The Abundant Accountant Podcast

How to Stop Giving Away Free Advice and Still Provide Value
Have you ever noticed that when you give away free advice, the prospect rarely (if ever) takes action on the advice you gave?

It’s a pretty common occurrence, one that many of my accountant clients have experienced.

In fact, when someone pays for your services they are much more likely to take the advice, put it into action and then benefit from that action.

That’s the key here: Stop giving away everything for free! 😉

There is a better way to serve your prospects, prove your worth and land the new client without sharing everything you know.

Before we go into how to serve those prospects, let’s first discuss why someone might be giving away too much information to begin with.

Why Accountants Give Too Much Information Away

I know many accountants want to help their prospects, and obviously turn that prospect into a paying client.

Giving away free content can feel like an investment in your business, not to mention that it can position you as an expert in your industry. And who doesn’t want to be positioned as the expert in your industry? But giving away free advice and information won’t get you that new client!

Let me give you an example. I’ve worked with many different accountants and all of them have experienced a prospect turning down their proposal to work because of a less expensive option “down the street.”

Obviously that’s not fun, but losing clients to price isn’t the end of the world. There absolutely will be others who want to work with YOU and will happily pay your prices, but a way to put yourself into an even better position is to choose a specific niche or industry that you love. Then, focus on that ONLY.

Those people who are out there looking for someone who is amazing at bookkeeping, isn’t going to go to someone down the street who is an expert at tax law. It’s just not going to happen!

Choose your niche wisely, and then become laser focused on it.

You Want People to Like You

Another common reason accountants provide too much free information is that they want people to like them. You want people to see you as smart and knowledgeable.

I’m sure you hear it all the time at networking events or other events. People find out you’re in accounting and they start asking you about how they should claim this, or how to use something as a deductible. Pretty soon you’ve gone through almost every scenario, and you realize you know nothing of this person’s business.

Sure, you’re giving value away, but it might not actually be valuable to that person.

Without knowing a prospects situation, answering those quick questions could actually be detrimental to their business if what you’re telling them may not apply 100%. We actually do our prospects a disservice by giving information away when we don’t know the whole picture.

You’re providing them a bandaid, rather than a true fix.

For example, I was working with a client named Kate. Kate loved giving away a lot of free advice, and she even found that many of her prospects were asking her the exact same questions over and over again.

She would literally give them a list of things to do, but would never charge them. She’d just provide them the information and they’d walk out the door.

These prospects were so thrilled that Kate had provided them with the information they needed, but you can imagine what happened next.

The year would pass. It would be time to do their taxes again, and the client would show up at Kate’s office having done NOTHING that she recommended.

This ties back into my very first point. Sure, Kate’s clients were pleased with the free advice, but because they hadn’t invested in Kate, they never felt tied to the work Kate suggested so they never did any of it.

Now, if Kate had charged her clients for the advice she’d provided these same individuals would have been more likely to follow through and DO THE WORK.

This would help her clients actually save more money if they had done the work, and would also help Kate because she’d be getting paid, which is ultimately our end goal!

How to Really Show Results

You might be wondering…if I can’t give information away for free because it devalues me and my services, then what? And, if I can’t give information away because people are less likely to actually do the work, how CAN I show my value?

Great questions!

One of THE BEST ways to show your value is to speak to your clients in terms of the results that you can help them get. Share with them how you can get them those results they crave.

And remember, you want to ask those really good, leading questions so that you can get to the root cause of the problem.

If you’ve been asking those leading questions and have gotten to the root of someone’s business and what their problems are, the next best thing you can do is to provide a free piece of content or another resource that shows you have the prospect’s best interest at heart. It also shows that you know your stuff but without giving away any free advice.

My client Lauren is another great example of this. She was asked questions frequently from prospects and she’d always answer their questions because she knows the best way to build a business is through relationships and rapport.

A really effective way to build relationships and rapport is by helping people with their questions, but people weren’t acting on her advice. This can be frustrating!!

