Convincing Accounting Clients to Move the Cloud
Cloud accounting technology is transforming the way QuickBooks® consultants and accounting professionals deliver services to our clients. The technology provides the accounting professional and the client with new freedom, new ways of accessing data and a set of new options. How can we help our clients make good decisions about whether to move to cloud accounting services? Here’s a step-by-step approach you can take.
First Things First: Do You Already Have Clients in the Cloud?
If you offer QuickBooks and have clients who use QuickBooks Online, then you have clients on cloud accounting already! Are you ahead of the game and didn’t know it? Congratulations!
If you have clients committed to their desktop accounting software and data file, and insist you drive to their location, “baby steps” may be needed. Before you introduce the cloud, introduce remote access first. Try working with them using one of the popular remote access solutions, including LogMeIn, Join.Me or GoToAssist. When they see how fast you can help them, they might be hooked. Sometimes, clients are afraid they won’t be able to catch on, so simply walking them through the process can eliminate a lot of barriers to resistance.
Understanding Cloud Options
Before you can do a good job of answering client’s questions in this area, you’ll want to get some education on cloud accounting. In addition to cloud applications such as QuickBooks Online, you’ll want to understand how hosted cloud accounting solutions work and be able to explain them to clients.
You’ll also want to be able to answer questions about security. Each cloud vendor is different when it comes to security options, so you’ll want to check with the vendor so you can properly answer a client’s questions. Here is some information if your clients have questions about security with QuickBooks Online.
Find Your Top Candidates
Not every client you have will be a good fit for the cloud. Look at your list of current clients to evaluate where the value proposition might be high enough for cloud accounting. This might include clients with multiple locations that need to access their file from any one of their locations at any time. It also might include clients that would love to do their accounting from their tablet. Clients with no existing server infrastructure could be good candidates, too, as well as startups.
Plant the Seed
Arm yourself with a list of benefits of cloud accounting, and ask your top candidate clients if they would like to find out more. If they say “yes,” set up a separate meeting with them to discuss the options and explain the pros and cons. You’ll want to act more as a trusted advisor and not a salesperson in this meeting.
Here’s a list of general benefits to get you started:
- Anywhere, anytime access
- Backed up on another machine (however, you still need to do backups)
- No need to install software upgrades
- No expensive server infrastructure or labor required
- More secure than files on most client’s desktop PCs
- No need for you to transfer files back and forth anymore between client and bookkeeper and CPA and QuickBooks consultant, including the related backups, restores, YouSendIt files or whatever you use. This benefit, alone, could be the deal-maker!
- The hosting and software license fee can be paid monthly, so there’s no large initial investment. If you’re hosting a desktop and already have a license, that license can be transferred to the cloud, so that piece has already been paid for.
Add the software-specific features the client get, as well as benefits you’ve experienced, so that you will have a complete list.
To better explain how cloud accounting is different from the way your clients are doing accounting now, you may want to create a diagram or find a piece of cloud marketing collateral.
Help the client make a good decision by listing the benefits and asking the client to put a dollar value on each one. This will get the client excited about what they will be gaining by making a change. Be sure to list tangible and intangible benefits, although it might be difficult for the client to put a number on the intangibles.
Present the costs and see if the value proposition is there. Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Let the client decide whether the move is right for them and give them an idea of the steps involved. Be sure to include everything they’ll need to do and the time it will take.
Training is an important step. Even if the accounting software stays the same, there are interface issues that will be different, such as taking a backup, emailing and printing from the application, and interfacing with other applications, including Microsoft Excel, Outlook and others.
If you haven’t transitioned a client to cloud accounting yet, I’d recommend you partner with a QuickBooks consultant who has been through the ropes. Some cloud hosts and vendors offer 30-day free trials. This is a great way for those new to the cloud solutions to check them out. You can also put serious clients on a trial so they can check it out personally.
Cloud accounting is an exciting, changing area. You’ll want to stay up to date, as well as keep your clients informed of changes, especially new features, affecting their account.
Clients who place a high value on the benefits cloud accounting brings will appreciate your services and maybe even enjoy accounting just a little bit more when you move them to the cloud. The first step lies with you, and it’s as easy as bringing up the idea in your very next casual conversation with your client.