This article series is in two parts: Part 1, 3 big opportunities for selling your firm’s services, and Part 2, 3 big applications for selling your firm’s services.
Value pricing, service packages and efficient automation of onboarding clients are all the rage in the profession of public accounting these days. Firm owners are feeling the necessary burden of becoming business owners instead of just technicians. If you are a firm owner, then these topics should be at the forefront of how you sell services to your clients. We’ll explore these 3 opportunities in Part 1, and then dive into the 3 applications in Part 2 of this article series.
Part 2: 3 Big applications for firm owners as they sell their services
Now that we have some background on the 3 big selling opportunities mentioned in Part 1, let’s explore how we can make sure we implement these ideals in safe and healthy ways in our firms.
#1: Value pricing
Pricing does make more economic sense for firms that want to serve the right clients well. The act of pricing can lead to higher fees in your firm. It’s wise to consider the time that value pricing will take the owners of the firm. Billing allows for clients to come into a firm rather quickly, and begin the process of serving them. But, pricing requires the sales process to move much slower, thus adding an additional burden to the firm owners – the ones who typically do the pricing in the firm.
So, before you jump on the value pricing bandwagon, consider the time it will take for you to begin pricing every single client that comes into your firm. Depending on the size of your firm, and the types of services you provide, this could become burdensome to the one performing the pricing. To make this easier, some firms only value price particular services, such as client accounting services, while still billing for other services. Similarly, some firm owners simply price services ‘en masse.’
For example, sending a letter to all individual tax clients at the end of the year, asking them all to choose a price for their return next year, is one way to price services all at the same time. However, value pricing proponents may not consider this true value pricing, as pricing is always done for each client individually. As we know, some individual tax returns are more complex and more valuable to clients than the smaller returns. Mass pricing can be more efficient, but there is a risk of missing the opportunity to capture some of the value you could have found on some of the larger individual tax clients. It’s up to you to consider how you will implement value pricing in your firm … just be wary of the time it may take.
#2: Service packages
Selling packages is a simple way to give options to a client to choose what you will do for them. One main benefit of value pricing is that you ‘price the client, not the service.’ This means that clients (the humans) are the ones that really see value in a service. Services don’t inherently have value. Your selling must be done with humans in mind. So, be careful how far you implement the selling of packages
You could go as far as putting your packages online for all clients to choose from. This is certainly one way to make value pricing more efficient. However, this is not true value pricing. Online packages don’t allow you to differentiate prices by different clients. Putting your packages online is really called fixed pricing. It is more efficient, but it won’t truly capture the largest price you can capture from each client.
Accounting firms putting their packages online is a trend taken from the software industry, where all SaaS products are now sold at a monthly price. But, unlike the software industry, we are experts and deliver our services to individuals. Technical services generally can’t be mass-produced, nor sold that way. Some firms are going too far in taking the reality of what a firm truly is to becoming an efficient machine that never talks to a human. Don’t take your packages too far. We are humans that should be selling to humans.
If you really want to value price, then price each client’s package separately, or at least give a range online as to what the client can expect. We are not the software industry, as we are technical advisors and caregivers. Let’s price accordingly.
#3: Automation of client onboarding
Alluded to above, we are service firms. That means we serve people. Humans are at the center of service-based businesses and that means service businesses will always have some friction to the service, whether it be pricing, onboarding or servicing.
Many firms are looking to hook up a few online software products to make the online clients pick a service package, sign a contract and then enter their billing details, all without ever speaking with a human. I don’t believe serious business clients with a lot of money will give their work to a firm they’ve never talked to. Remember to keep a healthy balance of efficiency online during the onboarding process, and the effectiveness of the human touch. You can’t totally automate the service of humans like retail or manufacturing companies can. Be careful not to try to automate every human touch out of your processes.
There is nothing wrong with efficiency, and value pricing firms need to leverage efficiency as much as they can. Though efficiency is a great goal, you can only gain so much by monitoring a process, applying a process and making human judgements as to how the client felt during your service to them. One consideration could be to create a lot of efficiency using online software tools, but then establish a team member in your firm that walks new clients through each step of the client onboarding process. Sure, it will take that team member’s time, but you may be investing in long-term relationships that will pay benefits to your firm for many years to come.
These 3 big applications for your firm to grow can be some of the most significant changes you’ll make in your firm. The ideas above can allow you to remain a cutting-edge firm using the right tools, and a serious service provider that brings high levels of care to the people you serve.
If you want to learn more about how my partner and I lead other firms in growing as firm owners, you can join me for a free monthly Thriveal Intro Call, where I’ll talk about the benefit of growing your firm in an entrepreneurial creative community. Register for our next Intro Call here.