Packaged Service Solutions Ease Selling
Kimberlee Dahl, Yeo & Yeo
The automation revolution is here! And, it’s transforming the way accounting firms and their clients do business. You have heard for years now … accounting firms will not survive with a hefty book of compliance clients. The need to diversify and expand advisory services is imperative for future sustainability and continued growth. Accounting firms must shift from traditional preparation services to providing valuable insight and advice for data-driven decision making.
Firms need to be alert to the future of the accounting industry and position themselves for what lies ahead. For a number of firms this means further expansion of consulting services to include the bundling of accounting, finance and consultative solutions.
“Not only is the accounting industry changing, but clients’ needs are more rapidly evolving too,” said Suzanne Lozano, principal and consulting service line leader at Yeo & Yeo.
Outsourced accounting is not a new idea. Firms have provided outsourced, scalable accounting solutions to clients for years. What changed and will continue to improve as clients’ needs evolve is the back-end technology for highly efficient and scalable service delivery and how firms position the products. Finding the right-fit technologies, dedicating a highly skilled team of professionals to centralize the workflow, determining fee structure, and piloting – it has to be right!
“Clients want to be more mobile, they want real-time data, they want advisement to help them make informed financial decisions, and they want to focus on business growth,” Lozano said. “More and more small and mid-size businesses are turning to outsourced accounting services from respected providers.”Cornering the Market
Promoting outsourced accounting and advisory services is challenging – it’s highly competitive. This requires an artfully crafted plan of traditional and digital marketing efforts.
- Sell the brand - Those in marketing need to stop selling and start branding. When solutions are packaged under a unified, identifiable brand that easily distinguishes the solutions from the firm's other services, the services are positioned as part of a strategic solution, not another commodity. The actual selling becomes easier since prospects will see that you are an extended part of their team, helping them understand their financials to make sound business decisions.
- Find a sweet spot - The target for advisory and outsourced solutions is vast. Identify a niche on which to focus. Leaning on the firm’s expertise will allow you to more quickly develop an outsourced accounting program and expand consultative services for your target buyers.
- Boost awareness - The outsourced accounting and advisory digital landscape is highly competitive. You have to pay to play. This is where tactics like a highly targeted digital campaign comes into play. Consider launching the newly branded solutions with high-level content like eBooks promoted via Google AdWords and LinkedIn. These campaigns can be facilitated by some marketing technologies, like HubSpot, making it easy to automate ongoing nurturing. For those who doubt the effectiveness of this tactic, Yeo & Yeo added more than 20 leads to the pipeline in six months, Lozano shared.
- Tap into the #1 referral source: existing clients - Clients continue to be the leading source of business for most CPA firms and chances are you are already providing many of the services. You know which clients could significantly benefit from a comprehensive, bundled package. Meeting with those clients, illustrating the benefits and added value should be a core cross selling or up-selling tactic you deploy.
“We, of course, want to expand services to our current clients, but also acquire new clients that each have unique needs,” says Lozano. “Our YeoConsults solutions are completely scalable – it’s not one size fits all.”
When using customizable outsourced accounting solutions, traditional services such as bill pay, account reconciliations, financial statement preparation, general ledger maintenance, and payroll processing are the foundation. However, the ultimate goal is to develop more intimate client relationships to create trust that may lead to selling advisory services. Including regularly scheduled management meetings in your packages provides the opportunity for CPAs to make recommendations and help clients fully understand their financials so they make informed, data-driven decisions. This helps firms sell advisory services like HR, strategic planning, succession planning, and risk management, to name a few.
Packaging the services that meet the client’s needs and goals with a clearly defined plan of what the client can expect in terms of service delivery and advisory with a fixed monthly fee puts the client’s mind at ease. They know what to expect and budget.
It’s more productive to sell a packaged brand than single commodity services. Billings can range from $800 to more than $8,000 per month depending on the size of the client and their needs. It’s a win-win for your clients and the firm.
When you can sell a suite of services that truly helps the buyer you add more revenue to the top-line but, more importantly, the package becomes easier to sell. As the industry becomes more complex, simplify what you sell and you will reap the benefits.