A lot of accounting professionals, accountants, tax professionals and CPAs find the sales process completely terrifying. But it doesn’t have to be! In fact, it can make you more confident, and having strong sales conversations will completely change your business!
But did you know that every conversation with your client or prospect would be considered sales conversations?
Someone once asked me, “Michelle, when is the sales pitch?”
My response was, “Are we talking? This is the sales conversation!”
After 20+ years of selling experience, from selling real estate to paleo meatballs to tax plans, I’ve learned some tips and tricks for having a confident sales communication – and I’m ready to share all the nitty gritty, juicy details with you!
Why Are You Having Sales Conversations?
One of the first keys to a good sales conversation is to know WHY you are having this conversation with your client.
If you’re just having a conversation to do it, you’re not going to have results.
However, when you change your mindset and come from a place of finding the absolute best way to serve your client, the reason WHY will come to you! You’ll be able to sit down and hear them as they share their needs and goals with you.
Without know WHY you’re having the conversation, you’re in a bad place to serve your client. You are not bringing your best to the conversation, and your client knows that and can sense that your heart isn’t in it.
If you know that you’re the best at what you do, then bring that to your sales conversations. That sales conversation is to help your client get the absolute best service! If you know that you’re the best, then it would be a disservice for that client to go to anyone else for help.
In fact, if you don’t bring your best, then they will go to someone else, and probably be worse off in the end. So why do you do what you do? What solution can you provide? How do you serve your clients? Focus on the WHY and you’re already on your way to better results!
Listen to the Conversation
When it comes to sales conversations, the times when I heard NO were when I talked too much.
Have you heard of the book, The 80/20 Principle? The theory is that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients.
I like to use my own 80/20 rule in sales conversations: 80% of my time should be spent listening, and only 20% of the time should be spent talking.
In fact, I keep water, my green juice, or coffee close by! My motto is “If I’m gulping, then I’m not talking!”
I won’t even have a meeting without my gallon jug of water on my desk. Before talking, I take a big gulp. That forces me to keep pausing and listening.
Another tool? The mute button on my phone! In fact, I used that button just last week, because I could not stop talking! That forced me to listen to my client.
Listening is one of the most powerful tools for your sales discussions.
Set Yourself Up for the Sales Conversation
I spend a lot of time preparing for my sales conversations, and have found that it makes a huge difference!
Choose the Best Time
The best way to approach a sales conversation is in what I call your “natural state.” You’re not stressed, or impacted by other stuff going on. You’re at your best, and able to focus on your client.
Take time to destress and “reset” before any sales conversations. This puts you in that natural state, and you’ll be ready to serve!
Are you in the middle of major deadlines? We all know that between March 15th, and April 15th accounting professionals are VERY busy, so don’t schedule sales conversations during those times, or even around October 15th.
If something happens and you’re in a bad mood or stressed, I’d suggest changing your appointment with any client you have a meeting scheduled with. You won’t be bringing your best to the sales conversation, and in the end, you need to be your best to serve your clients.
Set an Agenda for Your Meeting
Have you ever attended a timeshare presentation?
They show you all of these amazing photos of beaches, and houses, and talk about all these wonderful things. The whole time, though, you’re wondering. ”When is the pitch?”
You can’t relax and listen because you’re always on guard!
Now, let’s turn that around. That is how your client feels when talking to YOU. They’re waiting for the pitch! Instead of listening to you and hearing what you have to offer them, they are waiting for that moment when your conversation turns into a sale. They can’t relax and listen!
Setting an agenda at the beginning of any sales conversation allows them to understand what to expect. You could say “I want to ask a few questions, then go over your tax documents you submitted, and I’ll share what I reviewed. Then, if we’re a good fit, I’ll share what working with me could look like.”
When you say that, your client knows exactly when you’re going to be able to give the pitch. They’ll be able to focus on all the rest of the conversation without being on guard the whole time.
Take Notes About Your Client
When working on these big accounts, clients are here for the long term. They want to have that long-term working relationship with you and build that trust.
So when you sit down and meet with them, take notes!
It may feel intimidating to take notes, but just tell your client that you’re going to be taking notes so that you can capture what’s important to them and what their goals are.
They will tell you everything that you need to know about them; their goals, what’s important to them, and what’s really their main problem. This information will be invaluable to you as you continue the relationship.
You can frame high-level concepts around smaller goals, and show how your actions help achieve those goals and plans.
Put Yourself in Your Client’s Shoes
Have you ever sat at a picnic table with a friend? You sit opposite each other.
It’s the same way with our desks. We sit on the opposite side.
Imagine yourself sitting next to your client, and imagine what they are going through.
Sometimes, what we have to say is shocking. They may have never heard what we have to say, and may be taken aback.
Who knows – they may be in literal shock! It’s always amazing how many of them have never heard these legal, IRS approved methods of saving money, sometimes even as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Take the time to let them know that you understand how they feel, and that you’re there to provide a solution to their problem – but make sure it’s genuine. They’ll know if it isn’t, and you don’t want to break any trust or rapport that you’ve built.
Ready to hear the results of a good sales conversation?
One of my students, Christine, started using these tips and tricks to help her serve her clients more effectively in the sales conversation. She was able to set up a second meeting with a potential client, and called me afterwards.
“Michelle,” she said. “I have a check for a thousand dollars, and they’ve opted for all of these services!” She listed all these services that she offered. Her simple implementation of these strategies completely changed her sales conversation, and brought in a long-term client that she wanted to work with!
These practices may seem simple, but they work!
Which of these practices surprised you? Which ones are you going to incorporate into your business? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. If you are an accounting professional who worries about where your next client may come from, or even struggling with inconsistent cash flow not during tax season then head on over to 5stepstoabundance.com to get my simple 5-step process accountants use to go from “waiting around for the busy season” to closing high-level clients who are happy to pay the fees you deserve and who actually appreciate the work you do for them!