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Accounting service prospecting: How they receive and understand the message you send out

Accounting service marketing: Getting your message acrossHow can you find potential clients for your firm when business owners don't seem to be AT ALL interested in Accounting services?

And how can you get ACROSS the benefits and high quality of your service when they don't seem to CARE one way or another?

WHY are they so disinterested? WHY don't they care?

These mysteries of Accounting services marketing baffle us.

The good news is that the cause behind these mysteries has been found out. After researching this for three years, after interviewing tens of thousands of business owners on the subject of Accounting services — and how they FEEL about Accountants, finances, and so on — the cause has been finally established.

 

The viewpoint from which business owners look at Accounting services

I know you've worked hard to develop ways of explaining the benefits of your services. I know you've probably spent many nights composing messages in order to make the value of your services understood by business owners.

But the problem is that when this message reaches business owners, they look at it from a very different viewpoint than what you intended.

People have a lot of preconceptions about things. We all have them about many subjects.

Let me illustrate this by asking you a few questions:

When a salesman explains the virtue of whatever he is selling, are you really listening to what he says without ANY doubts, reservations or preconceptions?

When a used-car salesman extols the excellence of a second-hand car, do you take his staments at face value?

When someone applies for a position in your firm, do you accept his merits and claims exactly as he presents them?

Of course you don't.

You have previous EXPERIENCES about these persons and these types of situations. You've also heard all kinds of STORIES about these from friends and media.

You have DATA and KNOWLEDGE about these people and situations... and you USE this data to MODIFY what they say.

When you talk to a salesman, you FILTER all that he says with preconceptions of your own, which may include concepts such as...

- "salesmen only bring forth the positive aspects of whatever they're selling (and tend to ‘forget' those facts that might make the purchase less inviting for you)..."
- "the legal written contract / bill of sale is the only thing that really BINDS the organisation that the salesman is representing. The salesman can basically SAY ANYTHING and, as long as it's not written in the contract, there's no way it would obligate the organisation..."
- "most (or all) salesmen are prone to telling half truths or untruths...

...and so on. Buyer beware, in other words.

Now, I'm not saying that the above generalisations are the most predominant ones around or that you think that way.

But I'm sure we agree on that this type of preconceptions about salesmen EXIST and are quite common among people.

In our society, it's practically impossible NOT to have some negative preconceptions about salesmen, don't you agree?

Just think how many times we've been the target of a sales pitch. How can we not form preconceptions, with so many experiences and considering how inept, aggressive, ill-mannered and downright RUDE many salesmen are?

Or take someone applying for a well-paid position in your firm. If you have hired and fired a few employees, no doubt you don't ever accept the applicants' self-presentations at face value.

After all, they're trying to get onto your generous payroll by selling themselves by WORDS... and, once you've hired them, they get their pay regardless of whether you get anything in exchange for it.

Believe it or not, a lot of applicants simply HOPE they can convince the employer to hire them so they could "see how the job goes"... as if LUCK was the primary factor governing their future success in KEEPING the job.

Everyone has preconceptions about things. Whether consciously or unawares, we create preconceptions about things that give us unpleasant experiences.

And it works the other way too:

Every profession and line of business has accumulated many preconceptions in the minds of their clienteles.

Now, whoever HAS a preconception about something will automatically assign a very high truth-value to that viewpoint. To that person it is TRUE.

Whether or not it is OBJECTIVELY true is another matter. I'm not going to open that can of worms here or elsewhere. However, we can easily deduct that the person OF WHOM the preconception has been formed is likely to DISAGREE with its contents.

Salesmen don't, as a rule, consider themselves to be untruthful or deceitful, for instance.

All right.

Now, Accounting services are about the most widely-used line of services business owners use overall. I'm not talking about the frequency of use day to day but the fact that every single business must keep books and they predominantly leave this to an Accounting firm.

Therefore, there are many preconceptions about Accountants and their services among business owners. We've surveyed these preconceptions for years and a full survey report is found in Part 1 of Modern Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course.

Some preconceptions are more predominant then others.

Now, in this article, I want to let you in on two preconceptions that have tremendous weight and importance in regards to your marketing and sales:

1.

Practically every business owner we've interviewed thinks that Accounting services are IDENTICAL firm to firm.

In other words, they see no difference between the services of Accounting firms. In their view, one is just as good or bad as the other...

   
2.

