to keep going deeper and deeper so that you get to the pain, to the bone. They are getting present to that. It might be like, “Tell me some of the things that you haven’t been able to do because you’re worried about this quarterly tax payment.”
“I haven’t been able to invest in more real estate, to expand my business. I haven’t been able to save more funds for my kid’s college tuition. Those are a few of what I’m not able to do.”
“By not being able to do those things, how does that show up for you on a daily basis? You’ve got all these things you’re worrying about. What is that like for you?”
“It’s extremely stressful and I feel like I keep wasting a lot of money. We make a lot of money, but then it disappears on us.”
“When you feel like you’re making money, but it keeps disappearing on you, how are you able to make financial decisions when you don’t know where your money is disappearing to?”
“That’s where it gets a little tricky. Maybe you can help with that.”
“That’s what we’re here for, is to take a look at if I could help you with that.” If things keep going the way that they’re gone, Michelle, how much longer do you want him to keep going on like this?
We could only probably keep going at this rate for about another 3 to 6 months if I’m going to be honest.Stick to what you can help your client with instead of the how. Click To Tweet
That’s a big problem.
As you notice, we showed you how you can get to the problem behind the problem by understanding and getting to the depths of people’s pain points. The third tip to focus on which we can role play for you is focusing on the results. That’s the other main important thing. When you’re trying, showing and proving your value to someone where the cost of your service then will become irrelevant. Focus on the result. I want to make this clear because, Denise, we’ve seen this a lot in our classes. A lot of accounting professionals, you think you want to ask your clients what they need and it has nothing to do about what your clients need. Let me tell you, I am your ideal client and I don’t know what I need from an accountant.
I come to you for you to tell me what I need. It’s like going to a personal trainer. You go to the trainer and you start telling them what workout you need to get fit. Why did you hire the trainer if you already knew what workout you needed? Bonus tip. You never want to ask a client what do they need from you because they don’t know. What we’re showing you is the way to prove your value to a client and have it not be relevant to the cost of whatever you’re going to charge this client because they are not connected at all. Focusing on results, we will continue our role play for you because the price will become less important when Denise tells me how much it will be of an investment to save $40,000 per month in this grandiose business that I can only keep going for 3 to 6 months at this rate.
“Michelle, if we could find a way so that you didn’t have to have this worry of this 3 to 6 months you’re able to do some of these things you don’t think that you can do that’s been holding you back, if we could fix all that and we can get the IRS off your back, what would it be like for you? How would it be different? What are some of the things that you’d be able to do that you’re not able to do right now?”
“Right now, I’m not able to put away money for my kid’s college tuition. There’s an investment property that if we purchased it, I could expand this business and not be struggling like we’re at because they can only do this 3 to 6 more months. Maybe my husband would be a lot happier with me.”
“Do you know where you want to send your kid to school?”
“I’m a graduate of the University of Arizona. I’m a Wildcat, so University of Arizona.”
“If you could have the money set aside so then you could send your kid to the University of Arizona and they could be a Wildcat too, how would that make you feel?”
“It would be so cool. I would be able to go to the homecomings and do all the alumni stuff and my husband would be so happy. That would be like a dream come true.”
“The property that you were talking about, do you have an idea of exactly what the property is that would help you expand and grow your business? Do you know where it’s located?”
“It was in an industrial park. It was a 200,000-square foot building. It would allow us to have more space, expand our operation. It’s the perfect location. It’s the perfect building.”
“Can you picture your office there, what it would look like?”
“We would go to IKEA and deck it out. We’ve had this furniture here in this office. It’s old and grimy. A fresh look and some fresh furniture, and I don’t know about you, but I love walking down the aisles of IKEA. It’s fun. It’s like Disneyland for me.”
“If you got an extra $40,000 a month back in your budget, you’d be able to set aside money so that you could have another Wildcat and your family, get that 200,000 square foot building and go shopping in IKEA. That sounds like a game worth plan to me.”
We role-played how Denise did so wonderfully talking about the results that I was looking for. If you were reading intently, we were sticking to what I wanted. The building, the college tuition, my imaginary husband that I don’t have, being happy that I have my imaginary kid going to the University of Arizona to be a fellow Wildcat. She focused on the what and not how she was going to help me. Like in the example of Scott the CPA offering the services to his clients, it has nothing to do with your technical knowledge. I know I’ve been told by a lot of accounting professionals, “Michelle, why is that?” It’s about making sure that you’re confident you can get the work done, but it’s about what they want.
