By Wayne Morris, UK author of Best Practice, a marketing and sales program for accountants
Let’s get straight to the point. There’s one single marketing mistake that’s killing the success of more accountants than even the global crisis and UK recession combined.
And really it’s quite simple: Accountants tend to never learn how to successfully market themselves. While universities are great at teaching you how to be accountants, they don’t teach you how to market your services. So of course when you get out of university and you’re first getting started, you aren’t sure what to do, so you look around and copy what all the other accountants are doing. That’s only natural, right? But it’s absolutely deadly.
The biggest mistake accountants make
Take a moment to really consider the following points and make sure you’re not making this mistake. If you are, you’re going to learn how to fix it.
Here it is. When you go to market... you market yourself as an accountant.
Hang on a minute, “I am an accountant” I hear you protest, you’re right! But here’s the bad news. You’re marketing yourself as an accountant, and the majority of your prospects don’t want an accountant... they want the very best solution possible to their problem, a solution that they can only get from using an accountant.
You focus on being an accountant, your prospects focus on what they need from having an accountant.
As much as it might be hard to accept, most business owners look at things in three ways: how much it will make me, save me, or is it a necessity. Accountants generally fall into the later. People generally don’t want an accountant, what they want is what an accountant can do.
If you can understand this point then you will quickly see that an opportunity exists. If you are going to continue to sell yourself as an accountant, churning out accounting documents day-to-day you will continue in this rat race that you are currently finding yourself in.
No wonder so many accountants present themselves as a “me too” accountant, struggling to get new clients, and when they do it’s by trading time for money. The moment you can position yourself as an expert, a creditable “go to” solution provider then you can truly break through the glass ceiling of trading time for money and find that clients will engage you because you truly offer a market leading service.
Let’s do a quick test right now. I want you to pull out your last marketing letter. Does it offer accounting, bookkeeping, payroll services etc.? Do you have a website listing these services and an offer “contact us for further information?” If so, you’re in real trouble and leaving yourself open to competing on price. You’re not setting yourself apart from the competition or using two of the most powerful ways to attract clients, positioning and range of services.
The second biggest mistake
And there’s even worse news. What’s the second biggest mistake accountants make? Calling your prospects before they call you. I’ve come across too many accountants that have solely relied upon telemarketing to attempt to generate enquiries. The most important question in marketing is: “who calls who first?”
Let me explain. Imagine for a moment that you’re not an accountant. Imagine you run a busy restaurant. Its lunchtime and it’s extremely hectic with the lunch time rush. Drama is going on in the kitchen, customers are demanding great service, orders are flying all over the place. It’s literally a madhouse!
And in the middle of all that craziness, in the busiest time of your day, the phone rings. You pick it up and say, “Hello?”
I’m on the other end. I say, “Hi, I’m with XYZ Accountants. We’re a local firm of accountants and I’d like to arrange to come and see you about our service. Do you have a minute?”
Let’s stop right there. What’s going through your head?
“Do you have a minute?” Of course you don’t.
What kind of person am I? I’m a salesperson.
What have I just done? I’ve interrupted your busy day. I’m a pest.
What do you want to do? You want to hang up, tell me to go away, and get back to your work as quickly as you possibly can.
Even if I’m the best accountant in the world, even if my motives are good, even if my intentions are pure, it’s over at “Hello.”
Why? Because I called you first.
Be a doctor, not a salesperson.
On the flip side, have you ever been home, enjoying dinner with your family, and the phone rings? You pick it up; it’s your doctor. He says, “Hey, it’s Dr. Jones. We’ve got a special on flu vaccinations.
Is anyone in your home sick?”
Has that ever happened to you? Of course not! That never, ever happens. Doctors don’t work that way.
Here’s how doctors work. You get sick, you go to the doctor. They listen, they diagnose, they give you their advice and they tell you what to do. And what happens? You listen. You respect what they have to say. And nine times out of 10, you do what they tell you to.
One approach gets you treated like a pest. The other gets you treated with respect. And what’s the only difference? The only difference is you called them first. If a doctor ever did cold-call you, you’d flip them off like all the other cold callers calling you. But you go to the doctor, and you treat them with respect.
That’s what you want for your practice. You want to get the prospects to call you. Because if they call you, they’re at least twice as likely to hire you as their accountant.
Here’s the big lesson: you want to be less like the sales person and more like the doctor. You want to get prospects to call you. It’s time to stop prospecting and start positioning.
Reprinted from our sister site, AccountingWEB.co.uk
About the author:
Wayne Morris is the author of Best Practice, a leading marketing and sales program for accountants available for trial. He is also the creator of MMP, the revolutionary marketing system that turns any existing accountant into a “go to” firm.