Predominantly, when I meet with new firms and go over the Cloud accounting services opportunity, the first thing they want to do is start putting together a marketing plan. Most firms quickly find they're lost when they start this way. They are desperate for help with creating sales materials to take to market and how to market the service line.
Without putting together the offering first, the firm will quickly revert to marketing how they've always sold their other services, such as audit and tax. Without taking the time to build the solution first, you end up marketing services as you have always done, rather than a solution.
Historically, it's easier to go to market in audit and tax. We go to school and learn the rules and regulations of performing those services with clients. We are tested on it for proficiency and specialize in either area. When we complete audit and tax engagements for clients, there are forms and checklists for us to follow to make sure we're doing what we're supposed to do that are fairly consistent from engagement to engagement.
This creates an easier message with new audit and tax prospect clients when setting expectations of how an engagement will be. It also gives us the confidence in how we price and market those engagements because we know the underlying costs and time as far as staff, technology, and other resources to complete it. It's more compliance work and services driven. We don't have to reimagine the service and be too creative in how we execute it with each client. It's standard and fairly consistent.
This isn't the case with Cloud accounting services. We don't go to school for this. There's no standardization currently in the profession on how to deliver the services. We rely on our industry expertise and accounting experience. It's up to us to design a solution that will be marketable to clients, not execute it the same way we always have with the same audit and tax metrics and pricing.
When designing this solution, ask yourself what pain points you're solving for the client with this new service. What's the workflow to reduce your client's time performing accounting functions while maximizing the business intelligence they have at their fingertips to run their business? Don't try to fit this in the same box as audit and tax, else it will never succeed. Rethink how you do everything in your engagements and determine the solution you'll be selling - before you try to market it.
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About the author:
Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP, CGMA, is the CPA programs leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally, collaborating with CPA2Biz, and working with Intacct BPO CPA firms to help them grow their outsourced accounting services practices. You can find other blog posts by Amy on business topics and yoga at: http://thedrishtiqcpa.blogspot.com/.