Author: Tanya Hilts, CPB
When I refer to Right Sizing, I don't mean the number of clients you have, your revenue or the number of team members you have. This is what I call my spin on value pricing. To me, value pricing is much more than just pricing the package based on the value I provide or the value the client perceives. It is much bigger than that, which is when I decided to term it Right Sizing. This means the Right Client, with the Right Plan at the Right Price. I have a 4 stage dating process that I put my clients through. By the time I am done, I am confident in my decision to work with the right client, that we have come up with the right custom plan that suits their needs, addresses their pain points, and that I have come up with the right price that I am comfortable with for these custom solutions.
The first stage, is the speed dating round. This is a brief conversation in person if the client is local and wants a face to face meeting, although I don't encourage it at this stage. I try to keep this short and sweet, a maximum of 15 minutes. I don't want to know too much at this stage, but it gives me a bit of a feel if this is something I am interested in taking on. They may only be looking for a one time catch up, some training to get started, or perhaps looking for someone using a product I don't service. Basically this is to find out if there is enough compatibility to move forward.
Next we move to the first date. On the first date, there is a questionnaire that I have specifically designed based on my past experience of good and bad client relationships. I offer the client two methods for completing 2 questionnaire's. Via email will take them about 5 minutes, or that we can complete it over the phone, but it will take about 30 minutes. Of course, their answer to that question is already quite revealing. My ideal client will be mindful of my time as well as their own time. Each question is specifically developed to reveal information about this prospect. The first set of questions, although still important are general, and like a first date, not too detailed. I ask them to rate the importance of certain bookkeeping tasks, why they were looking for a new bookkeeper, and if their books are current. These are very telling details as it informs me how much they value the relationship with a bookkeeper. Thus answering for me "Is this is the Right Client?". To determine the questions I wanted answered, I just visualized my ideal client, the positive attributes they would have and then came up with the questions that would give me those insights.
We now move on to the second date, or the second questionnaire, which is automatically generated after the first one is completed. This gets the details I need to price. Information such as desired tasks they want me to handle, the number of bank accounts, credit cards or lines of credits. An approximate number of monthly transactions, monthly revenue, employees, do they have inventory, and if they are sole proprietor or incorporated. These answers provide about 80% of what I need to price them. Enabling me to build the Right Plan with the appropriate software and apps built in. Of course this will require a follow up phone call to thank them for completing the questionnaires, ask any further information and see if they have any questions about the process so far and to set up an appointment at least a day away either in person if they are local, or via phone or video chat if they are not local. I NEVER price the person when I am speaking with them or meeting with them. I need to ensure I have a built a plan and price that I am comfortable with. Now, on the off chance that they failed the first questionnaire and I have determined they are not the right client for me, this is when I would let them know that I will be unable to meet their needs and may offer the name of another local bookkeeper who may. They may be wanting to use a product I don't offer, or want me to handle more tasks than I have time to take on. Regardless, I will let then down easy.
By the third date, we have already determined that we are compatible and are willing to continue. I will prepare for the date in advance by working on the price to make sure that I have taken everything into account and will come up with a few pricing plans and options, of course you should be placing the middle option as the most attractive, because this will be the one I really want most prospective clients to take. If they aren't happy with the price, I know that I am already at my bottom line price, so I negotiate with services. By taking away some services, you can help the prospect determine if what is important to them and if the plan is priced right for them. If all goes well and this is the Right Client, at the Right Plan for the Right Price, you will begin what will hopefully be a long and wonderful relationship.
Of course, just like in love, you will not find your soul mate in every client. I find I now close about 25% of my quotes, but since I have adopted this new process, my clients are of a higher caliber and value my services and experience much more than my old clients did when I tried to close every lead that came to me.
Until next time,
About the author: Tanya has earned her Certified Professional Bookkeeper designation through CPB Canada, is an Advanced Certified QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor, and a Member of the Intuit Trainer Writer Network. To Tanya, being a forward-thinking entrepreneur means constantly increasing her own knowledge level and obtaining more certifications, education, and experience in order to not only increase the services and benefits she can offer her clients but to spread that awareness to other members of the accounting community. Tanya's passion for advancing the accounting profession has lead her to regular speaking engagements. Tanya's publically known enthusiasm for the industry has led her to become a current Director of CPB Canada. www.TanyaHilts.com