3 Ways to Make Your Value Clear to Clients
Value pricing has been a hot topic among CPA firms for a while now as it enables them to focus on what clients really care about. All firms should consider adopting this approach. But while you may be able to quantify the value of what you offer clients in time, it’s crucial not to stop there. Do you know, for example, what truly matters to your clients? What they value in their relationship with you and the services you provide? While your approach to billing is important, the most critical concern for any firm should be the client’s perception of value. These three steps will help you better understand your own value, ensure that clients are aware of all that you’re worth to them and enable you to take your client relationships to a much deeper level.
- Make It Personal
It is important for clients to associate high-quality work and a strong relationship with you and your firm. If another firm promised to complete the engagement for less, would your clients run? You have to differentiate yourself from the competition in a unique way. As simple as it sounds, you should initiate regular meaningful contact with your clients throughout the year, not just when a due date is looming as many CPAs do. Establish a system or process for reaching out so that it happens methodically. Make sure clients realize you aren’t just the person who delivers only compliance work or some required paperwork, but rather the trusted business adviser they can count on.
You can radically change your client’s perception of your firm’s value when you:
- Proactively initiate contact throughout the year by calling just to “check in” on how business is going or to talk about a business development or idea you think will interest them.
- Visit their place of business often and show interest in how they do what they do. Gain a deeper understanding of their products or services and their industry. Become acquainted with others at the client’s site.
- Ask well thought out questions to deepen your knowledge of their challenges, and potential opportunities. Probe deeper to offer solutions or collaborate with them on possibilities that will demonstrate your value.
Note that digital contact works well for checking in, as long as it’s personalized. So, in addition to reminders about deadlines or requests for data, use email or texts to follow up with a question about how the client is succeeding in getting needed financing or how a new expansion has worked out. And while video conferencing is also a great way to keep in touch, it won’t replace the connection you make when you meet a client for lunch or take a tour of their facilities.
- Know What Drives Them
You can get a better sense of a small business owner’s perspective if you consider the seven key emotional issues that drive them, as described in You Are the Value: Define Your Worth, Differentiate Your CPA Firm, Own Your Market, by Leo Pusateri. They are:
- Challenges that prevent them from reaching their goals.
- Circumstances that surround events important to them.
- Concerns of interest or importance.
- Frustrations that disappoint them.
- Need for things they want or desire.
- Opportunities that will help them reach their goals.
- Problems that might stand in their way.
Understanding a client’s emotional issues will allow you to uncover opportunities to provide significant value.
- Know Yourself
To demonstrate your value to clients, you must recognize all that enables you to have a deeper connection with them. The Value Ladder, which was created by Pusateri and is described in his book, helps you identify and articulate your unique value with confidence, passion and speed. It asks you to think about how you would answer key questions for a potential client, consider what the answers say about your value and decide how to communicate that value to clients. The questions are:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Why do you do what you do?
- How do you do what you do?
- Who have you done it for?
- What makes you different?
- Why should I do business with you?
These questions seem simple, but they force you to review the knowledge, experience and value that you bring to the table so that you’re better able to talk about your own worth and the worth of what you do. You enter client situations with renewed confidence and inspire more respect for and interest in what you can do for them.
Clients know that their CPAs will provide high-quality work, but when you take the time to have an active personal interest in and genuinely care about the issues that are most important to them, you set yourself apart. Once you do, you will walk out of your clients’ offices with high-value, premium-priced work—and with a strong client relationship that you can count on for years to come.
James Metzler, CPA, CGMA, Founder, Metzler Advisory Group LLC