How do you evidence your value to prospective clients? You need to be able to do this effectively if you want to charge more than the absolute minimum for your services.
This is a key part of promoting and pitching your services.
Your promotional and marketing messages should be designed to attract the type of clients you really want. To an extent you have to assume you know what they will value.
Once you are talking to a specific prospect however, you need to stop making assumptions. Instead you need to ask good questions, to listen and to reflect back what was said to you when you describe your style, approach and service. The more you focus on what really matters to each specific prospect, the easier it becomes to win them as a client paying you the fees you deserve.
The fee that each client is willing to pay depends, to a large extent, on the value they perceive they will get from you and your services.
A traditional and largely out-dated view is that your fees should be dependent on how long it takes you to do something. In such cases hourly rates are typically a function of staff salary rates and/or your perception of what ‘the market’ will stand for a generic service. And yet clients rarely care about how long it takes to complete their accounts or tax returns, or even to research the law before you give them advice.
What they typically care about is the value they perceive they get from your service. This is one reason why I have long taught accountants to help their clients to appreciate this value, to the extent it is hidden from view.
Perhaps the best example here is the way that some clients talk about how “My accountant has saved me so much in tax”.
How do clients know how much tax they have saved?
Most of the time they only know this because their accountant has told them. And in so doing such accountants have helped quantify their value to such clients.
The value you deliver isn’t just about tax savings of course. Your value to clients is a function of your years of experience and qualifications; your depth of knowledge, your intuition, your skills & abilities, your amazing insights into how to best to help your clients and your personal ethics that make that happen. It’s about the overall impact that you have on your clients and the difference you make to them, their lives and their businesses. It’s about what clients are left with after you have completed your work. And how they perceive this.
Here are 4 questions that will help you identify the value you really deliver to your clients:
Q1 Do you understand, do you know or are you just speculating and hoping, as to what impact your clients feel you deliver? There are some obvious answers here that might be common to many accountants’ clients. But there should also be some that are specific to you and your interactions with your clients.
Q2 Thinking about 2 or 3 of your key clients where you feel you had the most positive impact. How would they describe that impact and the difference it meant to them? Can you ask them so as to get this in their words rather than from your imagination? How might you measure and quantify this?
Q3 Check the words and phrases clients have used in testimonials, thank you messages and in Linkedin recommendations they have given you. How have delighted clients talked about the positive impact you had and the value they got from your service?
Q4 What difference would family and friends say that they can see in your clients after you have worked your magic? Are they seeing somebody calmer, more in control, more focused, more decisive, more successful? Might they even say they feel like they’ve finally got their partner, parent or spouse back?
Taking all of that into account, can you now distil the real value that clients get from engaging you as their accountant?
If you are still struggling, let me know as there are some additional techniques we could use to complete the exercise.
Those accountants who have a clearer understanding of the value they really deliver, are more confident when engaging with prospective clients. The key here though is to get beyond your own perception (and possible delusions) and instead to focus on real and genuine client perceptions of value. Also crucial here is the need to avoid your confidence coming across as arrogance.
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