Denise repeated what I wanted. You’re also reiterating to them what you are wanting them to make sure that you heard them and what you heard was important. She did a very good job. Part of focusing on the results is painting a picture for them of what their situation would be like if you fixed the problem. That is what has clients tell you yes and see your value and not worry about what it’s going to cost them or the investment they’re going to make in you because they don’t buy off a spreadsheet. Another great way to share some of this, and Denise, we can role play this and make it up, but it’s about sharing a case study or a testimonial from a similar client that you worked with to get similar results. This is a very powerful thing.Value Of Your Services Click To Tweet
It has you go look and think about, and we cover this in-depth in our Eight-Week Sales Mastery Training, how to go back and think about the clients that you’ve worked with. It doesn’t matter also about what services do you offer them. It’s about the results that happened for them. Maybe it was saving $40,000 a month. Maybe it was great books. Maybe it was the IRS letters stopped coming in. Maybe it was that they had no more penalties. One of the CPAs we’ve worked with does a lot of international tax. Maybe it was that they were able to open up their business in the United States of America and do it right with zero penalties and with the least amount of tax paying dollars going to the government. Those are all different variations of stories that you can share. Denise, do you have a story you’d like to share to help inspire me to enroll with you in this $40,000 a month savings plan that you’re proposing?
“Michelle, you remind me so much of Mark. When I started working with Mark, he was buried. He was looking to expand and grow and couldn’t figure out a way to fix his cashflow so that he could do some of the things that we talked about like you want to do. After working with us, he purchased the building that he wanted to. Not only that, he’s now moved in and he has a beautiful office, he’s been able to go on a vacation for ten days with his family touring around the country, looking at universities that his senior in high school is wanting to go to. They had the best time. Michelle, why don’t we go ahead and take a look at how we can do this for you and let’s get you started?”
That was a great story. You can use your stories. Maybe there’s another fellow accounting professional that you’re friends with that you can share stories with, but people live through other people’s stories. The more that you can share how you’ve helped others puts us at ease. Let’s say you were going to offer me a tax plan because I don’t want to pay a lot in taxes. You could talk about how you helped online entrepreneurs, similar to me, save a ton of money on my taxes and they were like me. It puts them in a more comfort goal, a comfort level. Those are the three main things for you to have yourself prove your value to clients. The cost of whatever you’re going to charge your clients will go away naturally all by itself.
If you start following these tips to show your value, prove your value, however you want to say it, the objections and the questions will start to diminish over time. When clients maybe tell you they want to think about it or all that will become far and few between. Believing in your ability to get those results that they want is the most important thing to this whole puzzle. Your clients will definitely appreciate you a lot more. I can guarantee you that unless you’re an accountant reading this, most of you are not asking your clients these types of questions. If you implement what Denise and I are talking about, you’re going to be light years ahead of a lot of your other competitors and your clients will feel so much more appreciative and be so much happier. Denise, anything you’d like to add?
The other thing that we always say, and if you’ve been reading, you’ve known this before, ask good questions and then talk less. Listen more. It’s going to be magical for you. All of a sudden, clients will be opening up to you. You’re going to know exactly what’s important to them and they’re going to feel something different. They’re going to be like, “I like this person. I feel good. I want to work with them.”
We always talk about that and we can always keep talking about it. It’s the 80/20 rule. Listen 80% of the time, talk 20% of the time. Thank you all so much for joining us here. It was an honor to be here. We will see you again.
What a fun episode with Denise talking about the three main ways that you can share and show your value to clients, and what I hear in accounting speak, “Michelle, how do I prove that?” The three ways for you to prove that is tip number one, understand why people make purchasing decisions. People buy based on feelings and emotions and not what you think they need. When you ask the client, “What services are you looking for?” that is a horrible question to ask a potential prospect because we don’t know. We came to you for that answer. Understanding why people make purchasing decisions, that’s finding the problem behind the problem.
One of the ways to do that is finding the pain points. Denise and I did a role play for you so you can understand how and what kind of questions to ask to find the pain points. The third way we shared with you is focusing on the results that your clients are trying to get to. That’s when the price definitely becomes more irrelevant. Price is not one of the reasons people make a purchasing decision. It’s about the results. What are you going to help them do? How are they going to help get out of the pain? For me, I made up that my imaginary husband would be happier. I made up that I would have my kid go to U of A. She was able to ask questions to paint the picture of truly what it is that I wanted. That is very important. The last bonus tip was sharing testimonials or client stories with your future prospects about your happy clients.
One other thing, I am grateful if you could leave a written review on iTunes for the Abundant Accountant Podcast. It does help spread the word and share it with other accounting professionals that this could benefit. Lastly, if you are frustrated and stressed trying to get control over who you work with or you don’t believe you could get a yes to a higher fee client or engagement and you’re frustrated, then make sure to let me know by booking a call over at TheAbundantCall.com. If you’ve had your accounting business for more than two years, schedule your coaching session with myself or with Denise to talk about our Eight-Week Sales Mastery Training Program. To learn more, head on over to TheAbundantCall.com and we can help you fix some of these problems and connect the dots. I want to thank each of you so much for reading. It’s always an honor to be here with you and I will see you next time.
About Denise Mandeau
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!