It’s the start of ‘event season’ for our clients and friends in the accounting industry. Whether you’re gearing up for the popular events like Xerocon or Thriveal, or travelling to a smaller events like “Accountants are Creative Too”, you’ll hear about products and services that you think could be game changing for your business.
When we’re caught up in the whirlwind of bright lights, new faces, lavish lunches and swag-till-the-cows-come-home, we’re at risk of shiny new thing syndrome. Every business with a good pitch can feel like the answer to your prayers.
How do you know when it’s more than just a good sales pitch, and you’re really ready to work with a company?
Address the pink flags
At these events, you’re good at identifying when you’re being sold to in a way you don’t like. You’re good at seeing the bright blazing red flags.
But unless there’s something glaringly obvious, you can be at risk of missing the ‘pink flags’. These are the things we could have caught early on, had we been real with ourselves about what’s most important when entering into a business relationship.
If you think you may have found the one, answer these questions to be confident you’re ready to commit.
1. Are they a personality fit?
If you choose to work with this business, you’re not actually going to be working with a business. You’re going to be working with people (ping!).
Real living breathing feeling human people. So while the service the company offers may look like the perfect fit, make sure the people behind the service are the right fit for you too.
What values do the team hold themselves accountable to? Do they live and breathe those values? And do they align with your own?
A company’s values will most likely be listed on their website, but there are other ways to find out how they conduct themselves and importantly, how others feel about them.
Read some blogs. Get a feel for who they are on social media. Check out google and facebook for reviews.
When you do, look out for recommendations where the words the companies use about themselves are mirrored.
When were they gracious? How did they demonstrate positivity? Find out as best you can whether they do as they say they’ll do.
Most importantly, are you going to like the people you’re working with? At PF, we love our clients. We want the kind of clients we can hang out with. Find the tribe you want to have coffee or the person who loves donuts as much as you do (hint: make mine an original glazed, please!)
2. Are you confident in their process?
Relationships can break down because expectations weren’t set at the get go. Has this company been up front about how they will work with you?
Their process isn’t for you to decide. We’re not talking about dictating how you want the work to be done, we’re talking about being sure you know how they do things, and you’re happy to collaborate with them in their unique way.
PF is a virtual company. We meet our clients when we can, because we know how valuable in-person time is for our relationships. But ultimately, the majority of our meetings are held on Zoom. If you’re considering working with us, but you’re not ready to have video meetings online, or prefer a local supplier, it’s likely we’re not the best fit for you right now.
You may find the company you want to work with has detailed their processes on their website, or explained it in marketing collateral. The team at MAP do a great job of explaining their way of doing things in their methodology.
We’ve talked before about how powerful a ‘How we Work’ page or a partnership agreement can be. This is why. You’re seeing now, as the potential client yourself, how much more confident you feel when a company understands your bigger picture goal, and shows you how they’re going to help you get there.
3. What is the cost to you if you don’t work with them?
If you’re concerned about cost, think about the value. consider what the cost will be to you or your clients if you don’t invest in working with this business? We’re familiar with this question at PF because we ask it a lot. When an accountancy budget is low, we know that often the first thing to get dropped is marketing. So we encourage accountants to ask themselves: what is the cost to you if you don’t work on your brand/website/marketing plan?
- My brand will continue to represent the wrong message and I’ll continue to attract the wrong people
- My website won’t give the right first impression, so I won’t get new leads
- I won’t know what marketing to prioritise, so I’ll continue to spend my marketing budget without strategy
Ask the same of the app you’re interested in – GoProposal, Float, Chaser. What will be the cost to me if I continue not charging my clients for all the services I provide to them? If my clients don’t really understand their cash flow position? If we continue to waste time chasing invoices?
Reframe the pricing argument going on in your head, so that you’re prioritising long-term value over cost.
What if they tick all the boxes, but you’re not ready?
Sometimes you believe a business is a perfect match for you, but there’s still something from preventing you from going all in.
Sometimes it really is budget. One of our clients recently told us he first saw us at an event years ago. He knew working with us was beyond his means at the time, but he kept up with what we were doing, utilised our free stuff in the meantime, and has partnered with us years later now he’s ready.
Ask yourself what you can do to be ready.
Is there something you can learn between now and then? What target might you need to hit to be ready financially? Be completely transparent and ask the company if you’re not sure. Or be like our client and absorb whatever free stuff you can get your hands on so you’re at least walking before you can run.
We recently created a preparation page to give anyone thinking about working with PF all the tools they need to decide if we’re the one.
Don’t give up on the goal if you’re not quite there yet.
Find out the minimum viable thing you can do to be ready… and do it.
Recognise this process is exactly the one your prospects will be following
This marketing tip helps you decide whether a company or an app you’ve met will be the right fit for you. Guess what? Your prospects are working through these same questions when they meet you, too.
- They’re asking whether you’re a personality fit
- They’re looking for your process, and forming their own expectations
- They’re assessing your value against their budget
Just as you need the tools to be able to make an informed decision, so do they.
Take stock of everything you’ve read here, and make sure you’re ticking all the boxes for them too.
Let event season commence…