Pushing for the sale doesn’t come naturally for many accountants. However, there are times where it’s necessary to do small talks to try in order to understand more about a potential client. For example, in networking and social events.
What do you do after you’ve introduced yourself? Where do you find topics that are relevant business topics to keep the conversation flowing? This article will look at different ways in subtly steering a conversation towards their business’s accounting.
The Three Golden Rules
Start the conversation on the right foot and follow these 3 golden rules:
#1 Don't Be Pushy
We all know the feeling of being cornered by those over-enthusiastic, sleazy salesmen. Pushing your services aggressively won’t win you any clients, it’ll just annoy your prospect and make you look bad.
#2 Don't Criticize
While it’s extremely tempting to point out people’s mistakes and stroke your own ego, knocking others down doesn’t build you up. It’ll just leave a bitter taste on your prospect, which will push them away.
#3 Don't Undercut Prices
Never compete on price, don’t race to the bottom. Even if you get the customer, they’ll treat you as a commodity and not someone who can truly add value and make a difference to their business.
Accounting Questions In General Questions
Typically, if you introduce yourself as an accountant, the conversation will automatically head to the direction of who your prospects are using. When that time comes, make you don’t put your prospect or your competitor down – remember rule #2. Start the conversation on the right foot by giving them a compliment instead.
By keeping the conversation upbeat, it’ll make things easier for you when you try to slip in more questions – on things like how long you’ve been using them for. The goal is to keep the conversation around their business and accounting, and eventually to get them to open up.
Sometimes, it may look impossible for a prospect to change accountants because they believe that the ones, they’re working with are already perfect. However, chances are that there have been times where the prospect have been upset with the accountant, or that the accountant doesn’t offer a specific requirement that the prospect needs. Simply probe about these 2 issues to see if there are something you can help with. Their answers could be a game-changer because it’ll let you know exactly what they’re looking for and how specifically you can pitch your services.
Lastly, in networking events, it isn’t a time for full-blown pitches where you tell everyone why you’re the best. It’s better to play things cool.
You may want to play it cool by just passing your business card to them and say something along the lines of “Tonight isn’t really about talking business. If you’re interested, let’s get in touch – here’s my business card”.
Asking Specific Accounting Questions
Other than qualifying prospects through general conversations, you may want to go for a more blunt approach by asking these questions instead.
#1 Succession Planning
This is a big question that very few businesses ever consider. If their accountant is a one-man band, what happens if they have an accident, if they suddenly shut their business down, or if they move or retire? This won’t be such a big issue for those who use larger practices, but it’s still important to highlight the risks and make sure larger practices will get this area covered too.
#2 Data Storage & Security
With the world becoming more and more digitized, data breaches are becoming the norm. While only very serious mess ups hit the headlines, what steps do your prospects accountant take to keep their data safe and secure?
This is becoming increasingly important too because of GDPR! There probably are some sort of security measures in place, but the client may not be aware of what they are.
#3 Disaster Recovery Plans
What happens when accidents and disasters strike? Smaller accounting firms are mostly still paper-based. If their office catches fire, or if they don’t have the proper process in place to treat your records, what will happen?
Again, no one really thinks about this. However, it’s a risk that’s worth your prospect’s attention. Ask them about their accountant’s record processes, backup processes, insurances and so on.
#4 Advisory & Consultancy Services
We all know the biggest value in accounting isn’t just about adding numbers up. Instead, it’s about advising businesses on how to be more effective in how they spend their money. Find out what your prospects biggest concerns are in their business, both short-term and long-term. That way, you can identify areas where you can plan and offer value.
Is It Worth The Effort?
At the very start, we talked about making small talks at social events. The more general questions outlined here will help you look genuine and not like a pushy salesman.
As for the more blunt approach, while the question might not poke holes in legitimate accounting firms, it will help you build authority and trust with your prospect. By demonstrating your knowledge and experience within the industry, you may pique their interest to take conversations further, or potentially pass referral in the future.