What we taught Lauren to do is to start asking MORE questions (even more than before). When someone would ask her a question, we would advise her to answer their question with a question of her own.

Not only was she gaining more information about the prospect’s business, but she was also determining if these were even people that were qualified to be her clients and if they were somebody that SHE even wanted to work with.

Can you imagine taking charge and being able to decide who you will and won’t work with? Trust me, it’s possible!

Stop Devaluing Yourself and Your Services

You now know that people are less likely to take action on your advice when you give information away for free, so they’re not going to see the results they crave.

Unfortunately, there are times when you’ve given away free information and a prospect doesn’t see the results that they want, so they’ll blame your advice.

Even though THEY didn’t take action, the blame will fall back to you simply because it was you who gave the advice.

It’s a lose, lose situation!

Additionally, people aren’t going to hire you for your services if they think you’re just going to give them everything they’ve ever needed FOR FREE.

Remember, it’s okay to give away general information or what I call content! Things like pointing out some of the problems that others in their industry are facing or explaining a new law that came out that could impact their business are great ways to SHOW your value without giving away the kitchen sink.

This is called “Awareness Content.”

It’s a great way to provide your prospects and even your paying clients information that they might find valuable or interesting without giving away your expertise and advice for free.

The whole purpose is to show them that you are someone who cares, and that you are going to protect them. The goal is to become their trusted advisor, so that they go to you with all of their concerns and end up enrolling with you as a new client.

The Time Suck

At the end of the day, you want your clients to pay you for your TIME and your expertise. You need to stop the time suck of the quick end-of-day email or the “on the spot” phone call. All of those things eat up your time and are likely things you aren’t charging for.

I recommend that you take time to start tallying up how much all of those quick responses you are providing to your clients are taking. Then, determine how much value you think those little added services actually brought your clients, AND to your top line revenue.

I’m going to guess that it’s not going to add up or make any sense to keep providing these one off calls or emails.

Plain and simple, you MUST stop wasting time! You cannot get time back. It is our most valuable resource.

We had a student named Marc who we actually encouraged to do this exercise. Marc had three employees, plus himself, working on ONE client.

The work included a lot of back and forth emails and phone calls, but the time that they were billing the client for did not include any of these calls or emails.

Marc discovered that not only did the team miss all of the time they were actually spending answering calls, but Marc wasn’t billing for his time either.

In the end, it made the most business sense for Marc to separate with the client because it was actually costing Marc money on the monthly services he was providing. Marc stayed on only as a highly paid consulting CPA doing the high value work.

Are you finding yourself in Marc’s situation? Are you spending so much time on client work, that you’re not even billing them for it? If so, I encourage you to take the time to do this time tracking exercise!

Giving Away Free Advice Can Bring the Wrong Clients

We all want to work with our dream clients. Many of us have an avatar we’ve created so we know what we’re looking for in an ideal client, but yet we still go ahead and give away free advice and information to anyone who asks.

Giving free advice away not only takes time away from those dream clients, but it also can attract those who ONLY want your free services.

Those individuals who only connect with you to get your “free stuff” may not fit that client avatar you’ve so carefully constructed.

Remember, focus on providing things of interest and that “awareness content” I mentioned to your prospects, not giving them free advice and information!

In Conclusion

Focus on the results and the services you can provide to a prospect, rather than giving them free advice. You want to get paid for what you do! Ask yourself, would you rather run a business or a non-profit?

We want you to attract your ideal clients without giving away too much advice and information. Work on building up relationships and rapport by proving your value through results you’ve gotten for other clients and providing “Awareness Content.”

By doing those things, you’re sure to entice the right clients who are willing to pay you what you truly deserve.

Do you want to learn the 3 proven strategies my clients use to easily build their accounting practice with premium clients who are eagerly willing to pay what they’re worth? Sign up for my free Abundant Accountant’s Masterclass!

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