As an Accountant, you don’t sell time. You already know that – you sell what you know. You sell knowledge, wisdom & solutions. You turn intellectual capital (what you know) into intellectual property (a report, paper, file etc). Having said that the majority of the Accountants I have met (over 175,000 of them in the past 24 years) have set their business model up as a ‘labor for hire’ business – a time seller!
Let’s park the issues and reasons why you should not be a time selling business and focus on the intellectual capital business. That’s what you really sell so let’s focus on that.
If you truly believe that you’re in the intellectual capital purveying business then that means you can (and MUST) productize as much as possible what you know and turn it into intellectual property.
If you turn your intellectual capital into intellectual property then you can create ‘products’ that you can sell over and over again for the least amount of labor input possible – ideally not your labor. Than you can create a replicable and scalable business not reliant on expensive humans to recreate everything from scratch every time.
Your products can come in many formats:
- A meeting schedule – quarterly monitoring with templates and agendas
- A set of accounts – your primary compliance end of year product
- A tax return – a beautiful document to present to your clients
- A report – such as a research paper nicely bound up
- A cash-flow forecast – spreadsheets, colourful graphs and interesting words
- A web enabled analysis – user driven questions / answers and a detailed report pops out the end
- A group coaching program – systematic program to group coach your niche market
- A business plan – research, analysis and templates
And so on and so forth. Turning what you know into saleable and scalable products. Here is the golden rule with products ‘if you ever think you’ll have this client situation again then systemize it and turn it into a product’.
You with me so far? If you are (and you truly believe in what I am saying) then there are 4 strategic questions to ask for every single product you create.
WARNING: All the questions are ‘double / triple barrelled’ and they will invoke a lot of thinking and discussion. It took 24 years of thinking on my part to come up with them. They’re important – read them carefully!
Question 1 – What are the components, format and value (to your client) of your product you wish to market? Examples:
- It has a needs analysis questionnaire, a report and a meeting.
- The report is bound up (on brand) with colorful graphs and user friendly words. The meeting will last up to 90 minutes.
- The value to the client is a thorough understanding of their cashflow and recommendations on how they can improve their cashflow which means they can grow their business and their wealth.
Question 2 – Who is the target market and how will they get to know about your product? Examples:
- The target market are retail businesses who have gross sales over $500,000.
- We will run 3 introductory seminars titled ‘how to improve your cashflow’ and send out case studies of previous success stories to our prospect database of 5,000 retailers.
Question 3 – How will the value of the product be positioned to the client and what value based fees price will your product be sold at? Examples:
- Once we get expressions of interest we will meet with the prospect / client and understand … their situation fully, their objectives, the potential cashflow improvement, the benefit to them by implementing our suggestions and the timing of when they’d like to get started.
- The positioning will be on what new free cashflow will mean to them.
- We will start at $10,000 but give 3 options to choose from and depending on the value (return to the client) that our work will provide will determine the ultimate price.
Question 4 – How will this product be produced and delivered with the least amount of labor possible and preferably not by you? Examples:
- We have already templated most of it and we’ve got web based software to capture all of the core research data.
- Until our AI ‘bot’ is up and running, our virtual assistant (offshore) will send the web link to the client to fill in the answers to everything we need.
- Our analyst team (offshore) will look at the answers given by the client and go back to the client for more information before the face to face meeting.
- Our analyst team will input everything into our software and come up with 3 scenarios that we could present.
- Our virtual assistant will coordinate with the client the meeting details and make sure all the decision makers are in the room at the same time. They will also prepare all of the reports needed.
- The meeting will have an agenda and we’ll open up with ‘what do you want to achieve out of today’s meeting’. We’ll be very focussed on ONLY covering what they want to achieve and we’ll also make sure ‘we tell them what they need to know not everything we know’. By staying focussed like this we can finish ahead of time and still give tremendous value.
If you believe you sell what you know then (I think) you should follow this 4 question format with every product you can think of. All questions and comments welcome – I am not a ‘bot’.