We all want to sell more business to our clients so we can grow our firms, but many accountants find it difficult. Most accountants are not born salespeople and struggle with this piece of the puzzle.
That’s why we’ve brought on Michelle Weinstein to talk with us on the Growing Your Firm podcast. She’s the founder of The Pitch Queen and The Abundant Accountant. We discussed how to decrease the time it takes between introducing your services to someone and signing a deal.
- Have the Mindset of a Brain Surgeon
- Michelle’s Three Tips for Closing Deals
- Why You Should Never Send Proposals
Closing as Fast as Possible
When a client reaches out to you, they need help. But many of our readers and listeners can relate to a client acting wishy-washy about receiving it. You have the skills, but they’re not willing to make the leap.
Michelle first recommends taking on a different mindset when introducing your services. Instead of thinking about yourself as an accountant, think of yourself as a surgeon. When a surgeon says you have a problem, it’s urgent, and they’ll want to operate as soon as possible. Likewise, many accounting issues are diseases of the business. You need to assume the mindset of a surgeon and tell them they need treatment before their business dies.
In short, you need to take control of the conversation. Compare these scenarios:
- Accountant: Lets the client know they can help, but lets them decide on when to start.
- Surgeon: Lets the client know exactly what’s wrong, when you want to fix it, how you’ll fix it, and what you need from the client to make it happen.
Wouldn’t things be easier if you took charge of the conversation? This may be scary for some because we don’t want to feel like we’re telling others how to operate their business.
Think of it this way: If they knew the ins and outs of accounting, they probably wouldn’t be coming to you in the first place. They don’t know how serious tax problems and financial loans can be if they’re left to linger. You need to take charge and tell them why their business is threatened and offer a plan of action.
This mind-shift alone may be enough to close the gap between introducing your service and closing the deal, but there are three additional tips that Michelle recommends to speed things up.
Go In Like the Deal Is Already Closed
Michelle says that when you go to a client meeting, have an engagement letter and an invoice with you right at the start. Like the surgery example before, doctors won’t let you wait around if there is a problem. Take on that mindset of, “my client’s business is seriously ill, and I can help them if I take action now.” If you are prepared to start onboarding them at the meeting, you’ll reduce the time chasing clients who want time to talk themselves out of it.
If the thought of this makes you panic or feels pushy, here’s a strategy to try from the book Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss. After you’ve shared what you’ve found and explained your engagement letter and invoice, ask them why they’re choosing your firm.
This turns the client’s mind toward the reasons they want to hire you rather than why they don’t. After they’ve answered, assure them you can meet those expectations, make an appointment to get to work, and get that invoice paid.
To do this right, you must do your research in advance on your lead so you can jump right in with your engagement letter. Michelle has some tips on that in the podcast.
Control the Next Meeting
Not every client will want to jump in immediately. Michelle says that around 10-20% of people really do need a night or a day to think about a deal before closing. That’s when you book them for a follow-up appointment as soon as possible. Preferably in the next business day.
If you meet with a client on Friday, show them your engagement letter and invoice. When they ask to review it, schedule a follow-up appointment for Monday. Don’t give them time to drag out the decision-making because time kills deals.
Pro Tip: A good way to approach this is to suggest to the client two times they can meet with you so they can choose between them. If you give them a single option, they’re more likely to decline or try to move the conversation to email.
Send a Thank-You Card
If your potential client is someone that you really want to work with, then the third recommendation comes into play. Whether they signed up immediately or scheduled a follow-up, send them a thank-you card.
This is a very old-fashioned technique, but it works. The card should say something simple like:
<client>, it was an honor to meet with you today. I’m really excited to help you get your monthly accounting in line. It’s an honor to have you as a part of our firm’s family, and I look forward to working with and supporting you.
Have an amazing weekend.
Michelle buys a box of 500 simple one-page cards from Amazon with a pre-printed message and blanks to sign names. You could also leave blanks to summarize the key points of how your firm will help them out, or if you’ve got good handwriting, you could write the whole thing yourself each time. You don’t need to add anything in with the card.
Why do this? Because it makes the recipient feel fantastic! Getting a card is rare these days. It’s a reassurance to your client that you truly appreciate them, and it sets you apart from your competition.
Try out these tips in your next client meetings, and see if they reduce the time between meeting and closing your next deals!