Advisory Services part 2
Advisory Part 2 Vertical

Guide to increasing revenue with advisory, Part 2

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In the “Guide to increasing revenue with advisory: Part 1,” I describe how to choose the advisory services you want to offer and how to land on a pricing strategy that works. In part 2, it’s time to think about marketing and selling your services to existing and potential clients. 

If the idea of “selling” your services makes you feel a bit uneasy, you’re not alone! Many accountants and tax professionals shy away from the idea. As a result, I’ll show you how to embrace the mindset, and share a simple step-by-step scoping process that you can put to work with prospective clients straight away.

No one has time for repetitive admin work, so I’ll also show you how to use automation to streamline your processes, from proposals and engagement letters, to getting paid on time, every time. 

Starting the sale

Key takeaways:

  • Soft launch your advisory services to select clients first, so you can iron out any issues.
  • Sell your advisory services using a two-step process for your scoping session, and a proposal that includes the all-important letter of engagement.
  • With Ignition, you can create impressive online proposals and automated engagement letters that make it simple to engage clients, get paid, and run your firm on autopilot.

Before starting to sell a new service to your client base, consider soft launching it first. That way you can gather data and iron out any bugs before rolling out the service more broadly, and clients may also sign up for the new service once the trial ends.

As part of your soft launch, include one or more testimonials and case studies in marketing emails. Most of the time, your business clients will be delighted to provide a testimonial or participate in a case study because it’s free advertising for their business and they know how important social proof is, and have probably made similar requests of their own customers. You can make the process easier for all parties involved by systematizing and automating it.  

It’s time to get into the sales mindset

Many accountants struggle with the sales process. They didn’t get in the business to be sales people but they may now find themselves working in sales to rein in work for their firm. To understand the sale process better and get into the right mindset, I suggest reading Blair Enns’ book “The Win Without Pitching Manifesto.”

Set up your sales workflow

You’re likely to have already defined your niche; a standardized sales process will now identify if the client:

  • Is a good fit for your firm.
  • Aligns with who you serve (your niche) or the services you provide.
  • Values your work; isn’t focused mainly on price rather than valuing your expertise.
  • Truly knows what they want; sometimes. the client doesn’t know, so a discovery process is needed to find out or to gather more information.
  • Has agreed to a defined scope; more on this next).

Use a two-step scoping process to understand client needs 

Step 1: Arrange a scoping session

Scoping is your secret weapon. By holding a detailed session with your client, you can precisely determine a their goals, business’ context, and unique circumstances, plus what sort of advice they’re looking for you to provide.

Scoping needs to become a well-integrated part of your firm’s workflow, especially when providing advisory services. A detailed scoping session will allow you to provide better advice that makes a lasting impact on your clients’ businesses. It will also give you all the information you need to create your proposal in minutes, plus a detailed letter of engagement. For example, if you’re planning to launch tax planning and business advisory services, Intuit’s proposal template in Ignition can help you quickly and easily package and price these services.

Step 2: Create a proposal and letter of engagement 

As part of your proposal, your letter of engagement should clearly state what’s expected, when, and how much these services will cost—thereby eliminating misalignment between accountant and client, especially when it comes to services and fees. Engagements should be the catalyst of all work. A signed engagement greatly reduces the risk of scope creep and drastically minimizes the potential for fee disputes going forward.


Leveraging technology to save time, reduce admin, and get paid for your service

To automate tasks in the client engagement and payment process, you can connect your favorite apps to Ignition. This saves time, and minimizes admin, tedious tasks, and mistakes. From the moment your client signs your proposal, automated workflows swing into action.

“My senior staff and I have saved countless hours thanks to Ignition,” said Sean M. Duncan, CPA, founder and president of SMD Consulting & Accounting, LLC. “[It] integrates nicely with our other software, which means everything can be automated. Once the client has provided the necessary e-signatures on the relevant documents and paid the required upfront fee, then and only then, Ignition software activates the project in our practice management system. Everything is in writing, which means I spend far less time on calls with upset clients. If there is a dispute, I can be confident I have the paperwork required to claim on my errors and omissions insurance.”

Naturally, you want to make sure that you get paid for the work you do and not waste valuable time chasing payments. Ignition can take care of this. It allows you to go from proposal to paid, in one place. So, you can collect credit card or ACH information up front on your proposals.

