How can a particular sales strategy transform your firm and your CPA practices if you’re not a salesperson or entrepreneur? Not all CPAs are entrepreneurs and not all “accountingrepreneurs” become successful in their field. An expert in working with many top business owners and investors with Proactive Tax, Dominique Molina fills in the basics on how you can implement sales strategies into your CPA firm. A speaker, teacher, bestselling author and mentor to a bunch of tax professionals, Dominique shares the critical ingredient that would remove the restriction in taking your account firm to the next level.
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I’m Just A CPA (Not A Salesperson Or Marketer): How Can A Sales Strategy Transform Your CPA Firm? with Dominique Molina
Our special guest is the President and Founder of the American Institute of Certified Tax Planners. She’s been on the show before. With over fifteen years of experience as a CPA, our special guest, Dominique Molina, has worked with many top business owners and investors using Proactive Tax Planning to help keep more of what they earn in their pockets. Molina has also been an accomplished keynote speaker, teacher, bestselling author and mentor to a bunch of tax professionals across the US. She has also written books to make many individuals and tax professionals aware of government tax breaks and loopholes that most tax professionals miss.
If you are an accounting professional and you’re used to chasing clients, maybe you’re worried about where that next client might come from or you’re sick and tired of not getting paid your knowledge or worth, it’s not your fault. I know that there’s no one teaching you in the accounting industry how to fix these problems and connect the dots. I have created a selling without ever selling the system, and I’m very excited that I’m offering a free coaching session so I can share it with you too. Let me help you get your ideal clients coming to you so you can start enrolling clients with confidence and getting paid your worth, so you can spend more time with your family and your kids and work a little bit less.
If you’ve had an accounting practice for more than two years, head on over to TheAbundantCall.com and schedule your free coaching session with myself and my team. I would like to extend an invitation to you to take a screenshot of this episode at the end on your phone and post it on your LinkedIn profile. Tag me, Michelle Weinstein, and Dominique Molina and share with us the most valuable lesson that you got from this episode that you are going to implement in your firm now. Let’s welcome our special guest, Dominique Molina.
Thank you for having me back, Michelle. It’s great to be here.
Thank you so much for being here with us on the show. It’s always an honor to have you and taking out your time out of your day to help and inspire so many other accountingpreneurs out there. Maybe even the accountants and CPA’s in a corporate position that might be saying, “I want to start my own business.” I am so excited to talk about the topic because you’re like, “I’m just a CPA. I’m not a salesperson or a marketer.” I love this topic because I love the topic of sales. I like to use a different word because a lot of people think it’s sleazy, pushy, manipulative and all those other fun words. That is what we’re talking about and I’d love to learn from you to share with everyone reading how can a certain sales strategy transform their firm and their CPA practices. They’re like you, they’re not salespeople and not marketers. Whoever thought that when you opened your business, you actually had to do the sales role too in order to help a client.
I have a confession to make because when you invited me to come on and chat about this topic of sales, I said yes, but I was tricking you a little bit because I don’t know if you’re going to like some of the ideas I have to share with the group.
It’s okay because they’ve known all of my sales stuff. We’re going to have our non-sales chat that you’re just a CPA, not a salesperson or marketer and that’s what we’re talking about because I hear it so many times, so it’s all good.
In my history, I actually had a rude awakening about this. I don’t like the sales and marketing piece. That’s not why I started my own business. I love the technical, the numbers and the problem-solving. There are problems to solve in sales, but that’s certainly not my forte. I think fortunately for a lot of us that got into this business for the same reasons, you don’t ever have to do a lot of sales if you don’t want to and that’s because of the nature of the industry. We’re working in an industry where there are 700 taxpayers for every tax professional out there. The demand outweighs the supply and because of that, I’ve had to do very little marketing at the beginning of my career.Just be real with yourself. Click To Tweet
People found me either because they were referred in, which I got a lot of clients that way or people passed by and saw my office, or they found my website online. People have a way of finding you. I didn’t have a problem staying busy. There’s always work to be done, but what I quickly realized over time in the first six years was, I don’t know that I’m getting the clients that I want. It wasn’t until that point that I realized I might have to do some sales and marketing here. It’s great that there are people that are finding me and I don’t have a problem getting business, but is it the right kind of business? That was a completely different way of looking at my business.
