Most financial professionals are familiar with the “price sensitive” prospective client. You know the one: They call or email you out of the blue, and the first question they ask is, “How much do you charge?”
Some prospects truly are price sensitive, but many more are “value sensitive.” A value sensitive prospect is willing to pay for top-quality financial services, but first you have to show them the value of working with you. It can be hard to differentiate between a price sensitive and a value sensitive prospect unless you ask the right questions.
The wrong questions
Many accountants and bookkeepers focus on the wrong questions during their initial call with a prospective client. This mistake is often made even before the call, in the call intake questionnaire.
Are you asking traditional, transactional intake questions, like?
- What accounting software do you use?
- How many transactions do you have per month?
- Do you have employees? How many?
- How many bank and credit card accounts do you have?
- What is your total revenue?
If you’re asking these questions, you’re setting yourself up to be treated like a commodity. Price sensitive prospects will use these questions – and your quoted price – to determine your hourly or per-transaction rate, even if that’s not how you quote for your services. They will then compare your pricing to your competitors’ pricing and choose the lowest-priced provider.
Are you thinking, “Big deal. I don’t want the price sensitive customers, anyway!”? Then consider this: By asking these transactional questions, you’re also making it difficult for your value sensitive prospects to differentiate between you and your less-expensive competitors. And this means you are turning off – and turning away – good prospects.
The right questions
If you want your prospects to value your expertise and stop comparing you to your competitors, you must improve the questions you’re asking during your sales calls.
The right questions focus on the prospect’s history and what they want to accomplish in the future. The answers to these questions give you a better understanding of the prospect and whether you will enjoy working with them. They also let the prospect know you aren’t a typical accountant or bookkeeper. The prospect then starts to view you differently, seeing the value of what you offer…value they are willing to pay top-dollar for.
The right questions focus on the following four areas:
- Understanding their past. Once you understand where the prospect is coming from, you can start formulating a plan to help them recover from any accounting or other financial mishaps in their business.
- Learning where they are now. Knowing where the prospect is currently in their business will help you address their most immediate needs first. And when you relieve this pain quickly, your client will trust you more.
- Looking to the future. When your prospect shares their aspirations for their business with you, you can see how your relationship with them might develop over time. This can help you determine whether you want to take a risk on a prospect who might not be a good fit now but could become an ideal client with a little bit of nurturing.
- What they want from you. Every prospect has expectations of their accountant or bookkeeper. It’s important to know what these expectations are up front so you can determine whether or not you’ll be a good fit for the prospect’s needs. There’s a reason we list this area of questions last, though: Chances are, your prospect’s expectations will change as they start to realize they can’t compare you to your competition.
If you want a comprehensive look at specific questions for each of these areas of focus, check out our “Value Starts With Hello” e-book.