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How Sales Teams Should Talk to Accountants

Apr 12th 2017
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The struggle for vendors that market their products and services to accounting firms is real and very much a part of how we go about our business at AccountingWEB, which is why we wanted to share this recent blog post from Megan Schottler, solutions advisor at Boomer Consulting.

From time to time, AccountingWEB has been known to share content from Boomer Consulting blogs when it is relevant to our audience. While this particular one may not speak as directly to tax and accounting professionals as most of our content does, it is no less relevant as it speaks to the essential relationship between the two parties; one, again, that we often look to assist as part of our own business.

Please take the time to read it through and of course share your feedback, not just on the blog, but on your own experiences with the vendor community and how you too believe it can be improved.

Part of my work at Boomer Consulting Inc. involves working with vendors that want to market their products and services to CPA firms. A common issue for these vendors is how to teach their sales teams to talk to accounting firms.

After all, salespeople and accountants rarely occupy the same space. It can be difficult for salespeople to talk the talk of a CPA in a way that garners their attention and respect. Here, I’ve outlined a few ways your sales team can learn to do just that.

It’s Not About Selling, It’s About Solving

Whether you are selling to an accounting firm or an individual consumer, sales are about solving a problem. Your first task is to figure out what problem you are trying to solve. Work to understand the real nature of a firm’s problem and how your product or service can solve that problem.

Be careful not to mistake a symptom for the problem. For example, let’s say you are selling software that assists accounting firms with billing, specifically billing is a time-consuming and lengthy chore for the firm with which you are speaking.

Digging deeper, you discover that the managing partner of the firm insists on personally reviewing and approving every invoice before it is sent out. This is not a software problem, it’s a process problem. No software in the world will solve their problem.

When you do have the right solution, remember that you are speaking to financial professionals. While you should have a thorough understanding of the economics of your solution, selling to financial professionals is about understanding the real nature of their problem and showing them how you can solve it.

Don’t spend too much time trying to demonstrate the economics of the situation. They will usually figure out those aspects of the deal on their own.

Know Who to Talk To

One of the most important aspects of selling to accounting firms is knowing who to talk to. This will vary based on the product or service you are selling. Too often, a sales person just calls the front desk and asks to speak to the person in charge of XYZ. When your call is invariably transferred to the wrong person, you are unlikely to be rerouted to the correct contact.

Do your research ahead of time. The person you need to speak to may be the Managing Partner, it may be the IT Director, or it might be the Director of HR.

Consider who in the firm would have the problem you want to solve and would be a willing audience to listen to your solution. Search LinkedIn or the firm’s website to find the name and contact information for the person you need to speak to. A little time spent researching before making a call can save time barking up the wrong tree later.

Know When to Make Contact and When to Follow Up

Accounting is a deadline-driven profession so it’s imperative that your sales team knows when the deadlines hit, as it’s unlikely that they’ll find a receptive audience if they reach out during peak busy periods. Consider the type of services your target firm provides and who you are speaking to within the firm.

Tax professionals will not have time for sales calls from January through April 15th(or whenever the end of individual tax filing season happens to be that year) and leading up to the September 15th and October 15th deadlines. Payroll professionals will have short attention spans when they are buried in quarterly payroll tax returns. Navigate the quiet times between deadlines to find a receptive audience.

Connect with Peer Groups

It can be difficult for salespeople with no experience in the accounting industry to know what accounting firms want and need. Connecting to them through a peer group can help you bridge that gap. Attending summits and meetings with these peer groups gives sales people a unique insight into the problems that keep accounting firm leaders up at night.

If your sales team has not worked with accounting firms before, even the most experienced salesperson can be intimidated working with these analytical professionals. Selling to accounting firms requires plenty of training and lots of research.

Just remember, at the end of the day, CPAs are just people, too!

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