For some reason, the idea of sales is scary for many accountants. As natural practitioners, many feel they can’t easily transition between that and the role of a salesperson. Why is this? I believe it comes down to a misunderstanding of the term.
You won’t find me spinning a sign on the side of the road (not for work anyway), and yet, some people utilize this type of salesmanship in their sales process. These firms are not selling advisory services, they’re selling a commodity. Realize that you’re selling a service, and a valuable one at that. Let’s look at an industry parallel to illustrate this point.
In the medical field, it’s common to find advertisements for walk-in clinics or pharmacies selling over-the-counter drugs. These businesses are trying to drive volume and use price as the lever. But would you ever see a personal physician using such tactics? If you did, I bet you’d feel a little weird trusting them with your personal health. That’s because the personal physician is consulting and collaborating with you. They listen to you and they prescribe what is needed to fix your problem. And you (as the patient) get to be involved in the process.
Now apply that scenario to accounting. I know you’ve seen the costumed dancers, the refund guaranteed signs, and the rock bottom dollar price points. Is that who you want to compete with? If so, you’re in a race to the bottom. Conversely, what if instead you decide to use your talents in a consultative and collaborative role? I know what you’re thinking: “I’m not a consultant.” But aren’t you?
Forget the connotation you have in your mind. Consultant is simply defined as “a person who provides expert advice professionally.” Newsflash: that’s you! Collaboration is defined as “working together towards a common goal.” Isn’t this what you’re doing with your clients? It sure is.
Having reframed our view of sales, what does the process look like? Here are a couple of necessities:
- Asking questions
- Determining the goals of a prospect
- Providing options
- Helping someone achieve their goals
It’s relatively simple when you get down to it. And it’s much more preferable than sign-spinning.
If you want to continue the conversation, come along to a Xero Hour event this month. Meet with peers and find out how they are approaching collaborative and consultative selling. Find a Xero Hour event near you.