Sales training provides useful skills and techniques to secure predictable sales. Sales drives profitability, so essential for businesses that want to survive past the first two years and every following year. As technology improves efficiencies across compliance work in the accounting industry there is increasing focus on sales training for Accountants.
Sales experts will eagerly teach you how to win more clients using tried and true sales techniques to pitch, persuade, handle objections and close clients on the deal.
Accountants hear, “if you want to make advisory a consistent source of revenue in your business, you need to know how to ‘sell advisory’ to clients”.
So, you steeled yourself. You committed to the learning the sales process. You muscled through the sales training, feeling hopeful the end result would be a massive increase in advisory sales, a success story and a welcome boost to your revenue.
Fresh with your new sales prowess, you put your skills into practice, but as hard as you try you just can’t get comfortable using sales tactics with your clients. It feels forced, and worse, it makes you sound insincere.
After stumbling along with the process, forgetting what to say, getting lost in client tangents and not asserting yourself fully in the conversations, well…let’s be honest, after all the time it takes, you aren’t in a hurry to repeat it again with another client.
I’ve met many accountants who have committed substantial time and funds to lengthy sales training. Only to find that when it comes down to it, ‘selling’ to their clients, is a painfully uncomfortable process. In fact, they actively avoid having any sales conversations with their clients even after all the training!
All the funds they ‘invested’ in sales training hasn’t delivered the ROI they anticipated.
I’ve worked with accountants in practice for 30 years and observed many examples of well-intentioned attempts by accountants to improve their ‘sales’ skills, only to end up feeling deflated and believing they just can’t ‘sell’.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Building advisory doesn’t come down to knowing how to sell. It’s a matter of understanding yourself and using a structured process that supports your natural skills.
In this article, I’ve outlined three reasons why sales training for accountants doesn’t solve the problem of how to sell advisory and what you need to know if you want to grow advisory in your business without relying on sales tactics.
1. Successful sales conversations require you to know what you're selling
I know this sounds obvious but when you dig deeper, can you give a clear and easy to understand explanation of what your advisory services are?
It’s important to establish what advisory means to you, your firm and your clients. If you aren’t clear on the structure and benefits of your advisory package, not just the price, but what it means for the client, how can you expect clients to understand and value the benefits of what you’re ‘selling’?
For example, could you sit down with a client and explain;
- What advisory services are?
- What benefits advisory holds for them?
- How you will deliver it?
- How much it will cost?
Many accountants consider advisory services to be ad-hoc advisory services that are requested by clients when required. With this view Accountants typically aren’t confident communicating the benefit of ongoing business advisory services to clients easily.
2. Sales training assumes you are motivated to sell
This is where the accountant’s personality profile comes into play. The truth is, typically, Accountants are not motivated by sales.
Despite all the internal pep-talks, monthly budgets, targets, and income goals pushing you to sell, your personality type doesn’t get a buzz from making a sale. In fact, it is probably the very last thing you want to do. Accountants are motivated to help. Unless you’re sure advisory is the right solution for your clients, the majority of accountants will not be driven to succeed in selling advisory.
3. Sales techniques have been designed for extroverts
Do you know who are typically successful salespeople? Extroverts.
Extroverts embrace sales conversations like they were born to sell, whereas accountants tend to identify as introverts, you're more thoughtful and less inclined to enjoy being the centre of attention.
An introverted personality has a range of valuable strengths, many of which help you to be a brilliant accountant.
However, introverts and extroverts respond very differently to processing information and therefore need different approaches when it comes to sales training.
For example, extroverts tend to be lateral thinkers. They find it easy to discover solutions for their clients on the go, processing information and providing answers on the spot with ease.
Whereas introverts often think in more linear patterns and need more time to process information. Introverts prefer to have all the information first before making recommendations, and we want to know what to expect prior to a sales conversation.
Often, well-meaning sales trainers will teach their students to approach conversations with techniques that are comfortable for an assertive, extroverted personality, requiring accountants to engage in lateral thinking and on-the-spot problem-solving which doesn’t come naturally to introverts.
There’s no denying sales is essential if you want to build advisory into a consistent and valuable revenue stream in your accounting business.
However, traditional sales training doesn’t work for accountants who want to ‘sell advisory’ because:
- Sales training assumes you know what you’re selling. If clients don’t understand what your advisory package is because you can’t explain how they benefit, they won’t see the value in paying extra for it.
- Sales training assumes you’re motivated to sell which is a conflict for Accountants who are typically driven to help.
- Sales training is designed by extroverts using sales techniques that don’t embrace the natural skills of introverts. Accountants tend to be introverts which requires a methodical framework and paced approach.
Does this mean Accountants like you couldn't ever be successful with building advisory?
Not at all! If you understand your motivation to help your clients and use a repeatable advisory framework that supports your natural skills, keeps you comfortably in control, then securing ongoing business advisory clients is a predictable outcome.
If you want to learn how to build your accounting business up from compliance with ongoing business advisory services without needing a sales pitch download a copy of my book Accounting Revolution for Accountants in practice.
If you're an action taker, and you’re ready to fast track your success having structured advisory conversations with clients that lead to business improvement, register for my free Advisor Masterclass for Accountants in practice.
Lynda Steffens is the founder of the Small Business Project, author of Accounting Revolution, an Accounting industry advocate, self-confessed introvert, quintessential speaker and Accountant coach.
With 30 years' experience in the accounting industry as an Accountant, Practice Manager and business owner, Lynda coaches Accountants to have the confidence and know-how to successfully transition their business into a future-focused client-centric business advisory services model.
Lynda created The Small Business Project Advisor Intensive Programs to help Accountants in practice gain the skills and knowledge to deliver profitable, rewarding business advisory services the right way with a trusted client advisory engagement model. After just one workshop you have a repeatable, proven system and processes to implement for creating client interest and ongoing commitment to your advisory services. Complete The Small Business Project certification and you transform your business completely from a functional service into a vital business advisory resource that clients value.