The Top Challenges
In the May, 2016 CommBank Accounting Market Pulse report, on page 5 it notes one of the Top 3 Business Challenges for Accounting Firms is “Negotiating Price with Clients”. Interestingly, one of the 2 other Challenges is said to be “Collecting Invoices” refer https://www.commbank.com.au/corporate/industries/professional-services/accounting/marketpulse.html?ei=gsa_generic_accounting-market-pulse
If this is such a big issue, what are firms doing about it? What courses are undertaken, what in house training is provided, mentoring, role plays, etc? There is plenty of publically available training material and products to assist with Improving Processes, Engaging New Clients, Social Media and Staffing. For partners, directors and staff battling specifically with Negotiating Prices, help is often missing.
A starting point to improve your skills can be to read a well written and useful book. I recall some years ago a smart practitioner told me about David W Cottle’s “Bill What You’re Worth”. Great title. As with some other clever books, to some extent the message is contained in the title, I am also thinking of “What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There”, “The Knowing Doing Gap”, “Selling the Invisible”.
Find out what business savvy accountants are doing. Amongst the many stories I can recount, I recall the practitioner who, when he signed an audit report, insisted on signing in front of the client. Then he would say, “When I sign this, my house is one the line”. Suddenly the significance of the audit is emphasised, the risk involved is realised and any argy bargy about the fee becomes less possible, indeed almost offensive.
Another practitioner said (and still says?) to potential clients, “for someone like you with a business like this, the assistance we provide is ….. and our fee is $???, payable monthly. Potential clients are not offered a lot of options. Otherwise, it can make you seem unsure. Rather, this statement reinforces your experience with situations similar to the client’s and your understanding of the appropriate amount to charge.
Have the Responses Ready
David Cottle writes of a conversation where a client said “Your fee is too high”. So David looked the client in the eye and said “Why do you think the price is too high”. In this case, after some time the client responded “It just seems too high”. So David replied “Well it’s not”. End of story. Message to accountants, avoid being defensive.
Next month I will have other ideas on the major challenge of “Negotiating Prices”.
Thea Foster, Added Value Corporation. Email email@example.com
- If “Negotiating Price with Clients” Is a Challenge: What are you doing about it? - 16 June 2016
- When Is It Too Late To Sell? - 19 April 2016
- 3 More Misconceptions on Accounting Practice Ownership Changes - 17 March 2016