CPA Selling Basics
| CPA Selling Basics: There is no such thing as a natural born salesperson. Successful selling is a constant learning experience, an experience where you’ll learn as much about yourself, as you will learn about your clients.|
Before you sell anything, make sure you first know your target audience and the services you want to promote. Once you have established those two pieces, you then will be ready to develop your own unique selling proposition. Precisely defined, this entails knowing what unique characteristics about your core business services will most appeal to clients and prospective clients. This will take some time and soul searching to develop, but is worth the effort.
In developing your unique selling proposition it is important to include the CPA difference or what sets you apart from other accountants and business advisors. CPA’s have met stringent education and experience requirements, your work must be performed in accordance with high quality technical and professional standards and you must adhere to a strict code of professional ethics. Another point of difference is your membership in the AICPA or state CPA society.
CPA Selling Basics
The easiest place to increase your potential client base and sales is an area that’s overlooked the most; your existing client base. You already have credibility with your clients; use that credibility to build your business.
How can you do that? Here are three tips:
- Take a client inventory. What do you do for each client? What other needs does each client have that are not being met? Do any of your services meet those needs? What additional assistance can you provide your clients given your level of knowledge about each client?
- Ask questions and listen. Ask your clients open-ended questions that require more than a simple yes or no answer so you can learn about their goals, needs and challenges.
- Follow-up. Follow up with your clients about how you can help with their needs and assist with meeting their goals. This is the key element in sales and in customer service.
CPA Selling Basics – Getting Referrals
Your existing client base is also an excellent source for referrals. Creating and maintaining strong and active referral relationships is essential to growing your practice. If you want more business, don’t be afraid to ask for it.
The benefits of a strong referral program are numerous. First, you get to talk with prospective clients who are generally more receptive to hearing from you because of their regard for the person who referred them to you. Much of the cold calling resistance is eliminated. You also will have some knowledge about the person you are contacting. What’s more, the fact that a client has given you a referral indicates that the client is happy with your work and provided you with an endorsement.
The two most important words whenever a client provides you with a referral are thank you. Even if a prospect never becomes a client, don’t forget to say thank you to both the prospect and the person providing the referral.
CPA Selling Basics – Taking the Chill Out of Cold Calls
Few people enjoy cold calling. Fear of rejection prevents many from taking the first step. There are, however, several techniques that can take the chill out of cold calling:
- Ask yourself, “Why should this prospect listen to me”? Your unique selling proposition can be a good start. Be sure, however, to first learn as much as possible about the prospect before making the call.
- Start your conversation by focusing on the prospect’s needs and interests first. Don’t tout your service too quickly. Potential customers will listen when they realize that you understand what they want and can provide a service of real value.
- Ask permission to tour the prospect’s facilities. This serves to demonstrate your interest in the prospect, while also providing you with an opportunity to gather information first-hand.
- Use the mail if calls don’t work. If you don’t get an appointment immediately, send a note with an interesting article or offer a useful suggestion.
- Don’t send a brochure about you, or your firm, without first meeting with the person. If you do, you’ll end up giving the prospect an opportunity to make up his or her mind without having met you.
- Stay positive. Try not to take no personally. Keep a log of your rejections and review periodically to eliminate any patterns of failure.
CPA Selling Basics – Resist… Assist… Persist
As you go through the sales cycle, keep in mind that your ultimate objective is to meet your clients’ needs. To be of service you should:
- Resist the temptation to back off too early when faced with a client concern.
- Assist customers in defining their real needs. Once defined, show them how you can uniquely fill that need. Also, follow-up and follow through.
- Persist in a way that shows that you genuinely care and want to be of service. When you persist without the intention of manipulating, you convey your concern, dedication and sincerity.
CPA Selling Basics – The Sales Objective
Whether it’s a cold call, a referral, or a client you’ve known for years, it is imperative when making a sales call to have an objective. Selling is not a very complex process. It’s just difficult to do on a consistent basis. That’s why the process must begin with the setting of a pre-call objective.
If you doubt this, remember that by definition, a sales call must move systematically toward a sale. This doesn’t require elaborate planning, sometimes only a few minutes. Before making any sales pitch, be sure to answer the question, “If this call is successful, what will be the result?”
Taking the time to do this puts the selling process in motion. Before every sales call, ask yourself:
- “What am I going in here for?”
- “What is the result I’m trying to achieve?”
- “What am I going to recommend, if they give me the opportunity?”
CPA Selling Basics – Setting the Goal
Writing down your pre-call objectives will increase the focus of your efforts. Every time you go out on a sales visit, you should be focused on moving the prospect or client toward a pre-determined goal; a goal that will ultimately assist you in boosting your firms revenue.
If you find that a pre-call objective turns out to be inappropriate as your visit develops, be prepared to switch tactics. Often, this requires only a simple redirection. But it is a redirection you more than likely would not have been prepared to make if you did not start out with a pre-call objective.
Guiding a prospect or client toward your goal is an important part of planning your pre-call objective. Prepare some simple questions in advance, such as:
- If we have the expertise you need, can we set up a trial relationship for a few months?
- Would you like to speak with some clients for whom I’ve provided similar services?
- When will you (or another client decision-maker) make the final selection? How can we assist in facilitating that decision?
Remember, advance planning is vital to the success of your sales call. The simple truth in selling is that some of the most important steps are those you take before you even meet with a prospect.
CPA CPA Selling Basics
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