Nobody likes going through an entire proposal process with a prospective client only to have them say, “Oh, that’s too expensive. I was thinking it would be £x”.
You find yourself thinking, “Well that would have been useful to know when you first enquired!”
The problem is, asking someone for their budget amount at the beginning is never a good idea.
Even though someone thinks they have a budget, that’s merely the price in their head that matches what they expect. It’s actually a fluid thing. If you can blow them away, change their perspective, show them new things which are possible that they never imagined, their budget will expand along with their education.
This is why content marketing is so very, very powerful. And why it takes so long. You’ve got to help them expand their thinking, explore what’s possible that they never knew before, and in some cases, stretch their budget expectations at the same time.
When I was considering buying a clock made out of an upcycled whisky barrel, I had no idea whether it would be £50 or £5000. My budget adjusted the more I learned about the company (Upcycled Timber Co), how they worked and what they made and the quality of the work they did. (The clock was £125, by the way.)
How to educate your prospects so they are ready for your pricing
Here are a few ways you can inform and educate so that those who come to you are ready for the right sort of budget: yours.
1. Give some level of price indication on your website.
We all equate “no price at all” with “very very expensive”. Where appropriate, you can give a range, or an estimate, or show an example of the types of fees they might expect to see in a proposal.
2. Remember that first prices set the tone.
The first prices your clients experience set the tone for the rest of the relationship – which for accountancy firms can be 5-15 years at least. (One of my firms told me about a client of his who had been a client for over 40 years, back to the time of his grandfather.)
If you run a powerful, effective, well-run event with high quality guest speakers and you charge £25 for the day, you’ve set some expectations for future fees.
3. Tell pricing stories to your prospects.
You could mention that a client came to you for bookkeeping and later added the accounts and tax and payroll. Or if you only have a holistic approach, explain why it didn’t work with that other business who only wanted one thing.
4. Tell stories about everything.
When you’re talking to a client or prospect, you’re often saying, “We were helping a business the other day who…” and “One of our clients had that problem recently and they…”
Turn those stories into content – blog posts, case studies & testimonials on your site, videos, social posts, and more. Show your prospects how amazing it is to work with you. Let them feel it.
5. Let them start small.
That’s one of our principles at the Profitable Firm: if you’re not sure, start at the lowest possible level. You can always bolt on more later.
We do that because working with a marketing agency requires a high level of trust, and we don’t want to rush it. You’re the same as an accountant: some clients may need to experience a little support in a small area before they sign up for the major stuff. Be patient.
6. Stick to your pricing like glue.
Once you have set your prices in a way that is profitable and consistent across the whole firm, stick to them. Don’t be moved. If someone isn’t ready to pay, ask what they would like to remove from the list of what they’re getting.
7. Be awesome, and talk about it.
I’m a member of a group called the Content Marketing Academy, and the tag line on everything is “Don’t forget to be awesome” or “DFTBA”.
I’ve historically avoided this word because I’m originally from the States, so I don’t want to sound “too American”. But the accountants we work with are indeed awesome – in helping clients, in relationships, in expert advice, in encouragement and support.
The key is to shout about your awesome-ness in a way that fits with the style and tone of your firm.
Not all firms are comfortable saying “Hey, look at our payroll services: we’re incredible at this!” or, “There’s literally no one else who does Xero training like we do!” And that’s fine – you can show off in your own inimitable style. But you still have to tell people, or else they won’t know. Find your areas of awesome, and talk about those.