Having the right business is so important. Before we dive into all the nitty gritty details, what is your definition when you hear you have to do sales and marketing and you’re like, “I’m not a salesperson. I’m not a marketer. I want to do the technical and the numbers stuff because that’s what I love and that’s all I want to do.”
I think of sales and marketing as two pieces of the client acquisition process. The marketing being, “How do I get myself perfectly positioned in the right place at the right time to meet the right type of client for me?” Where am I going to show up? Whether that’s in cyberspace somewhere or where am I physically going to show up or where is somebody going to see my message that is at the right time when they’re looking or thinking about it so that they will say, “Yes.” That’s the marketing piece. The sales piece, I think about as being, once I have this lead or I have somebody that raised their hand and said, “I’m interested,” what do you then do? What’s the process to take them from someone who’s merely interested to, “Now, they’ve actually paid me. I’ve processed their credit card and they are a client of mine.” That’s how I think about it.
A lot of the other accounting professionals reading can probably resonate. With just being a CPA, how can someone implement some sales strategy if they don’t have anything in their firm to transform their practice?
The first part of it is to realize if you do need to go down this route because I know there are a lot of people that are full that have thriving practices. The first question you have to ask yourself is, “Is it thriving and full of the people that you want to be working with?” If it’s not, you have to think of what part of sales and marketing is it going to take for you to get to where you’re working with only people that are ideal for you. I know you’re not going to like this, but my first suggestion to the audience is if you don’t like sales and marketing, don’t do it at all.
Let’s talk about that because if they don’t do it, how are they going to do that? You’re in a corporate job. You want to start your own business, you want the freedom and flexibility. As an accountingprenuer, you signed up for a 24/7 sales career because you have to get payment in order to do the work. What has worked for you?
I’m not kidding about that. My first suggestion is to not do it because if you have a service that sells itself, then it cuts dramatically back on the sales efforts that are even required. I’ve got to tell you, I don’t like the sleaze. I don’t like the manipulation and I’m cautious because I don’t want to feel I’m trying to persuade anyone of anything. The beauty is that when you can offer a service that’s crystal clear how the person’s not going to win a little bit, but home run, win in a big way when they work with me paying premium fees. It’s a win for both of us. I want that to be so obvious to them that it’s them who are asking for it from me because that takes me out of the equation. I don’t have to be the salesperson there. I don’t have to be persuasive. I don’t have to be perfect in what language I’m using with them or what time or how we have a conversation. When I get them asking for it and demanding it, it eliminates the need for me to be good at sales.
I’m going to now talk about tax planning because it’s my favorite thing, but this is a product or service that does sell itself. When I can sit and point some things out to the taxpayer and show them how to keep $100,000 more in their bank account, even if that price tag is going to be $30,000, the win is obvious to them. I’m constantly asked, “How can I work with you? What do I need to do to become a client of yours? Will you pick me? How can I become a client?” I love that because there are no sleaze, there’s no manipulation and I sit back and say, “Here’s what the process looks like.” I don’t have to convince anyone of anything. If I’ve done my job right, it’s evident what they’re going to get when we work together and it’s something they want.
When something does sell itself and having thought out what you’re offering, making it a homerun is the key ingredient to that. I knew what you were going to say. For those of you reading, Dominique and I have known each other for several years. She does know what she’s talking about in that area. Let’s say they don’t have something that sells itself yet. Maybe that’s part of your homework assignment now is to go and figure that out or reach out to Dominique. What is another thing that worked for you to transform your firm as it was growing for the sales strategy part that worked? Another strategy that you said, “This one worked and I’m glad I did it.”
