How to Sell Advisory Services to Clients

It’s common for accounting clients to seek advisory services from other businesses who specialize in business consulting. You, as their accountant or bookkeeper, have an opportunity to gain and retain clients by adding value to their business that exceeds the compliance services you already offer. By offering value-add services you can help grow their business as well as your own.

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7 Steps to Marketing Advisory Services

With your financial background, you are in a position to help small businesses survive, secure funding, forecast cash flow, and build a profitable business model. The tricky part is where and how to start selling your new services.

1. Choose your advisory services

When offering a new service it’s important to establish which areas you can cover. Here is a list of advisory services that you can provide your clients.

  • Tax planning and strategy
  • Technology stack implementation and maintenance
  • Management reporting
  • Cash flow forecasting
  • Key performance indicator dashboards
  • Industry benchmarking
  • Business performance reviews
  • Process automation
  • Budgeting and goal tracking
  • Strategic planning
  • Product price testing
  • Profitability consulting
  • Wealth management

2. Knowing how to sell

Step one in selling services is understanding the key issues your client has. A professional service must be a direct response to a fundamental problem. The successful performance of the service depends on an understanding of the client’s business as a whole – not only from the financial point of view.

Start your pitch by speaking to the clients overall business principles/values and objectives, then tie in how your advisory services will help those values and objectives flourish. A prospective client has bits and pieces of a problem, but is not sure how best to fit them together. Your firm’s responsibility is to put them together in an integrated and comprehensive way.

Remember that it’s common for clients to become apprehensive once the contracts are signed and the funds have been transferred. You should not assume that commitment to go ahead by itself implies full and continuing confidence. Quite frequently, continuing and concerted efforts are required to reassure clients that the money is in fact being well spent.

3. How to peak your client’s interest

The best way to peak your client’s interest in your advisory services is to find a need and do the analysis. Review your client’s data to find an area that needs some extra attention. For example, don’t simply provide them with a report showing low cash flow; find out why it’s low. Maybe they have too much tied up in a stock or slow Debtor cycles.

Offer your clients a free trial. Present two or more areas that need attention but only give one of the solutions for free. This way your client gets to test out the advisory service risk free meanwhile you’re peaking their interest in the numerous ways they can save money by using your services.

If you have previous clients that are happy with your advisory services, use them as referrals! Don’t hide them in your inbox or on a hard to reach part of your website. Print them, hand them out, place them front and centre on your website home page (of course always ask for permission before you do this).

Ask clients you’ve helped whether they will speak to other clients about their experience working with you in growing their business (and if they do, make sure you send them a ‘thank you’ gift). These referrals are invaluable because they instantly prove the worth of your services.

4. Pricing strategy

If you start talking about price before your client is convinced of the value of your advisory, you’ll be at a serious disadvantage when it comes to closing the deal.

So, as you discuss the problems they’re having and the challenges they want to solve, help them see the value of working with you. For example, ask questions like:

  • What would the consequences be if these issues were not dealt with?
  • How much would it cost to not fix these problems?

When you understand the project at hand, what kind of advisory services you’ll be providing, and how much real ROI your prospects will get from working with you, you can then base your price on value rather than pricing by the hour.

5. Employ marketing strategies

There are many marketing strategies you can put into place to make your clients aware about your new services on offer. You can use traditional marketing methods alongside newer digital methods, like text or email marketing.

It is a good idea to add a new page to your current website to sell your advisory services to your clients. Be sure to utilize local SEO, and, if you don’t already, focus some efforts on content marketing to help promote your accounting services.

6. Common mistakes to avoid

Make sure your client feels heard in the conversation, because being forceful by telling the client what to do too soon will scare them away. This is advisory, not compliance-based work, so the client will need to feel a relationship with you, and have the sense that you understand their business and their particular goals. Giving the client a small taste of an advisory conversation is a great way to model the advisory experience.

Be sure to search for qualified leads. Looking at only the short term profits a customer presents, means you are losing long-term growth and missing out on strategic relationships. Instead, focus your efforts on leads who will benefit the most from your advisory services and bring value to your practice over the long term.

For example if you’ve assisted customers with small business loans, but never worked with them in advisory before, those customers could be a big opportunity to turn short term work into long term value.

7. Keep your client data in one place with the right software

Having all your clients data in one place will make doing research into what advisory services would suit them best much easier. This is because being able to pull up up to date data or report within a matter of seconds will allow you to get a broad scope of your clients situation quickly.

With QuickBooks Online for accounting professionals you have all the tools you need to run your practice efficiently and serve your clients, so you can spend less time on manual data entry and compliance work, and more time on advisory. Having the right tools will add value and efficiency to your advisory services, so you can provide your clients with the most accurate up to date information.

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