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REVENUE GROWTH 3 mins 02 Nov 2021 by Joshua Lance
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No one really likes to talk about how they price their accounting services. It can be a really awkward conversation, particularly if you’re not confident about the topic. Which, turns out, is the case for a lot of accountants out there.

Why? Well, most of us didn’t get into this business to “sell” to people. We got into it because we geek out on number-crunching or get a dopamine fix every time we find a solution to a problem that saves clients money. Big time.

But the sooner you get comfortable with talking about pricing, leaning into this aspect of your business instead of away from it, you’ll probably find yourself a whole lot happier.

That’s because your pricing—and everything associated with it—really matters.

For instance, every aspect of your work has value. And price is a mechanism for capturing and communicating value to your clients. Talking about it is a proactive way to take ownership in that value and let people know what you’re really worth in terms of the services, products/tools, expertise and other capabilities or resources you provide.

Putting your “price cards” on the table helps avoid surprises, too.

And all this helps create transparency around your business, builds trust with your client, and increases the odds of having long-term relationships with the right kind of clients. As in, those who truly appreciate what you do.

With that said, let’s talk about how you price your services. Most accountants follow a traditional model of hourly billing or charging per form. While that way of doing business may feel like it’s working for you, it begs the question: Is it really working for you? My guess is you regularly spend time dealing with a number of headaches, like chasing down payments. Or dealing with cash flow issues.

Newsflash: These are not great problems to have if you’re in a business that’s all about helping others manage their money smartly.

That’s why more and more accounting (and bookkeeping) professionals are turning toward a subscription-based model. This approach usually includes three tiers of pricing, like a bare bones package, a medium-level package, and a premium. Think: bronze, silver, gold. Each package comes with clearly defined elements, or the products/services, along with terms and conditions—which includes monthly, automatic payments via credit or debit card. When you get clarity around the value you offer, this fixed-fee, automated method makes incredible sense and prevents a host of traditional-pricing problems.

Get that down, you’ll find it’s really important to learn how and when to talk about pricing with clients. Historically, the tendency is for folks like us to blurt out our pricing right away or entertain prospective clients whose first question is: “How much do you charge for…?”

Full stop. Don’t go down that road. Anything happening around price that quickly is a red flag. “Fast” is not your friend.

Instead, slow down and honestly answer this series of questions:

  1. Is this client a good fit?

  2. Does this client align with who our firm serves or what services we provide?

  3. Does this client value our work?

  4. Does this client know what they want?

  5. Do we have agreed upon, defined scope that’s written in an engagement letter?

If you answered “no” to all these questions, cut it off right there. Don’t move forward…this is not your ideal client, which is what you want—and want more of!

But if you answer “yes” to all these questions, then you can move forward with confidence. Explain your pricing approach (which, by the way, should also be clearly communicated on your website).

And, what if, after talking about your pricing strategy you get a long, quiet pause in return? Say nothing. Just lean into the silence for a bit.

After all, you are the boss here. You know your value. You set the prices. And when this client says, “Ok, let’s give it a try,” you can celebrate, knowing you’ve got a client who values you, too.

So this may feel different from how you’ve done things in the past. But this is just the beginning of providing an awesome customer experience for clients, which I’m assuming is your goal.

To help, Practice Ignition offers a number of proposal-to-paid tools and strategies that can further take the angst out of the awkward pricing conversation. With marketing, engagement letters, proposals, payments and more all automated and managed in the cloud, there’s no more old-fashioned print, sign and scan going on. Because it’s all so seamless and easy, you’ll find you can create and close deals in a record five minutes. And without all the busy work and back and forth, you’ll find yourself closing more deals, growing your business (again, with the right clients), and getting smarter about all kinds of aspects of your job.

Who doesn’t want all that? I bet you do.

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Meet the author

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Joshua Lance

Head of Accounting (AMER) at Ignition and Managing Director  Lance CPA Group

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Published 02 Nov 2021 Last updated 19 Mar 2024