Charging for your accounting services without apologizing is one vital thing you should be implementing when you are working honestly and ethically. Unfortunately, we see too many accounting professionals who are overworked and underpaid. Stop undercharging for your accounting services once and for all as Michelle Weinstein shares some smart pricing strategy examples and her five-step process to start collecting higher fees with confidence and getting paid your worth.
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How To Stop Undercharging For Your Accounting Services
We are talking about how to stop undercharging for your accounting services once and for all. I see way too many accounting professionals who are overworked and underpaid. You keep discounting your services and you’re under-appreciated by your clients. I have a simple five-step process for you so you can start collecting higher fees with confidence, get paid what you’re worth and never undercharge for your services again. Go to 5StepsToAbundance.com if you want to start working with more clients who pay you and who appreciate you, where you never have to discount your service again. It’s a free simple five-step process.
Before we jump into this episode, I wanted to thank our reviewer of the week. It’s Cody 2742. He says, “This was very informative. A must read for anyone in the CPA profession.” I’m glad that this is informative because I come here delivering what I know, the best that I know in order for you to grow your firms and start working with the clients that you love. There are many accountants that I’ve talked to that are working over 50, 60, 70 or 90 hours in a week. I want to get to know more of you and I’m eager to discover and learn more about each of you who follow us every single week. I want to take a moment to extend an invitation to you to subscribe and leave a written review so I can keep on delivering the content that you want and love. Hit the subscribe button. Leave a written review because I read all of them and I will highlight it here on the future episodes of the show.
It is such an honor to be here with each of you. In this episode, we are talking about how to stop undercharging for your accounting services with some value-based pricing ideas. Have you ever wondered if the prices you’re charging your clients are good? Are they fair? You’re always wondering like, “What should I be charging? I don’t know what my clients are willing to pay. I wonder if I charge this, would they even pay it.” It’s a great question because a lot of times, accountants and CPAs, especially you don’t always maybe have enough training. Maybe you’re not an expert in a certain area that a client is asking you to work for. You haven’t learned how to incorporate these pricing strategies into your business models. This leads a lot of accountants and CPA’s discounting or undercharging for the services that you provide unknowingly because the value pricing is too low and you’re not sure what to charge.
In this episode, I will provide you with some smart pricing strategy examples so you can decide on the pricing model and template that works best for you. Ultimately, what do we do? We make more money and you help clients that you truly want to help. That is my takeaway for you. We are talking about the value pricing and different pricing strategies that work for you. I have a great quote that I came up with and it’s, “Know what you’re worth and then charge it without any apology or hesitation.” I want to stress the apology or hesitation because I worked with many accountants that apologize in advance for something that you’ve done or maybe haven’t even done.
Believe In Yourself And Know Your Value
Knowing what you’re worth deep down inside your core is what we’ll have you say your investment to a client without ever having to apologize and without ever having any hesitation whatsoever. That’s what we’re talking about on the show. What is the first thing to being able to charge without apologizing and without feeling bad about it? Let me share it with you. It’s believing in yourself and knowing what your value is. Maybe it’s based on, do you have a master’s in tax? Maybe you’re a tax attorney. Maybe you’re a high-level bookkeeper and you only take on the top twenty clients at a time that you can bring on. Know that your client has some struggle they’re dealing with. They have a pain and you have a solution to help them and you are the best person to work with.
I’ll give you an example about myself. I’m Michelle. I’m the Pitch Queen. I am the host of the Abundant Accountant Podcast. I believe in myself so much that if you need help with your sales conversations or you need help increasing your sales from the leads that you have coming in. You have all these clients that tell you they want to think about it or whatever it may be as it relates to a conversion in a sale, that I am the best person to help you. I know your industry in and out. I know and think like an accountant. I’ve had many hundreds of conversations with accountants that I know everything you go through as if I’ve lived it and breeds it myself.
Are there a lot of other people that could train you in sales and follow up and elevator pitches? Of course, there’s a lot of people. I know deep down inside me to my bones that I know that you need me and that I’m the best. Do you know that? That’s where the value can perpetrate into the other people that you’re talking to and your future prospects. I like to keep track of all of my positive wins. I do that by getting client reviews and client testimonials from my happy clients. I do that by sharing emails. I got one from Mary Michelle, “I’ve got a new client for $3,000 a month. I am so excited. Thank you for everything that you’ve taught me.” I get wins. I also have a little Facebook group for everyone that’s been through my class and everyone posts their wins in there too. Those wins are all positive words of reinforcement for me to keep delivering and giving you the best value and not only that, having me believe in it.