Business owners believe that CHANGING Accountants will be difficult, time-consuming, costly and RISKY. Additionally, they fear the embarrassment of having to terminate the contract with their longtime Accountant whom they've befriended over the years.

Yet, they also fear that the Accountant would punish them for leaving by making the transfer awkward and slow and possibly even charging more so they end up paying double for the transition period.

Additionally, there's this preconception that it takes MONTHS to "learn to speak the same language" with a new Accountant in terms of briefing him on the specifics of the company and learning to work together.

Add to all this the fact that business owners have neither the familiarity nor the expertise required to actually EVALUATE the skills of the new Accountant to be... which opens the possibility that the new one might well be WORSE than the one they're leaving...

By the way, don't waste your energy trying to find LOGIC in these preconceptions. These are FEELINGS substituting actual expertise in Accounting, so logic doesn't really enter the equation.

People act on their "gut feelings" and "sixth senses" when making decisions in a subject on which they don't really have any in-depth knowledge or expertise.

Making a decision mainly on feelings has many names — premonition, intuition, instinct, hunch, impulse, good judge of character, or even genius.

Whatever the name, it's principal characteristic is that it is NOT based on thorough analysis by someone with sufficient expertise and experience to make an informed decision.

Good. Now, with these points 1 and 2 we finally get to the cause of the mystery of disinterest toward changing Accountants... or, in fact, even LISTENING to what you're trying to communicate to business owners:

With so many risk and additional work/costs involved WITH changing Accountants and yet so absolutely NOTHING to be GAINED by it... why would business owners bother listening to what you have to say?

That's THEIR viewpoint, mind you, not mine. But you can see how THEY receive your message... and why your marketing efforts will mainly fall in barren ground:

They don't believe your service is any different!

Try as you may, there's no way to convince business owners that YOUR compliance services are BETTER than those he is currently receiving from his Accountant.

In fact, you only have about a couple of seconds to make a DIFFERENCE before their ears and minds shut down automatically. See, they've PLACED you into a category for which they already have a preconception... and that concept fills in the rest, even REPLYING automatically.

When you call a business owner, this is the predetermined thinking pattern the second he hears you're an Accountant offering your services:

"Oh, he is offering Accounting services... well, I already HAVE an Accountant. All Accountants and Accounting services are the same, so no point in wasting my time listening since I have nothing to gain by changing Accountants..."

And OUT comes the automatic response which he KNOWS will make you give up immediately:

"We're really fully satisfied with our current Accountant, thank you..."

IS he really satisfied with what he receives from his current Accountant? Well, surveys show otherwise... in fact 85% of business are not fully satisfied.

But see... he isn't really answering the question "Are you satisfied" but, instead, executing a powerful "get-rid-of-him-fast" -repellant... he is giving you the one poison that'll wither your enthusiasm immediately.

There's nothing you can do after he has said that he is fully satisfied. So, he says it just to get rid of you.

In HIS mind — remember the preconceptions? — there's no point in discussing his dissatisfaction on his current Accountant's services because YOURS are "just the same."

If he's been around for a while, he may also know that the CURRENT Accountant let on to be better than the previous one... and wasn't.

So he has NO illusions about any Accountant ever having anything better than what he is currently receiving. And he KNOWS it would cost him dearly to change Accountants.

End of conversation: "Don't call us, we'll call you..."

Earplugs.

What you tell them and what they HEAR are two very different things!

Now, to solve this seemingly hopeless impasse you need two things.


A. Get a service that IS clearly different in that it offers what they WANT

The way you can make a difference in what you offer is by

- KNOWING what business owners really WANT (but aren't getting) from their Accountants... and
- PACKAGING your basic service so it INCLUDES these elements... and
- SPEARHEADING your service presentation with these highly desirable elements.

Basically this means a service whose contents and appearance are highly desirable to business owners as THEY SEE IT:

You're offering something they want but CAN'T GET from their current Accountant.

It means that your services are positively DIFFERENT from everyone else's. The service INCLUDES compliance services but it FRONTS with what business owners really WANT, see?

If you start new clients only on compliance services, how could there be much difference even if viewed by an Accounting professional let alone seen through the eyes of business owners who don't have the expertise to notice the differences?

The simplest of all solutions is to GET a service that's different... positively so.

Since the problem is with having "identical" service then get one that clearly ISN'T "the same!"

