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Sell What Clients Want: Peace of Mind

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Aug 30th 2016
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The legendary Zig Ziglar said, “Everybody wants the same things – to be happy, to be healthy, to be at least reasonably prosperous, and to be secure. They want friends, peace of mind, good family relationships, and hope that tomorrow is going to be even better than today.” As an accounting professional, you can play a role in this scenario; you sell peace of mind.

When I opened my accounting practice last year, I wanted my clients to feel as if their CPA would respond to any issue or situation with the following: “I got this!” “Don’t worry, it’s under control!” “It’s been resolved!”

It is difficult to understand the true monetary value of these statements. But when a client can rely on their CPA to take care of “it” without having to remind their CPA about “it,” there is an invaluable emotion that comes along with the service provided: Trust.

There is a tendency amongst CPAs, myself included, to read projects with thick, black lines boxing around the project. If engaged to prepare a tax return, a tax return is prepared. If engaged to consult regarding a sale of a business, the focus is solely on the sale of the business.

The distinction here is that anything outside of that box is potentially wasted time, as the CPA may or may not be compensated for the additional work outside of that proverbial box. This is a risk that staff are, on occasion, reprimanded for and, therefore, a quality service that is shied away from.

Over the past year, I have been building a small practice based out in California. In doing so, I have purposely strayed away from selling tax return or financial statement services, while moving toward selling financial “Peace of Mind.”

What is Peace of Mind?

So, what is it and, more importantly, how is it priced? “Peace of Mind” is different for every client. But from a financial perspective, for me it often includes these five basic tenets:

  1. Preparation of an annual tax return.
  2. Payroll management (along with tax filings).
  3. Property and sales tax reporting (particularly in California).
  4. Monthly accounting.
  5. Most importantly, a monthly or quarterly meeting with my client.

All of the above put together “Peace of Mind.” Because the client and the firm clearly communicate the projects that will be managed by the firm, together, we stop wasting our time having the following discussion:

CPA: “Would you like us to take care of that for you?”

Client: “How much will it cost?”

CPA: “Let me talk to my manager/partner and I will get back to you.”

Being the Trusted Advisor

Building a suite of services allows my firm to provide the “Peace of Mind” clients deserve while allowing my staff to work within their roles and capacities to ensure that promises made are promises kept. In many scenarios, this is referred to as being the “Trusted Advisor.”

The difference between the Trusted Advisor sale versus building “Peace of Mind” lies in who is leading the work. Within the Trusted Advisor service, it is incumbent upon the client to engage with the CPA to discuss any issue that may arise and, after the fact, be concerned further about what the fee of that meeting and subsequent work entailed.

Meanwhile, using the “Peace of Mind” approach, clients know that their accounting package includes frequent collaboration with their accounting team; no reminder is needed to keep the accounting team on track. In reality, it’s not about the lingo used to engage with clients, it’s about how the relationship feels.

As Ziglar advises, “Peace of Mind” is a good feeling for everyone involved! The client has a set expectation for results and knows, when needed, they have somebody standing up for them!

For the accounting staff, their shackles have been unlocked; to look beyond getting a tax return out the door or a financial statement to the bank; a new lease on a career and a fresh approach to providing clients with valuable information.

In taking the approach of helping clients’ business grow and giving them the information to make business decisions, the return to my firm will entail higher future revenues (as clients grow and demand more) and a greater referral base. Not a bad combination!

So, what do you do to offer “Peace of Mind?” What do your clients really want?

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