Communicating Value to Clients
A pencil is not just a pencil. It’s an idea saver.
A car is not just a car. It’s a driving experience.
A mint is not just a mint. It’s a breath freshener.
The words we use to describe an item can transform it from an everyday object to an exciting solution. The same is true about describing your accounting firm. The way we describe what we do, and why we do it, changes the perception our clients have of who we are. This is true from the moment they first connect with us on social media or our website, to our office (if we have one), our staff, and even our proposal and processes. We have to think about the “experience” our clients have with us, and the impression we give them from their first encounter and throughout our time together. All of this communicates thoughtfulness, intentionality and value.
Many times, we read and hear about communicating our “value proposition” and our eyes glaze over, but the concept sounds more complicated than it is. Value proposition simply means that instead of emphasizing the services that you offer, you emphasize the solution your service provides. It may seem like a subtle difference, but it can mean the world to your client.
What does value proposition language sound like?
If a client is thinking of bringing on a full-time employee to do bookkeeping, but they are worried about paying another full-time salary instead of saying “I can do your bookkeeping,” you can say, “I can save you money by taking on your monthly accounting services.”
If your client is nervous that they didn’t plan correctly for their taxes, instead of saying “I can file your taxes for you,” you can say, “Taxes are complicated. I can tell you are concerned about them. You can depend on my tax planning services so that you don’t have to worry. I’ll make sure you are in compliance and also help you find ways to minimize your taxes this year, and plan for next year.”
Your client feels like they don’t have enough time to get new business for themselves. Then. you find out that they are spending their own time doing payroll. Instead of saying “I can do your payroll,” you can say, “I can save you lots of time by taking on the responsibility of doing your payroll. Then, you can be free to focus on getting new customers.”
Can you hear the difference?
Your Value Proposition is also in the “unsaid” things your firm does:
- Does your website look like a traditional firm, full of words and stock photos? Perhaps, you should consider having a client video front and center on your website, highlighting how you helped to transform their business.
- Are your proposals/engagement letters printed out on paper, if you have them at all? Perhaps, you should send them digitally.
- Do you talk more about your firm than your clients’ pain points on social media? You don’t have to “say” your firm is an expert on a particular topic – just writing a short article about it communicates that, and provides value to your client at the same time.
- Does your firm’s processes still seem a bit “old school” by accepting paper documents for tax returns? Offer a webinar to teach your clients to snap a picture (or scan or email) to upload it to a secure online storage location.
- Are clients still telling you how they want you to process their after-the-fact accounting? Perhaps, you highlight in a newsletter how a client saved time and money by moving to the cloud AND receiving real-time, actionable information to grow their business. (Or, tell how your own firm transformed as YOU moved to the cloud!)
Communicating your value proposition only works if you are aware of the real pain points of your clients. You can find this out by spending time asking open-ended questions about your client’s business. Don’t just ask about the numbers or the accounting and bookkeeping processes. Ask about their goals, their desires and their day-to-day operation. Listen for what problems your client is having. Do some creative thinking about how you can communicate your solution to their problems, even incorporating your client’s own words into the value proposition.
You are an accounting professional. A problem solver. A trusted resource. A guide. Be confident in communicating your true value to your client through value proposition language and through their overall experience with your firm. This will help attract the types of clients that you want to work with – ones that truly see the value in working with you!