You’re going to love this answer because this is the ultimate lazy person’s answer and that is get lazy and get someone else to do it for you. If you can, have it be someone that thrives in that context. Somebody who is excited about doing that and you come to mind. We’ve worked together for a long time, but there are definitely people out there. It’s more within their personality style. I know that you thrive on this.
I do thrive and I’ve got a waiting list. I have a lot of accountants. I can teach you, but I can’t do it all for you. Let’s hear what you have.
What I was going to say is be real with yourself. We’ve known each other for a long time. I’m an introverted person by nature. I do go to networking events and things of that sort, but I do so more use my willpower than my desire to do that. If I, on the other hand, can get somebody to go for me, somebody that’s already doing this, for example. I’ve got some ideas I’ll share with you. Get somebody else who is good at that and who likes networking. Who likes talking and meeting different kinds of people and who loves the service that we’re offering because we do help people and we change lives. That’s fantastic because it’s a win for both of us so that I know it’s going to get done right.
One way is to find someone who thrives in it. I have clients calling me and asking me, “What do I charge?” They want to meet with me and they literally have to sit in front of clients. What is something that you can share that works for you from the CPA hat? I’ve got stuff I can help them with, which we’ve talked about. What’s a sales strategy that could transform that client meeting if they have to deal with someone now or tomorrow? They can’t “outsource the salesperson” or get real with yourself and not do it. You’ve gotten to that point where you don’t have to do it. What worked for you when you were starting out?
Number one is realizing that you do need some assistance in this area. Let’s not kid ourselves here. You have a successful firm and you’re profitable does not mean you’re necessarily where you want to be. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re skilled at getting clients. I had too many of the wrong clients when I focused 100% on tax planning. What I quickly found out was that what I said and did to get clients before I was transforming my practice didn’t work for people that were ideal for my firm. In other words, what I said and did to get clients at $800 per return didn’t necessarily work for the person that would spend $80,000 on a plan, for example.
If you are thinking, “I’ve got this because I’ve been in business for X number of years,” at the time, I had been in business when I started focusing on the ideal client and how to get the ideal client. I thought, “I never thought I would need any kind of coaching or training whatsoever because I’ve got this. I’m experienced. I know what I’m doing. I’ve got all these clients. I don’t need help or training in sales.” What I quickly realized was, “I actually don’t know what I’m doing in the client acquisition process.” It can help to have training and coaching. I recommend checking that out for yourself. Meet one-on-one with a sales coach, for example, or take a group class that’s going to give you some exposure to help you create sales systems in your business.
Number one, it’s so that you can try something from somebody who’s an expert at it. It’s going to help you avoid recreating the wheel there, but also to be able to measure whether something’s working or not. If I don’t follow a system and I “wing it” every time I sit down with a new client that comes in, I don’t have any sense for what worked and what doesn’t work. On the other hand, if I follow the same process every single time, I can change up one or two things at a time to see how it impacts my results. When I meet with somebody remotely on camera, for example, I get a lot more new clients than when I speak with them over the phone without the face-to-face. It’s tough to understand what it is that makes a difference if I’m just winging it or ad-libbing it every single time I meet with somebody.Make sure that the person that you're working with is familiar with your industry. Click To Tweet
I have no comment on that. I think sales coaching is definitely very important.
I knew you would like that one. If I could say one more thing about that too and that is, make sure that the person that you’re working with is familiar with our industry. We’ve got nuances that are unique to our business. We’ve got people that buy at certain times of the year and it’s easier sometimes a year than others to make sales. We’ve got people that buy a certain way and that are used to making buying decisions a certain way and not every sales coach out there is going to understand that. I’ll give you an example. I’ve worked with a lot of different trainers. I want that person to be a reflection of the values that I have in my firm because I’m relying on them to train me on how to represent my firm. If my values are not things like being pushy and being manipulative to get somebody to say yes, what do I think they’re going to teach me? They’re going to definitely be teaching me some tactics based on their vision and values. You want to look for alignment there and I’ve had great results.
Not someone like that teaches the people that sell at car dealerships.
