Making the sale depends on addressing an urgent need | AccountingWEB

Making the sale depends on addressing an urgent need

By Barbara Bix - The diagram here describes the buying process. I contend that before anyone buys anything, they need to go through these nine steps. This is true for any purchase.

The higher the risk, the longer the sales cycle…

For low risk, inexpensive purchases like a candy bar, buyers whip through all nine steps in a matter of seconds. When it comes to major purchases, the buying process often takes months and sometimes years. For example, think back to the time it took your own business to decide to put up—or even redo—your website…

Let’s walk through the buying process to begin to understand some of the circumstances that cause sales cycles to stretch out, beginning with the first row of the chart (although in practice the second or third row may happen first).

Only those that have a need will purchase

The first box is labeled HAVE NEED. That’s because no one will buy from you unless they need what you have to offer. Nevertheless, most businesses waste resources promoting solutions to unqualified prospects–those that don’t need what they have to offer and therefore will never buy. For example, my small business sometimes gets sales calls from companies that sell products and services that only make sense for much larger companies.

But first they must recognize that the need exists

The next box is labeled RECOGNIZE NEED. How many of you know of companies that would be much better off if they purchased from you—but they’re continuing to do business in the same way they’ve always done? Chances are if they stopped to consider the real costs of inertia, they’d behave differently–but in the meantime sales cycles stretch out.

Take for example, some of the taxpayers that use the post office to submit their taxes. Many are aware that they qualify for free filing and have computers—but they continue to post their returns via US mail.

Although some subset of these individuals has well thought out concerns about filing over the Internet, most have just never stopped to really examine the pros and cons. In fact, they probably would have filed their returns electronically if they had only learned of the option when they were less busy—or realized in advance just how long they would have to wait in line on April 15 to obtain proof that they had mailed their documents in on time. Nevertheless, they didn’t; so the IRS will have to wait at least another year to consummate the sale.

Then, it generally takes a sense of urgency to generate demand

The third box is labeled READY TO BUY. Many buyers not only need a particular solution; they are aware that they should take action. Nevertheless, they delay buying because the urgent takes precedence over the important. In fact, it’s not uncommon for other initiatives to continue to take priority until the need becomes truly pressing.

To sum up, getting the sale depends on finding prospective buyer that need what you have to offer. Nevertheless, need is a necessary but not sufficient condition. Prospective buyers must realize what they’re missing by delaying a purchase and develop a sense of urgency about filling the gap.

Next week, we’ll proceed to row two of the buying process chart and discuss three more factors that can cause sales cycles to stretch out.

This blog

by Barbara Bix - In tough economic times, more and more clients are looking to their accountants to help them improve the bottom line. Often, the best way to do that is to start with the top line-since one can only decrease expenses so far. This blog discusses concrete actions you and your business-to-business clients can use to accelerate revenues.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.


Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.


Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.


Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".


William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.


Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (, a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.


Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.


Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website:
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.


The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.


FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.


Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.


Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.


AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.