Now, we have just such a service included in Modern Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course. It's called Monthly Financial Consulting Service (but you can call it anything you like, of course) and it is based on the researched wishes and needs of business owners. CLICK HERE to read about this unique service Monthly Financial Consulting Service!

We also offer a wide range of THEME SEMINARS which will help clarify what's at stake in marketing and why the message is so vital.

If you prefer to start from scratch and create your own special basic service, there's a separate article on packaging of Accounting services on this site and you'll find a link to it at the end of this page.

Having a highly desirable basic service to offer makes all the difference. Automatically, it puts you on a stellar level in competing for the attention and business of companies in your area!

But there's still the problem of "earplugs," which brings us to the second part of the solution.

 

B. Get a message that totally avoids contradicting his viewpoints (and all traditional marketing & sales approaches)

Once you HAVE a service that's positively different there's still one more problem. That's COMMUNICATING the existence, benefits and qualities of this service to business owners so they LISTEN and UNDERSTAND what you say.

It's a sizeable problem because those "instant earplugs" go on the second he hears you're an Accountant offering his services.

So we need a very clever approach to avoid that instant "la-la-la I'm not listening" reaction AND to ensure their preconceptions aren't CHANGING our message.

For the first, the approach needs to be something fresh and new — something he won't recognise immediately as marketing or selling. The tools for this are within Modern Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course and there are articles on this site about these so I won't go into that here.

For the second, you need to ensure that you ONLY forward THEIR viewpoint on everything you say (for the first contacts).

Part of the problem comes from the fact that people believe in thinking with "opposites."

In our world, everything is drawn into a confrontational model in which there are two parties with totally opposite goals, characteristics, opinions and so on.

Husband and wife. Man and woman. Salesman and client. The government and opposition. Employers and employees.

You get the idea. It's an endless list of "opponents."

Of course, the husband is no enemy of his wife, quite the contrary. A woman is not the opposite of a man. The true interests of both the salesman and his client are ALIGNED, not different.

Political parties are composed of career politicians who have lots in common. They all claim to save the nation and only argue about the correct WAY to achieve the same goal.

And both employer and employees prosper when the company succeeds... and lose when it doesn't.

All through the ages, there have been many in whose interests it is to create such opposite divisions. Money and power can also be achieved by creating controversy. The media does exactly that and bankrolls billions every week for it.

On top of our daily portion of controversy delivered by the media, we enjoy the dramatizations of soap operas and big screen films... all of which are full of people whose social skills are strangely lacking so that they're on a continuous roller-coaster from one controversy to another.

Whether we've learned it from the TV or have it innately, Man is prone to viewing things in light of opposite polarities.

It's a dog-eat-dog world, supposedly, where the interests of two parties in any cooperation are easily presumed opposing.

This thinking seeps into preconceptions of people, taking direct control over their reactions to communication:

The MOMENT a business owner perceives you driving YOUR interests or bringing forth a viewpoint that's YOURS (and not HIS), he reacts to it with surprisingly strong rejection.

The solution is to position yourself NOT as his opposite but as his ally. Your message needs to be written as BY HIM:

It needs to take HIS viewpoint so that he CAN'T disagree with it.

You need to talk about HIS reality of existence in doing his job the way HE would explain it... not the way YOU would explain it and definitely not the way you SEE it.

Your view is likely to be more accurate. But he doesn't know you and he isn't prepared to ACCEPT your view — it would only break down the communication, see?

Once he has SIGNED ON and you've gained his TRUST... well, then it's another matter, of course and that's where you'll have to his attention things he'd rather not look at.

But you must avoid all that during the prospecting, presentation and sign-on phases of client-acquisition.

Here, the message has to convey his view of things down to the exact WORDS and concepts that he uses when speaking of these situations, goals, problems and solutions.

You make your message affirmation of his views to the extent that, to him, it feels as if HE had stated it. You use his views, words, realities and reasoning in your promotion and presentation.

See. He isn't going to disagree with himself, is he now?

Essentially, the human behaviour dictates to a person that he is RIGHT about things. In other words, a person will instinctively believe that his own views on a subject — his opinions, evaluations, experiences, understanding — is the ultimate TRUTH in that matter.

And the innate reaction to anyone telling him what he should think or do is to conclude they're WRONG... and that's the end of that. That's the unavoidable end result of TRADITIONAL Accounting service marketing messages as these are BASED on "new ideas" on how to tell the target audience what they should think and do.

