Proposing Your Services to Move Clients to QuickBooks Online

Having the conversation with your clients to move them to QuickBooks Online (QBO) is just part of the onboarding process; you’ll also have to make some key changes in your own practice, which begins with switching to a cloud-based practice.

Moving to the cloud or working more in the cloud than you already are says a lot about how you do business. Automation is king, which means less keyboard time and, ultimately, fewer billable hours. We have to rethink how we calculate our prices and propose our services to prospective clients.

Step 1: Identify the need.

Let’s start by discussing why the client is looking for you. In most cases, business owners and their staff will contact an accounting professional because there is a problem beyond their ability. Basically, there is a pain point. It could be they don’t understand the software, don’t have any accounting basics, are running behind, or they just want to run their business and leave the accounting to the professionals.

During your initial consultation – which could very well be on the phone or through web meeting software like the one we use, Zoom.us – we need to find out what this pain point is. I find that during the first 10 or 15 minutes of most of our consultations, clients simply vent about their frustrations. I listen and take notes. Once they finish telling me the issues they are having, I use a checklist to gain further insight into the issues and begin shaping my proposal.

What is going on now?

  • In addition, ask, “What are your bottlenecks?”

  • Probe a bit more by asking, “Are there any other inefficiencies?”

Step 2: Understand the goals.

After this short interview, we should have a good idea of the software in play, the client’s experience and, of course, frustrations. Now it’s time to change the conversation and help them see there is hope. Ask this question: “If all the issues you’ve mentioned were gone, what would open up for you?” Then ask the additional questions below.

  • What is the dream?

  • How would you like to spend your work day?  

  • What do you want to achieve in the next:

    • 30 days

    • 180 days

    • 360 days

    • 2 years

    • 5 years

You would be surprised about how many of your new clients have not asked themselves these questions. Getting the conversation turned to the “dream” helps them realize there is someone out there who can help. You have given them hope, and the new cloud model has shifted our role in the relationship with our clients. We are no longer data processing machines. Because of automation and online access, our time is now freed up to be their collaborator and work as part of their team.

Now that there is hope in the conversation, let’s get you paid for all the value you have already given them.

Step 3: Determine the value.

Believe it or not, hope has value. Relieving stress and other burdens from our clients’ work day has value – and value is the new way of pricing our services. But, keeping track of your time by hour or minute is so easy, right? Why do we have to change?

If we become more efficient using apps and automation, our billable time decreases and we make less money; nobody wants that. However, let's work less and keep our earnings where they are or even grow them. Work smarter, not harder.

How do we measure our value? Here are some really great resources on this topic. I have to admit it took me awhile to wrap my head around this one. Once I finally learned, it became easy and I will never go back. Take a look at these resources.

Step 4: Create the options.

Option 1: We do the work. During the meeting, you may have already established that the client would like to be hands off. This means we will take on the entire scope of work.

Option 2: Client does the work. In some cases the client just needs a little push in the right direction. Coaching the client through their daily workflows is very beneficial. They learn it once and repeat their processes.

Option 3: Team effort. Some clients like to stay involved in their accounting on a certain level, so figure out what they want to continue managing. Make sure they are good at it and coached properly through their workflows, and then you can take on the rest.

Giving them options helps them feel in control right away and they are part of the solution. Plus, they usually choose what I would have recommended anyway.

Step 5: Select the software.

An important thing to consider is what software your clients need. It could be that during the conversation, you establish that there might be a better software that could solve an issue or two. Below is a snapshot of the features in all editions of QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Self-Employed. Remember QuickBooks Payroll and QuickBooks Payments are add-ons built right into QBO and can be added with a couple of clicks. Sometimes the right solution makes all the difference.

This is a snapshot of the checklist--only a partial list of features is shown below:

In other cases, QuickBooks Online may not solve for every issue the client has, so it’s QuickBooks Apps to the rescue. These apps can integrate with QBO and provide not only accounting solutions, but also industry-specific and other solutions. Here are a few that might make your day and your client’s day a lot easier. You can locate hundreds of amazing apps on Apps.com, or by directly clicking the Apps tab from within QuickBooks Online Accountant.

Step 6: Present the proposal.

We’ve given the client hope for a better, more efficient way of managing their finances and suggested ways to improve some efficiencies beyond accounting. Wow, what an amazing solution provider you have become! Now, let’s engage your new client.

Intuit has some great sample engagement letters you can download and modify for your purposes.

Or, you could use an app such as Practice Ignition. This app has engagement letter, too, but takes this step to a whole other level. Practice Ignition syncs your QBO Product Service list and allows you to manage all your contracts in one location. You can email your proposal, the client e-signs and, instantly, an invoice is posted in your QBO. Amazing. Practice Ignition will also remind you of expiring engagements so you can renew them quickly and easily.

I hope you now have your next steps for engaging your QBO clients. Congratulate yourself on embracing this new age of accounting. Our time is precious and we should use our cloud accounting tools to improve our client’s workday—and also our own.

Welcome to the cloud!