Having your clients do the same for you would translate into more business for you as well. What are your strengths? What are you good at? For those of you that have worked with me or maybe considering working with me, my strengths are that I will hold you accountable. I will support you in your dreams and make sure that they come true in your business. I will make sure that you have confidence. If you don’t have it in your sales conversations, I will spark something that’s been dormant in you for a very long time so you have the best success in your accounting firm. There are a lot of strengths, but those are some. How many people have I helped? Maybe think about how many people have you helped with your firm?Believe in yourself and know what your value is. Click To Tweet
I don’t help a ton of people, but I do help accountants who have been in business for a couple of years. You’ve had clients tell you they want to think about it, “You’re too expensive. I thought that service was already included in this other service. Why are you charging me more?” It’s getting confident about anything that you’re told from any client. I’ve helped over 25 people almost in my one-on-one class in the last few months. Think about how many people have you helped? What are your strengths? How are you delivering that and how are you tracking it to get the results from your clients? Are you doing video interviews with them? Are you getting written testimonials? What are you doing to get to those clients?
Another thing that I personally do is you can use affirmations and mantras to boost your confidence and also help believe in yourself. One of the things that I do is I say I’m gracefully resilient, inspiring myself and others to take action for what you want right now. There is no guarantee of tomorrow. For those of you that have had someone passed away close to you, you never know when that day will come. Why wait? When people want to make a decision, I help empower them and inspire them to make decisions now. There’s no point in waiting for very long and don’t ever doubt your expertise. I see this as the big one with a lot of accountants and a lot of CPA’s, a lot of enrolled agents, tax attorneys.
If there is an area where you doubt your confidence in a certain expertise, refer it out or go become an expert on it. I’m going to give you an example of a dentist because I have been to the dentist a lot. One of the examples I want to share is that if you want to become let’s say an expert in tax planning, go get an education through certified tax coach to become an expert in tax planning. If you were a dentist and you wanted to only do root canals, which is a high-level service in dentistry or maybe an oral surgeon would be a better example, you’re going to go through extra schooling. You’re going to go get a different designation that sets you apart from all of the other dentists out there. It’s not any different in the dental industry as it is for you in the tax industry.
I’ve worked with a lot of people who are a high level of profit first. If that’s the area you want to focus on, become an expert with Mike and Ron. Know it inside and out so you can never doubt your expertise but know you are the expert to the bone. All through the layers of your skin, you know deep down inside that no one can do it better than you. At that point, you’re literally qualified to charge any price that you want where it makes sense. When you have that confidence that is where believing in yourself comes into play. That is step number one. It’s learning how to stop undercharging for any of the services in your firm.
Build Rapport And Trust
Let’s talk about step number two. This one is crucial. This one you cannot miss. This goes for anything you do in life and that is creating rapport and trust with the clients you end up loving and serving on. What is building rapport and trust? We’ve talked about it here in the past, but I’m going to give you an example. I was on the phone with a new client and he loves to travel to Hawaii with his wife. He was talking about how he’s from New York. My whole family is from New York, so we talked about New York. I also love Hawaii. My best friend from high school lives on the Island of Maui. I go there 2 to 3 times a year. It’s important that you connect on a personal level with your prospects and your clients. It’s imperative and if you want to grow your top line revenue, grow your clients, be able to charge any price without ever undercharging what your value or worth is. The rapport and the trust that you established with a client in the first 5 to 10 minutes is crucial.
With this client, we’ll call him George. He was telling me about how his wife and he goes to Hawaii twice a year. He’s from New York and now he’s started to love Waikiki beach. He says, “It’s almost like a mini Manhattan on an Island.” I can appreciate that. I was in Waikiki a few months ago and we were talking about the hotel I stayed there. I said, “Have you ever stayed at the Cruise Liner Hotel? It’s a Western resort. They have these rocking chairs out front. You sit and rock, sip your coffee and eat gelato all day. It’s great.” He’s like, “I love it. That’s why I love going to Hawaii twice a year. It’s almost like New York on an Island.”
I talked about that for a good ten minutes. My point to you is to build rapport and trust. Find some common ground, find a story and find something interesting about them that has nothing to do with their business. It has nothing to do with what they’re trying to accomplish with their business. It’s more about what’s in it for their life and their personal life, “Why do you like going to Hawaii? Why do you like escaping to the Manhattan of the beach?” Get to know them more on a personal level than on a client. Always listen all the time.