And that's why traditional marketing of Accounting services brings little or no results.

In order to GET results you need something that WORKS.

In order to get your message read and understood you need to START from the reality of the recipient. That is also the way to creating INTEREST.

So, how do you do that?

Well, there are two ways.

The hard way is to study market research and then survey a few hundred business owners to find out their views on Accounting, finance, management... and their fears, hopes, likes and dislikes about Accountants and taxation... and the specific words and concepts that they use in verbalising these.

Then you start creating a chain of messages and, through trial and error, find each effective part of each message and put it all together into a SEQUENCE of messages that finally produces the wanted results.

Having done all of the above, I can tell you that it's doable. Only problem is that it takes a few years of hard working on full-time basis.

Which brings us to the easy way to get all this:

All this is included in Modern Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course in form of ready-to-use tools (such as direct mailing letters, interviews, forms, presentation kits, etc.) along with detailed instructions of use as well as the combined experiences of practitioners who used the system for three years in our pilot programme... so you'll know how to troubleshoot each tool if you experience any problems.

And, since you can get started at a cost comparable to Sunday lunch, it might be the quicker and affordable alternative.

CLICK HERE to read the introduction of Modern Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course!

CLICK HERE to read about packaging your services!

Best wishes,

Harry Kafka
HDK Consultants U.S.A. Inc.
PMB 211, 411 Cleveland Str.
Clearwater, FL 33755, U.S.A.
Phone (727) 474 1206
Calls from outside USA: +1 727 474 1206
CONTACT FORM


Practice Management Articles

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A small Accounting firm has some very speficic requisites for any marketing system. Otherwise, you're playing with the very survival of your practice.

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CLICK HERE to learn how to evaluate your needs for an Accounting service marketing system!

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CLICK HERE to test how ready your firm is for healthy expansion at this moment!

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Knowing the anatomy of this insidious trap (and knowing how to get out of it) is probably the most vital piece of knowledge for unleashing your true potential in acquiring new clients at will.

CLICK HERE to learn the biggest trap stopping accountancy client acquisition... and how to guarantee it won't stop you from obtaining accounting clients at will!

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CLICK HERE to read an article that will forever change the way you think about marketing Accounting services.

You don't want to increase the NUMBER of Accounting clients but REPLACE a few with BETTER paying & more cooperative ones?

Sometimes the idea of increasing the number of clients isn't appealing for obvious reasons. Not everyone wants to expand through a vast clientele and take on the hassles of employing many people. A sole practitioner who's been in practice for a while usually has TOO many clients already... and too much hassle. The old 80/20 rule (20% of clients cause 80% of the hassle but not of the income) can be beaten but it takes a bit of cunning.

CLICK HERE to read how to start changing the profile of your clientele so that you get more of those profitable and cooperative Accounting clients and can replace the bad ones!

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Many Accounting Professionals have superb additional services to offer to their clients. But why are those added-value Accounting services, special consulting, valuation and other such excellent services so difficult to sell?

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CLICK HERE to read the full article on solving the riddle of getting advanced Accounting services sold.

How to sell Accounting services: Getting your hourly rates accepted by prospective clients

Majority of business owners seek for low-cost Accounting services. Justifying reasonable hourly rates is a constant pain and source of disagreements.

There is a simple way to help your prospects and clients accept your fees...

CLICK HERE to read on pricing of Accounting services and achieving acceptance the fees.

Do you want to get a lot more REFERRALS for accounting services?

Referrals are the cream of all potential clients for an Accounting firm. They're easy to deal with and you can close almost all of them onto your services.

But why are they so hard to find? And how do you INCREASE the flow of referrals?

CLICK HERE to learn the six factors governing the flow of referrals for Accounting services!

-Accounting Firm Prospecting System Evaluation Points-

Does it have correct Approach in Prospecting for Accounting clients?

Does the prospecting system have a planned and tested route
from contact to sign-on to follow?

Does the prospecting system have ENOUGH of what it takes
to really GET results?

Does the prospecting system include a systematised method
with TOOLS that require no training to use?

Does the prospecting system allow for constant marketing outflow
& sales activity of practical nature?

Does the marketing system include a way to monitor results
and troubleshoot problems?

Does the marketing system put you in control and give full
independence to obtain new Accounting clients wherever you want?

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