You want to get a feel for that person’s values. What’s worked well for me is working with people where the number one priority to them was their client’s success. That’s worked out especially well for me because that’s the number one priority in my firm. It’s the results that we’re able to create for our clients and help our clients create. In working with a coach or a training program that also has similar values, it’s more likely to work because it fits within our natural wheelhouse and it’s something I’m much more likely to do. You want to look for somebody that has familiarity over our industry and somebody that also reflects similar values to your brand personality.
Those are all very important and that will help get you results because I believe that personally. What is one last thing that you would suggest for someone who is dealing with that dreaded question, “How much are you going to charge? I need to meet with you. I heard about you from Chris down the block?” Something else that someone reading can implement in the sales strategy of their firms and transform it that would be impactful.
I wish there was a silver bullet strategy that if you do this, everything will work out. If I had to come down to one key element there, I think it goes back to what we were talking about at the start of this conversation. That is knowing the difference, what is sales and what is marketing to your firm? On the sales side, it’s a process by which we take somebody from being interested in our service all the way to the point where they are a client provided that’s right for them and that they’re right for our firm. It’s identifying what that process is and plotting that out.
Somebody’s calling in and you have someone else answering phones, for example. Do they know what the process is or are they winging it and are you counting on them to wing it? “I don’t want to do sales. Hopefully, the receptionist has got it over there.” It’s recognizing all those little touch points, whether it’s a client referral or an email expressing an interest or a phone call that may come in or somebody dropping by. We want to have a plan for what you do in those moments. If it’s not you who’s handling those interactions, have your staff trained on what that next step is.
Not winging it is the big takeaway and plotting out a sales process. Even if you plot out something, it’s going to be better than winging it 100% if that’s what’s happening. You’re just a CPA, not a salesperson or a marketer. Thank you so much, Dominique, for being here with us. Do you have any last words of wisdom or advice as it relates to being the CPA and absolutely not enjoying the sales process because you’re not a salesperson or marketer?
I think the way that we perceive ourselves in that situation, I don’t have to be a salesperson to do well, and thank goodness I’m a way better tax planner than I am a salesperson because I can do a lot of good for my clients. When I follow a plan and I know what my next steps are, it takes away some of that anxiety for me. When those questions like, “How much do you charge?” come in, I don’t have this sheer terror that comes over and paralyzes me. I’m able to handle those conversations with confidence. If nothing else, that makes things a lot more pleasant for me.
Coming up with some process and following a plan, it will help you in many ways. Thank you so much, Dominique, for being here with us on the show. It’s always an honor to have you.
Thank you for allowing me to be here. It’s been a lot of fun, Michelle.
It’s always fun talking about sales. There is more on the next show. Dominique will be back in the future. Thanks for being here.
About Dominique Molina
Dominique Molina has long been passionate about helping small businesses pay less tax. Unlike other CPAs, her practice, beyond annual tax return preparation, also emphasizes proactive tax planning strategies to help small businesses leverage the tax laws in the same way that large corporations and the wealthy do. Unsatisfied with bringing her tax-savings approach only to clients her own practice could reach, she created a company that trains and certifies CPAs to develop special expertise in tax planning in accordance with her own high standards for advisory excellence and tax reduction goals. The result is a growing network of CPAs who are successfully reaching some 90,000 small businesses throughout the country.
Molina’s mission to save clients from overpaying their taxes led in 2009 to her founding The American Institute of Certified Tax Planners (AICTP), a company she presides over as CEO. Certified Tax Planners are a leading group of tax professionals who are specially trained in the art of long term, proactive tax planning. AICTP trains and certifies CPAs to develop special expertise in tax planning, and it provides ongoing education, information, and other resources for accountants, advisors, and small business owners. Molina and the company provide a valuable service to the small business community, because AICTP member CPAs, as proactive tax planners, are advising their business owner clients throughout the year on strategies to minimize their annual tax liability by putting tax laws to work for them. By capitalizing on the wealth of tax-saving resources in the U.S. tax code, she and they are helping small businesses pay less tax in April, and retain more revenues for growth.
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