It’s good when a client says, and this is a little secret, “Are you still there?” When you put the pause button down and they’re wondering where you disappeared too. It is amazing when they say that and you’re like, “I was listening. I was jotting down a few notes. I didn’t know if you were finished talking yet.” People love to talk, so let them talk. I believe and what I’ve learned in the whole sales experience, I went to Nordstrom. How many of you like to have a firm like Nordstrom where it’s high-level service? You charge whatever you want and people will pay you premium fees all day long. That’s what I think Nordstrom is. If you don’t have a Nordstrom, make sure to check it out when you’re on the West Coast in the United States.You can charge any price if you have top-line revenues. Click To Tweet
At Nordstrom, the whole experience, this woman was like, “How can I help you?” They say, “I’m just looking.” She keeps rambling and talking. How you can build rapport and trust in that element is maybe comment on the outfit they’re wearing. If you’re meeting clients in person, that’s another great tool that you can use. You can say, “I love your purse. I love your bag. It’s a great jacket. Where did you get a blazer like that?” It has to be authentic and truthful but there’s always something to find. On my desk, I have this orchid and people who end up coming here in person say, “Michelle, I love the orchids. Do you love plants?” “Yeah, I love plants.” My mom is a big person in plants. I always have plants either at my house or in my office.
It’s finding common ground, building trust, building rapport and being transparent about how much it will be worth their while when you all work together. What you’re able to accomplish and share based on the personal information that they’ve provided is very important. With one of my clients, I was sharing with him, if he makes these changes in his business, he might be able to add another trip to Hawaii. Maybe go to a different island once a year and start exploring something new because his goal is only to work twice a week. What would life be like if you could work two days a week? That’s his goal and that’s what he’s setting himself up for. You can do it too. Always speak to your clients in terms of the results you will be able to get to them as it relates to their personal wants, goals and dreams.
It can be all about business all day long, but people don’t buy based off always business. If I were your client, my nickname is spreadsheet and if you sold me a number on a spreadsheet as to why you’re so great and all that, I will probably buy because I will buy off a spreadsheet. 99.9% of your clients will never buy off a spreadsheet. How many times had maybe you offered a client and you could save them $100,000, then maybe you want to charge them $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 and they said, “No, I want to think about it?” To me, that’s a no-brainer, but some people won’t. This part about building rapport and trust is the cornerstone to getting exactly what you want to charge and having you never undercharge for your services because of having pricing strategies in place and having a structure. This is the structure, by the way.
Calculate Your Rates Carefully
Step number three is calculating your rates carefully. This is very important in making sure you can stop undercharging for the services. Let’s say you give a flat fee on a project. We’ve talked about this on a previous episode with Dominique Molina from Certified Tax Coach. Let’s say you’re going to do a flat fee on a project. Make sure you know how many hours you’re going to spend on it. I don’t believe in calculating hours per se, but having a good idea of what something’s going to take you is very important. You can’t just wing it. With this client I was on the phone with, one of the things we were talking about was having ad hoc ways of doing things and winging it. Those are the two things you want to stay far away from. If you’re ad hoc piecing it together as you go and you keep winging it over and over again and you’re wondering, why you’re not getting the right results? It might be something to look into.
It doesn’t matter if $10,000 sounds like a lot, but if you’re going to spend 200 hours on a project, that’s only $50 an hour. Are you worth more than $50 an hour? It’s thinking about how long a project is going to take and what you want to charge the client. What is that price that will have you happy, that will have you going above and beyond for your clients doing everything and anything they ever ask for? Keep in mind too, keeping time if you have to respond to emails, if you have to respond to phone calls. If you have to do any research that requires a ton of time, it’s something important to keep that in mind.
Communicate Your Value
Step number four is how do you deliver and communicate your value? That’s a big one. Explaining exactly how you can help them and the benefits that they’re going to receive after all of the other steps are taken care of. Having testimonials and case studies of other clients that you’ve helped and serve that had been maybe in a similar boat. With my client now, I have worked with other people that wanted to get down to work week of three days a week. We’ll call him Jonathan and he works 4 to 5 hours a day. He doesn’t work more than four days a week. He’s doubled or tripled his revenue. He’s created all of this success for himself. What do I do? I document it and I share it with others. I have a client review page.
