One of the many recurring topics in my conversations wth accountants is their approach to quoting fees. Twice in the last week I have been asked my view on fee quotes sent out by accountants I am mentoring. They are not alone. I know from my webinars and group sessions that plenty of sole practitioners are frustrated by the same issue.
In each of the most recent cases I noted that the accountants had made similar mistakes. I was able to offer constructive advice that I am sure will enable them to win more of the work they quote for in future.
Whilst I understand the reasons behind those consultants who encourage you to adopt a very structured approach to your fee quotes, I know this doesn’t appeal to everyone.
Here are the 5 most common mistakes I keep seeing:
- Focusing on the fee payable rather than on the value the client will receive (and expressing this in a way that relates to the value as required and perceived by the prospective client).
- Keeping the fee quote email/letter short and sweet. If you don’t spell things out you are reliant on the prospect’s past experiences and expectations. Do you know whether these match your style and approach?
- Failing to clarify the prospect’s reason for seeking a new accountant and what they want. If you don’t know what they value you are unlikely to make a ‘connection’ or to be able to relate your fee quote to value (as perceived by the prospect)
- Assuming that all that matters is price. That’s rarely true unless your marketing only attracts people looking for a cheaper accountant. Of course you will continue to struggle until you are able to help prospects appreciate why you are worth more than the ‘cheap’ accountant they might also approach. Do you really want to take on new clients who chose you because you were the cheapest? Chance are they will then be off somewhere (even) cheaper next year.
- Omitting to identify what you will do that many other accountants don’t do. At the headline level what you do might be the same but YOU are unique – with distinct experiences and stories you can tell about other clients you have helped in the past.
In some of my talks I reference the 4 skills that every accounting firm needs to be successful: The ability to Promote, to Pitch, to Price ands to Perform. Most accountants can do that last one. By Perform, I mean your ability to do the work. We can normally take that ability as read.
‘Promote’ refers here to your marketing activities and includes the effectiveness of your online and offline networking, profiles and website.
‘Pitch’ refers to your skill at engaging prospects 1-2-1 and helping them to appreciate that you are keen and able to provide the services they need.
The other P stands for ‘Price’. It’s not enough for your promotional activity to be attracting the right sort of leads and prospects; and for you to be engaging them effectively as you can do the work. You also need to be able to price your services promptly and fairly so that new clients ‘sign up’ asap.
I hope that you will be more successful at Pricing your services now you are aware of the 5 mistakes set out above.
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