Part of my work at Boomer Consulting, Inc. involves working with vendors who want to market their products and services to CPA firms. A common issue for these vendors is how to teach their sales teams to talk to accounting firms. After all, salespeople and accountants rarely occupy the same space. It can be difficult for salespeople to talk the talk of a CPA in a way that garners their attention and respect. Here, I’ve outlined a few ways your sales team can learn to do just that.
It’s Not About Selling, It’s About Solving
Whether you are selling to an accounting firm or an individual consumer, sales are about solving a problem. Your first task is to figure out what problem you are trying to solve. Work to understand the real nature of a firm’s problem and how your product or service can solve that problem.
Be careful not to mistake a symptom for the problem. For example, let’s say you are selling software that assists accounting firms with billing. The firm you are speaking to has a problem: billing is a time-consuming and lengthy chore. Digging deeper, you discover that the managing partner of the firm insists on personally reviewing and approving every invoice before it is sent out. This is not a software problem, it’s a process problem. No software in the world will solve their problem.
When you do have the right solution, remember that you are speaking to financial professionals. While you should have a thorough understanding of the economics of your solution, selling to financial professionals is about understanding the real nature of their problem and showing them how you can solve it. Don’t spend too much time trying to demonstrate the economics of the situation. They will usually figure out those aspects of the deal on their own.
Know Who to Talk To
One of the most important aspects of selling to accounting firms is knowing who to talk to. This will vary based on the product or service you are selling. Too often, a sales person just calls the front desk and asks to speak to the person in charge of XYZ. When your call is invariably transferred to the wrong person, you are unlikely to be rerouted to the correct contact.
Do your research ahead of time. The person you need to speak to may be the Managing Partner, it may be the IT Director, or it might be the Director of HR. Consider who in the firm would have the problem you want to solve and would be a willing audience to listen to your solution. Search LinkedIn or the firm’s website to find the name and contact information for the person you need to speak to. A little time spent researching before making a call can save time barking up the wrong tree later.
Know When To Make Contact & When To Follow Up
Accounting is a deadline-driven profession so it’s imperative that your sales team knows when the deadlines hit, as it’s unlikely that they’ll find a receptive audience if they reach out during peak busy periods. Consider the type of services your target firm provides and who you are speaking to within the firm. Tax professionals will not have time for sales calls from January through April 15th and leading up to the September 15th and October 15th deadlines. Payroll professionals will have short attention spans when they are buried in quarterly payroll tax returns. Navigate the quiet times between deadlines to find a receptive audience.
Connect With Peer Groups
It can be difficult for salespeople with no experience in the accounting industry to know what accounting firms want and need. Connecting to them through a peer group can help you bridge that gap. The Boomer Technology Circles bring firm and IT leadership together with sponsors that can bring strategic partnerships to our members. Attending summits and meetings with these peer groups gives sales people a unique insight into the problems that keep accounting firm leaders up at night.
If your sales team has not worked with accounting firms before, even the most experienced salesperson can be intimidated working with these analytical professionals. Selling to accounting firms requires plenty of training and lots of research. Just remember, at the end of the day, CPAs are just people, too.
by Megan Schottler
Boomer Consulting, Inc.