For each of you, I would create a client review page of the happy clients who I’ve done accounting services for. Your happy clients you’ve done profit first services for. Your happy clients you’ve done tax planning, your happy clients that you’ve done tax resolution for and you got them out of their mess. Your happy clients that you’ve done pumpkin planning for. Your happy clients that you’re the best bookkeeper that they’ve ever seen and had. You’re the best enrolled agent they’ve ever had. Whatever it is, have a client review page that you can share with your future prospects. What you want to do is when you’re talking to your clients about communicating your value, they’ve seen that in advance. What you do is you connect how your service will help them get to their goals and dreams.
With Jonathan, it’s if you want to create that life of four days a week, of working only 4 or 5 hours per day, here are the steps that you need to do in order to get to that result. With my other person, “I want to go to Hawaii. I want to work two days a week and I don’t want to do anything else. I want to spend more time with my wife. I’ve got five more years until I sell my business and that’s what I want to create.” By working with me, are you able to achieve that? Setting up and connecting the dots is very important. You want to connect your service or services to their goals, to their challenges or to whatever they want to create.Discounting your services not only decreases your value, it doesn't help your clients at the end of the day either. Click To Tweet
One other little tidbit and I like to call this the bonus of the bonus is think about what will happen to this client if they don’t work with you. What happens if you discount this price so much that they don’t see the value in you and they walk the other way? What happens if you undercharge for this service so much that they turn the other way and leave because they don’t understand why you’re so cheap? Have you ever had that happen? Think about how this will change the game for your business and firm.
Know Your Boundaries And Stick To Them
Step number five and the last step is knowing your boundaries and sticking to them. If someone won’t agree with your fees, are you going to beg them to work with you? Are you going to start discounting everything until they say yes? Are you going to start negotiating prices? How many of you are culprits of negotiating prices just to get a client to work with you? The second you start doing that, this is how you’ll never be able to stop undercharging for your accounting services and whatever it is that you do. Remember, if someone won’t agree with your fees, it’s not about you. Let them go. It’s not a good fit. You don’t want to work with them anyway. I can’t tell you how many of the accounting professionals I personally worked with say, “Michelle, every single one that complained about fees are the ones that I still want to get rid of.”
Save yourself a headache and stick to your boundaries and stick firmly to your guns once you come up with what price do you want to charge your clients. It’s very important. This is what I call the area of your pricing strategies. Your pricing strategy should be committing to yourself and the boundaries that you set. Walking away from business is more powerful than saying, “I’ll do it for $2,000 like the other CPA down the street,” or whatever they tell you. This is when someone will see the value in yourself. The value in yourself is what allows people to pay even more. It’s true. How many of you have experienced that? Think really quick when you’ve walked away because someone tried to negotiate your prices or nickel and dime. I walk away. It’s not worth your time. Discounting your services not only decreases your value, but it doesn’t help your clients at the end of the day either. It’s hard to say but when I was raising money, there was a lot of negotiating when raising funds for a company.
When you’re selling a service like this and you stay true to your services at Nordstrom, do they have a bunch of sales and discounts? No, they have a half yearly sale and a sale around the holidays. That’s about it. Maybe in your firm you could do that too. Maybe in December you give incentives for doing tax planning because it’s a great month to increase revenue and do a lot of year-end tax planning. Maybe there are some ideas that you can do half yearly to attract a new type of client that you’ve been looking forward to working with, but they haven’t engaged in you. It can be a fun incentive but you’re not saying, “I’m $15,000 to do this engagement.” The client comes back and says, “Do it for $12,500.” This is not a negotiation practice. That’s what I mean by knowing your boundaries and sticking to them.
Keep the abundant accountant mindset, the mindset where we’re at and not like, “I need this client.” Know that there are countless ideal clients out there for you. If you partner and refer to people who are following the show, there’s plenty of business for each of you, I promise. Know when to walk away and create the space for a better fitting client. When you walk away from a client, it opens the door for more opportunities to work with the right clients. That is what I have for you and I would love it if you could leave a written review, a comment review about what’s the one thing you’re going to implement. What pricing strategy are you going to do? What value pricing maybe can you stick on a few different services and try it out and stick to it? Thank you all so much for joining me on this amazing episode. If you have a quick second, I would be grateful if you left a written review and a rating for this show on iTunes. I always like hearing from you and I will share your review on the future episodes on the show. If you want to get that free guide, you can do that at 5StepsToAbundance.com. Thank you all so much and I will see you in the next episode.
- Dominique Molina – previous episode
- Certified Tax Coach
- iTunes – The Abundant Accountant Podcast
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