Every year at the same time the Accounting profession enters the best marketing opportunity of the year. Most call it ‘tax season’ I call it ‘marketing season’.
Think about it. During tax season, you’re about to meet (or speak with) almost all of your clients over a relatively short period. What an opportunity to find out what they really need?
Your clients have to buy compliance – it’s a grudge purchase. It’s like filling up the car with petrol – we don’t like doing it but we have to do it. Doing our taxes is the same. The Government mandates I must file my return and pay my taxes by a certain date. Arrgghhh – what a drag. Where’s the value in that?
As a business owner I need other things. Your job as an Accountant to find out what I need then deliver that.
Your primary job as a proactive Accountant is to make sure that every client is buying every service they need that helps them achieve their goals.
Let’s start with the basics. Every year when my business compliance return is filed I have 2 primary questions.
- How much tax do I need to pay and why do I need to pay it?
- Where did the money go? This report says I made $250K profit yet I’ve only got $5K in the bank account!
Your clients will verbally ask no. 1 all the time and they’ll either ask no. 2 or they’ll think it. We ask these questions because we do not understand the financial ‘ebbs & flows’ of the digit flow. We are not Accountants.
Whenever I ask a group of Accountants what is the no. 1 product / service a client should buy from you that helps them manage their financial affairs the answer is always the same all over the world.
You guessed it. A budget and cashflow forecast. Every SINGLE time from every Accountant I ask the answer is the same.
If a client had a live, working and reliable budget and cashflow forecast they could manage their business better. They would know their cash position at all times, they could plan better and make better decisions. As a result of making better decisions they could become more profitable, grow their revenue and increase their wealth. All because they had a live, working and reliable budget and cashflow forecast.
So if you know this is no. 1 then the next question should be – what percentage of your clients have a live, working and reliable one?
That answer is always the same as well. Unless they have a controller in house then it’s less than 5%. Seriously! This is the no. 1 thing they should buy from you yet less than 5% have one. When I raise this with Accountants I sometimes get this bizarre response – my clients have not asked me for one. My response to that is your clients didn’t know they needed one. And they didn’t know that you could do it.
The only way they will know that they need one is if you have a conversation with them when you meet with them.
Here is the conversation to have with EVERY business client this year.
You: Your end of year compliance report said you made a profit of $250K yet you only have $5K in the bank account. Do you know why that is?
Client: Not really no.
You: I can explain in detail later but before I do I was wondering if you would you like to know how to manage your business better and have more free cash this year?
Client: Yes, of course.
You: By my rough calculations, and based on the same profit next year, I believe we can make the cash balance number around $50K instead of $5k. If I could help you do that what would it mean to you?
Client: It be great.
You: Can you elaborate what you mean by great?
Client: An extra $45K in the bank would mean I could grow my business and have a better life.
You: Yes – the outcome would be pretty awesome for you. I can definitely help you achieve that result. When would you like me to help you fix it?
Client: Right away.
You: Awesome. Here’s what’s going to happen from here. I am going to go away and write up an implementation plan on exactly HOW we’re going to help you free up your cashflow so you can grow your business and as you said – have a better life. The implementation plan will have 3 options you could take and each option will have a fixed fee. I’ll get that plan to you by close of business Tuesday. Once you’ve read it, you’ll have some questions, so we’ll need to meet again to answer those question and work out which option you would like to take. When will you get a chance to read it?
Client: As soon as I get it.
You: So, could we meet again on Thursday at say 9:15am so we can work out your questions and get started?
Client: Sounds great.
You: So just to confirm. I’m going to go away and think about your situation some more, write up an implementation plan, send it to you by close of business Tuesday, you’ll read it and then we’ll meet again on Thursday at 9:15am to go through it and work out which option to take. Whichever option you take we can get started right away to help you free up your cashflow, so you can grow your business and have a better life. Sound good?
Client: Great. Can’t wait. I look forward to reading your plan and seeing you next week.
Your client didn’t know that they needed a budget / cashflow / inventory analysis / accounts receivable’s management / finance review / profit improvement / monitoring program worth $5K – $50K (depending on which option they take) – but that’s what they’ll buy…if you just have the conversation.
Your client is not buying ‘things’ (like a cashflow forecast) they’re buying the result of what the cashflow forecast (and other options) can do for them.
It’s tax season. Have the conversation with your client and really help them.