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How to Sell Accounting Services and Grow an Accounting Firm

female tax professional shaking hands with a new client

Accounting firms, like most businesses, are not non-profits. This means your accounting firm is in the business of making sales. Yes, that dirty word—sales. Love it or hate it, accountants must sooner or later sell their services to clients, or at least get others to do so for them. Otherwise, there is no business, no service, and no accounting firm.

While simple in concept, many accountants aren’t comfortable with the idea of selling. This might have to do with society’s general stereotype of selling as a negative thing, reserved for used car lots and telemarketers. This is why this article will look at two simple ways you can look at sales to make you feel more comfortable about the process.  

Problem + Solution = SALES

The Accountant Who Couldn’t Sell Accounting Services Nor Grow an Accounting Firm

Here’s an accounting firm growth story that you may relate to. Meet Jeff. He quit his job to start his own accounting firm, but he soon found out the hard way he couldn’t get enough clients to remain solvent. He offered low end tax preparation services, but struggled to make even $500 a month in sales.

As you can imagine, $500 per month wasn’t cutting it, so Jeff went back to his job only 4 months later. He realized if he had his own accounting firm, knowing HOW to do the service wasn’t enough, he had to learn how to SELL accounting services.

Within 18 months he began to learn about tax planning. Going back to starting his own accounting firm again, he discovered how to sell tax planning as a higher level advisory service. By the end of 2019 he had sold over $70,000 of tax services in a single month*!

Successful Accountants Sell Accounting Services

How do some accountants like Jeff go from $500 to $5,000 in a month, and then from $5,000 to $70,000? They know how to sell the right product, at the right price, to the right client. 

The Right Product to Sell Accounting Services

As mentioned above, Jeff didn’t have accounting firm growth while he was selling low-priced tax preparation services initially. His financial situation didn’t begin to change until he started selling tax planning services. Could he have done well for himself only doing tax prep? Even if he sold hundreds, he’d still be doing low-margin work when you consider his time and energy. 

This is why finding the right product or service to sell is vital. Successful accountants go beyond the basics of tax preparation, bookkeeping, and AP/AR. They learn tax planning, CFO services, wealth management, and financial coaching. These are all higher level advisory services that have a higher payoff than lower margin “Betty Bookkeeper” type services.

The Right Price to Sell Accounting Services

The key difference between an accountant slogging through dozens of stand-alone 1040s at $300 each versus the accountant who is selling CFO work in the thousands, is VALUE. Note that all successful accountants highly value their time and energy because those two things are scarce. 

Would you rather sell $100,000 doing 250 tax preps at $400 each or sell 20 tax plans at $5,000 each? The workload is so different between these two scenarios, that even though you’d be considered an accountant doing either, it’s almost like two completely separate professions! 

The Right Client to Sell Accounting Services to

Once you have the right service and price, you can then begin finding the right clients and make possible long-term accounting firm growth. Many accountants don’t realize this, but you don’t have to put up with difficult clients who nag you too often or complain about price. The best accountants find the right clients—those who are easy to work with and pay well. This is what it takes to grow an accounting firm.

A Process to Sell Accounting Services

Problem + Solution = Sales

Once you have the right product at the right price, you are then ready to find the right client. All businesses, and hence all clients, seek to solve a problem. As a business, your accounting firm has to first diagnose the problem your potential client is having. You do this by asking qualifying questions, and once you confirm the client has the problem you can solve, it’s time to show them that YOU are their solution.

How do you show you have the solution? By building value in your offer and answering objections. You must not only show the client your service will solve their problem, but that the value of solving this problem is much greater than the price of your service. This is sales in a nutshell.

The Problem Your Accounting Clients Have

You have to know the problem(s) you solve better than your clients can articulate them. Each problem can have multiple pain points. As an example of this, a common problem is that a client wants to spend more time on running their business and less time on financials. The specific pain points for this problem can be many:

  • NOT having confidence the numbers are accurate
  • NOT having a budget or a plan before each month begins
  • No one to hold them accountable to the things they need to do 
  • NO plan to increase revenue (price and volume)
  • NO plan for cost remediation, gross and net profit expansion
  • NOT setting aside savings or investing for retirement
  • The fear of not having their assets protected 
  • Getting a surprise tax bill

Each one of these example pain points can come from the single problem of wanting to spend more time on the business without having to worry about financials. Good accountants who know sales are able to exacerbate the pain points. Remember, sales start with a problem.

Once the problem is at the forefront, and your client has been reminded of all the pain points associated with the problem, now is the time to present the solution. This is where you show you can solve all their pain points along with their overall problem.

If you’re selling a CFO service, you can detail to your client how you can:

  • Review their numbers to see if they are accurate 
  • Help them make a budget and plan before each month begins
  • Hold them accountable to the things they need to do (business & personal)
  • Help them get a plan to increase revenue (price and volume)
  • Make a plan for cost remediation, gross and net profit expansion
  • Set aside savings and start to invest for retirement
  • Help them protect their assets 
  • Set aside for taxes quarterly so they never get a surprise tax bill

In short, you become the solution to their problem. You show them how you can fix each of their pain points!

This is why accountants are salespeople. You have a business. You sell a service. 

If you want a great accounting firm, you have to get great at sales!

Problem + Solution = Sales

Discover how to grow your accounting firm by selling high-value accounting services.

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