Sell Your Services on Value, NOT Price
It is all too common when putting together a new client proposal for the first thought to be, “I need to be right around or less than what they currently pay to win this client.” Does this sound familiar? When we go in to win new business, instead of thinking about what we are bringing to the table and what services we provide, we focus solely on how can we price our work to be competitive and maybe just low enough to win the business. Then, when we meet with the client and share our beautiful proposal that took time and effort away from other tasks, the potential new client decides to stick with their current accountant.
This experience can be extremely frustrating, but more than that, this mind frame is very dangerous in any industry, especially the Accounting field. Every time someone proposes to a new client with this mind frame, the cost to the client gets lower and lower until no one can actually do the work for that price. We see this entirely too often and the unfortunate result is you, the accountant, are now doing more and more work for less money when your business should be trending in the opposite direction.
This practice of proposing based on price is something that can be easily resolved when the professional changes his or her mind frame as to what they are proposing and why. In any type of sales (yes, business development is in fact sales), you will never win unless you know and can prove the value for what you are selling. In the Accounting industry, that could have many different meanings so it is important to take the time to determine what the value is that we are selling to our clients. Do you know the value that you are brining your perspective clients? Here are some examples of unique value drivers that some of our clients use to appropriately price their proposals:
Unique Value Drivers:
- Niche Product Expertise: Do you have extensive knowledge in a particular area that brings value to your perspective clients? If you are pitching to a prospect where you know that you are the industry leader in that particular area and have more in-depth knowledge that can provide them better service, this should be highlighted in your pitch. Give examples of how your expertise has saved clients money or helped them grow in ways other accountants were not based on your experience in their industry.
- Advanced Technology: Do you have advanced technology in place that helps you service your clients better. Whether this technology allows you to provide a quicker turnaround on your services or more accurate information that will help drive their business, this should be highlighted in your pitch. Technology can provide a significant advantage to time and accuracy and if your firm is investing in this unique value driver, make sure the client knows what your technology can do for their business.
- Personalized Client Service: Do you have special procedures in place to provide exceptional client service? Some firms have specific teams for each client with assigned touch points to ensure that all of the client’s needs are met at an exceptional level. If you provide access to firm staff 24/7 for answers to questions, this is a unique value driver that your client will be willing to pay more for in certain cases.
- Complete Services Package: Do you offer an array of services that can service every need of your client? This means outside of just tax or audit services, do you provide services that support their business from day to day operations to overall business management consulting. If your firm is a one stop shop for clients, this can be another unique value driver that should be highlighted on any proposal.
These are just a few examples of value that firms can provide clients that more than justify the price presented on a proposal.
The value you are selling is something that you have to decide before ever beginning to prepare a proposal. I would even argue that your value should be decided before ever determining what perspective clients to approach. The bottom line is, once you know your value, your proposal and pitch now become focused around your service and how you are going to provide value to that client. In turn, your price now becomes a factor of the services and value you are providing, not a competitive price to their current provider. As you review the services you intend to provide the perspective client and build the value that you bring to the table, you are simply providing the foundation to justify the price you propose for those services. This, in turn, becomes a much easier sell.
In the end, you should know that your knowledge and services are valuable and your time is valuable as well. The bottom line, you should never pitch based on price and undercutting the current accountant. This will only win problem clients. Do not sell yourself short and get into a battle over who can provide services at the lowest cost possible. This simply turns into a race to the bottom and this is not a race that you want to win!