If you’re still selling the way you did in 1975, you’re in big trouble. Because just as fashions and technologies change, so does the way people think and respond to the world around them. What worked then won’t necessarily work now.
In fact, the sales techniques you used twenty, even ten years ago might do your sales record more harm than good.
Sales today are built on the best tactics of yesterday. After all, selling is a science. It still boils down to a repeatable set of words, phrases and techniques, but with one essential difference: your delivery must be friendly and sincere.
Selling today emphasizes service first, and selling second.
If you’re looking to boost your CPA practice’s sales conversion rate, I’ve got your solution. It’s a straightforward, 8-step solution that is easily adopted into your firm. I encourage you to print it out, distribute it to everyone in your organization who’s involved in sales, then get the group together to practice the formula (and maybe order some pizza). Practice is key – it’s not enough to read and memorize these steps. You must practice this formula until it becomes second-nature.
Help each other. Make it a firm-wide special project.
Step 1: Build Rapport
When you first welcome a prospect into your office, engage in some light conversation; create some common ground. This could be as simple as asking, “Have any trouble finding the office?” Or remarking on the weather: “Looks like it may be clearing up out there!” If the prospect was referred to you by another client, you might refer to it: “Always great to meet a friend of Joe’s. We love his jokes around here.”
Whatever you choose to say, be sincere.
Furthermore, keep it short. People are busy, and there’s no need for a lengthy discussion.
Step 2: Probe Their Needs
Ask questions to find out what’s lacking in the relationship with their existing CPA. Why are they looking to make a change?
In my CPA practice, this helps accomplish two things:
1. It lets the prospect know that we are a different kind of CPA firm. When we agree to a meeting with a prospect, we’re actually screening them to be sure they’re the right fit for us.
2.When we get permission to ask questions and begin taking notes, we’re putting into perspective the barrage of questions that are forthcoming. (What questions? In my firm, we issue every prospect a prequalification questionnaire that helps us determine whether or not they’re the type of client we want. You can read more about our questionnaire here.)
Step 3: PowerPoint Demonstration
Once you’ve gone through your questions, then you want to “demonstrate” how you can help the prospect.
Use a PowerPoint presentation on a laptop. Alternatively, you can print out your PowerPoint slides using a high-quality color printer and clean binding.
As you go through your PowerPoint slides, be sure to circle back to the problem areas you identified by asking questions.
Here’s an important note: Never use the word “presentation” to refer to PowerPoint slides. “Presentation” sounds like a sales pitch. Instead, simply refer to them as “PowerPoint slides” or “orientation slides”.
Your PowerPoint slides should demonstrate to the client how your CPA practice is different from the rest, and how you may be able to help the prospect.
Step 4: Present Your Fees
Next, present your fee structure. You can view my pricing analysis sheet in the “members only” section at www.CPAMarketingGenius.com.
Step 5: Handle Objections & Concerns
When a prospect “objects”, what they’re really saying is, “You haven’t sold me yet on why I should hire you.”
Common objections you might hear:
- “Your fees are too high.”
- “Will this require a lot of my time?”
- “I think I’ll just wait to finish the year.”
- “Do I really need all these services?”
- “I want to think about it.”
When a prospect objects, the first thing to do is listen. DO NOT try to jump in at the beginning – this may cause further objections. When you interrupt them, you’re objecting to their objection. And if you refuse to listen, their next steps may well be towards the exit.
Use active listening methods, like nodding, looking at the client, and leaning forward to show interest.
Your second step in the face of an objection? Try to clarify the objection. For example:
- “Tell me more about…”
- “So what you’re telling me is…”
Your third step is to simply answer the objection.
And finally, check to se if your first three steps worked! For example:
- “Have I answered all your questions?”
- “Do you have any other concerns?”
As necessary, handle any outstanding objections.
Step 6: Service Agreement and Payment
Once you’ve overcome the prospect’s objections, go over the service agreement and payment briefly.
Step 7: Talk About Accountant Dismissal
It’s important to help your client think through this. For example:
“Let me ask you, Mr. Prospect: how are you going to handle the dismissal of your current client?”
Step 8: Head Off Buyer’s Remorse
You don’t want your client walking away and feeling buyer’s remorse. An easy way to prevent that is to stay in touch.
In my practice, I let the new client know that my firm administrator will be calling him or her within 48 hours to discuss retrieval of paperwork.
Read the 8 steps. Get to know them. Share them with your team. Practice with one another, and watch your sales conversion rate go through the roof.
Now: what’s the first thing you’ll do to pass this information along to your team?
Want to immunize your CPA practice against recession? Join me for a powerful two-day event in Elizabeth, New Jersey on October 27th & 28th, 2012. Learn more and register here.