Ignition can also allow you to automate that process. So, if you sign up a client and doing monthly accounting services for them at $1,000 per month, once you have their payment information, you can automate invoicing and receive payments without any additional work on your end as a result.

How to market your advisory services 

Key takeaways:

  • Use one-to-many marketing tactics such as email to help you reach as many prospective clients as possible.
  • Use Google search phrases relating to your niche to inspire content such as blog posts that answer prospects’ questions.
  • Discover expert insights on digital marketing tactics for your firm in this article.
  • Ensure you use a range of tactics and strategies to attract advisory clients, and avoid over-relying on social media.
  • Use your knowledge of your clients’ business to work out the best time to pitch your services to them. 
  • Discover services and additional resources to help you transition to advisory.

You may prefer to market your advisory services through word of mouth referrals, and on a one-to-one basis via a phone call or email. But for the best reach you should consider the following one-to-many approaches:

Leverage the power of email marketing 

Using a CRM or marketing tool doesn’t need to be complicated. If you don’t have an existing CRM tool for mass communications, then consider using inexpensive and easy-to-use email software such Intuit® Mailchimp. You can use these tools to import a list of email addresses for the clients you would like to offer the additional services to; your email(s) should explain clearly:

  • The service you want to provide.
  • The benefits and value of this service.
  • Options available for the delivery of the services: one off, monthly, quarterly, or some other cadence.
  • How the clients can contact you for more details or to kickoff the process.

Just as you did during your soft launch, you could include a case study or testimonial. Proving the value of this service is a great addition to the marketing campaign. Again, offering a free trial for a short period of time works especially well if it’s a fairly new concept to the client.

Before hitting send, don’t forget to make sure you have a follow-up plan in place. How will you keep track of the offer recipients and who has taken it up? Make sure you touch base with those clients who didn’t respond to confirm whether they are interested in the additional services in question.

Create content for your website that targets advisory prospects

“Keep in mind that great websites have great content,” said Jennie Moore, Ignition’s partnership manager (AMER). “Think: messaging that’s clear, error-free, and meaningful, such as tips, blogs, downloadable documents, that hooks your audience and builds trust. Also think: client testimonials and reviews, because those are both a way to build trust and up your position in search engines.”

You can increase your website’s visibility when people search on Google by creating content that’s targeted to your clients. If you are targeting brewery owners, for example, you might search for phrases such as “how to set up taproom financial reporting.” By answering the questions that come up in the search results, you can provide valuable information to your target audience and establish yourself as an expert in your field.

A digital strategy is using technology to improve your business performance. In this Ignition article, Moore describes how to scale your firm’s growth using digital marketing tactics.

Avoid over-relying on social media 

Most tax and accounting firm owners or partners are fully aware of the importance of LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram to promote their business. However, over-relying on social media as a promotional channel is one of the mistakes I see firms making. While social media can be a valuable tool for promoting your services, it’s important to consider using other marketing strategies as well. Diversifying your marketing efforts can help you reach a wider audience and effectively promote your services.

Timing your launch campaigns

Knowing the best time to launch your services comes down to your understanding of your clients’ businesses, and when the timing is best to pitch your services. If your niche is a particular industry, you’re likely to have an in-depth understanding of their pain points and world view. You can use this information to guide the timing and what to say.

The next step

Knowing what you should do to take your business to the next level is a lot different to actually putting it into practice. But with Ignition, you can spend less time on time consuming administrative work, such as invoicing and payments. Ignition makes the transition to engaging advisory clients easier, and allows you to get paid and run your accounting firm on autopilot. 

Want to find out more how Ignition can improve efficiency, optimize your revenue and deliver seamless experiences for your advisory clients? Watch an online demo today:


Editor’s note: This article was originally published by Ignition.

Josh Lance, CPA, CGMA

Josh is head of accounting (AMER) for Ignition, the client engagement and commerce platform. He is also managing director of Lance CPA Group. Before venturing out on his own, he spent his early career at a Top 10 national public accounting firm, then moved to an ultra high-net-worth family office. Josh is an adjunct faculty member at Northwestern University and University of Vermont. He was selected for the 2017 AICPA Leadership Academy class, and was named to the CPA Practice Advisor’s 40 Under 40 every year from 2017 to 2022. He is also on the board of directors for the Illinois CPA Society. More from Josh Lance, CPA, CGMA

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