Selling Fees Part 2: When To Discuss Fees

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By Allan Boress, CPA - Doctors are perhaps the greatest salespeople in the world, and excellent role models for our sales success, which is why I use the ‘business doctor” analogy in The “I-Hate-Selling” Book.

• Do doctors look like salespeople?
• Do they act like salespeople?
• Where does the sales interview take place?
• Do they talk a lot and volunteer too much information?

Aha! But doctors aren't salespeople you say? You must not have physicians, vets, dentists or chiropractors for clients!

If doctors don't sell, why are so many unnecessary operations in this country performed? According to the AMA's own studies, if a physician has an x-ray machine on their premises, your chances of being exposed to radiation are a casual 40% higher than if they had to send you out for x-rays, and they'll charge you 40% more than you would have to pay a lab to take them. I call that hard selling!

Doctors know that the time to discuss fees is before you solve the client’s problems or concerns and take away their "hurts." People have an entirely different listening for your fees when they are hurting than when they are relieved or not in pain.

A great example if that of going to the dentist. The great salesman, Bill Clinton himself, could be inspecting your mouth and he isn't going to sell you a root canal for any amount of money, nor even be able to give it to you for free. But after he gets done poking around in there and you feel your teeth afire -- viola! You'll pay almost anything to get the situation resolved.

This situation is exactly the same that the CPA faces in the selling interview. The problem is that 95% of all CPAs simply don't know how to sell and wind up blabbering away about how their firm was founded in 16 B.C., and how great they and their firm are, rather than coming prepared with a list of ten to twenty questions about the client and their business.

My clients average a 80-90% closure rate using my sales techniques in competitive situations for higher fees, partly because they know when to discuss fees.

Yes -- even people who are forced to use us, such as we find in the typical audit and tax situation, have aches and hurts about their business that we could help solve (let alone the difficulties in dealing with their current CPA firm), but we never find them when we are unprepared, trying to impress the client with our brilliance or are doing a dog and pony show. Result? The client controls the sales interview and beats the CPA up on fees.

By Allan Boress, CPA – author of The I-Hate-Selling Book, available at and

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