The Normal Accounting Sales Model No Longer Works

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Once upon a time, I sent snail mail to prospective clients. I would download the free list provided by the state of Florida and send solicitation letters to people that formed a corporation or LLC.

There was this CPA in my community who did the same thing, and we always got his postcards. Lo and behold, you will never guess what I got in my mailbox the other day. One of these postcards came from the same CPA.

The problem is that it’s 2017, and mailers, as I figured out about ten years ago, don’t work anymore.

Traditionally, accounting firms are set up pretty much the same way. You have a receptionist, staff accountants, and then the accountants, who are usually the owners or partners of the business. A potential client meets with the main accountant, and when the account is sold, the client is then passed off to a staff accountant who does the bookkeeping and possibly the tax returns under the watchful eye of the main accountant. That account is basically managed by the staff accountant, with the main accountant stepping in to assist when needed.

This sales model has been turned upside down in the last few years by accountants leaving their brick-and-mortar offices, obtaining a virtual office for an address, and spending time in one of the virtual office’s meeting rooms. Most work is now done at home.

Clients will get a virtual phone service that will ring to any phone programmed to it, and the illusion is that you are sitting in your office when that important client calls. They might think you’re in a suit, when you could very well be working at home in your PJs. If additional help is needed, then work is outsourced by companies that will handle most of the tasks of an accounting firm, either in the U.S. or offshore.

If you Google, “How to start an accounting practice,” you will get all kinds of tips on offices, staffing help, etc.

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About Craig W. Smalley, EA

Craig Smalley

Craig W. Smalley, MST, EA, has been in practice for almost 23 years. He has been admitted to practice before the IRS as an enrolled agent and has a master's in taxation. He is well-versed in US tax law and US Tax Court cases. He specializes in taxation, entity structuring and restructuring, corporations, partnerships, and individual taxation, as well as representation before the IRS regarding negotiations, audits, and appeals. In his many years of practice, he has been exposed to a variety of businesses and has an excellent knowledge of most industries. He is the CEO and co-founder of CWSEAPA PLLC and Tax Crisis Center LLC; both business have locations in Florida, Delaware, and Nevada. Craig is the current Google small business accounting advisor for the Google Small Business Community. He is a contributor to AccountingWEB and Accounting Today, and has had 12 books published on various topics in taxation. His articles have also been featured in the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, and several other newspapers, periodicals, and magazines. He has been interviewed and been a featured guest on many radio shows and podcasts. Finally, he is the co-host of Tax Avoidance is Legal, which is a nationally broadcast weekly Internet radio show.

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Dec 7th 2017 20:24

Hi Craig- I just wanted to say thanks for the terrific article! I too am trying to ditch the crusty old marketing tactics that don't work and focus on digital strategies and giving away my expertise. I like your no-BS writing style, this article was very fun to read:)

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