Outsourced accounting services allow you to get a wide variety of tasks completed in a lot less time and at the same, or higher, level of expected quality. This frees you up to spend more time face-to-face with your client, which in turn gives you more chances to be of greater value to them.
The question is, what do they need? You don’t want to be a nuisance that just shotguns services at some poor unfortunate client, hoping that something you can do (and charge for) will hit the mark. That’s a good way to lose clients (and have them warn their friends and colleagues to stay away from you).
Here’s a good skill to develop – listening for cues. Specifically, listening to your client for little clues as to what their financial situation could benefit from in terms of an added accounting service or two. When meeting with a client your goal is not to become a fountain spewing out a random variety of untargeted offers; instead you’re going to absolutely concentrate on what your client is saying and tease the proper sales pitch path from their stated concerns.
Of course, you’re going to want to be thoroughly familiar with your client’s file as this will help you to pick up a few key trends that you can use to get the ball rolling. Using outsourced accounting services will give you the time you need to prepare for your meeting. Let’s take a look at a few examples of cues and responses.
Let’s start with something fairly obvious. In your meeting your client complains about how taxes are eating away at everything they build.
Every accountant is likely to hear this any number of times throughout their career. Don’t let it become background noise – this is your client asking you to go to war for them. Have a pitch prepared in which you state that you’ve seen a number of ways in which they could be saving money, and would they like you to get to work on showing them how this can be done?
Even better, since you’ve outsourced accounting services you now have time to set up a package or two. Let’s say for example that you cater to new business owners. When you hear this cue from your client introduce them to your Super-Whizbang New Business Package which is expressly designed to help people exactly like them to get through the first 5 hectic years of their business’ growth.
What business owner isn’t going to want to know that you, sweet accounting angel of mercy that you are, already know how to handle their tax problems?
Clients will probably understand when their sales aren’t as high as they used to be (although you’ve probably encountered a time or two when they didn’t even understand this basic fact).
What they may very well not know is why these losses are occurring – they might not understand that they’ve picked up additional overhead, or that maybe component parts for their widgets had an increase in price that, by individual unit, is not significant, but taken altogether represents a bruising increase to operating costs.
So, using the extra time that outsourced accounting services provide you, take a look at some of your client’s numbers where business isn’t quite what it could be. For example, they might be afraid to pass on rising component costs to their customers, but you’re able to show that by raising their costs even a little bit higher they would be able to weather the loss of a certain amount of customers – an idea that many business owners haven’t ever contemplated before. You’ll be able to help them try out and monitor different price points and settle on a new sweet spot.
When you hear them saying that their business is suffering, you’ll be ready to leap in with an offer to lay out their costs and profits in an understandable manner.
A client might express a wish to increase profits by such-and-such a percentage in the next fiscal year. But using the extra productivity time from your outsourced accounting services you know that you could actually boost that percentage to a higher degree, thanks to your insights into the clients’ transactions’ numbers and values etc.
Add structure to their accounting
Some clients might be reluctant to get a bit stricter when it comes to collecting on dues. They think the good will this generates ultimate brings them more money in the long run. It’s possible that this is true… but it’s also possible that not having that money in their accounts in a timely manner is causing them liquidity troubles which are ultimately hurting their business.
So if your client comes in knowing that they’re making money but they’re a bit vague as to where that money actually is you can jump in with an offer to show them how to create and maintain a more regulated collection procedure. You’ll save them from having to putter along month to month when they could be growing at a much greater clip.
Listening is a skill
Using the time that outsourced accounting services provide you’ll be able to have more face time with your clients. Every one of these meetings is a lesson not just for your clients, but also for you. Make notes of the meetings in general and you’ll find that the same cues come up time and again, which is a great way of recognising what kind of pre-made value-add packages you should put together.