Professionals are working harder than ever before. More and more billable hours no longer automatically equates to an ever-increasing standard of living. The best firms have discovered the secrets to acquiring top quality clients that will pay top-notch fees year after year. No matter what market you operate in, there are top quality clients. The good news is that there are always more of the A+ clients than you’ve ever thought there were. This white paper is about the sequential strategies, processes, and methodologies that you can use to attract more of those high quality clients and attract them at premium fees.
Nothing is more frustrating to the highly specialized and skilled professional of today than being viewed as simply another commodity. Your ability to position your firm as a value leader and hence command premium pricing in your market will be vital not only to the future of your firm but also to the standard of living that you will enjoy in the coming years. Existing in a price driven environment is a position that no professional knowledge firm wants to find itself in. Commoditization is a fact and it is here to stay and even the largest professional knowledge firms are being confronted with it.
You are sitting across the table from your client or prospect. Your firm’s credibility is about to undergo a major test as you present their report (e.g. tax return, financial report, sales proposal, firm profile, audit report). The client opens the business report cover and begins to review the document. They begin to evaluate your expertise and the value you provide based on the quality of the contents and the quality of the presentation (imprinted presentation folder). Ultimately, the client wants to know if you did your homework and do you care about them. In their mind, they are asking, “Is this worth my investment?”
Often, professionals have too narrow a view of their product. They sometimes view the tax return, financial statement or other report, sometimes called the deliverable, as their product. Yes, the deliverable is a tangible representation of your service. As such, it is an important part of your service, yet it is not the service. The view that service is only the production of a deliverable is dangerous for professionals because it defines professional services as little more than a set of deliverables. Instead, think of your services as activities that take place during production and consumption processes that are partially simultaneous, and that always involve the client.
One of the most effective – and often underappreciated – methods for conveying professional reputation is through the use of high- end collateral and corporate identity materials. In fact, BusinessWeek reported that a Yankelovich Clancy Shulman poll of business executives nationwide found corporate identity materials – business cards, letterhead, and such – are second only to annual sales in conveying a company’s prestige. Highly successful companies use top-quality identity materials for everything from letterhead, business proposals and business plans, to press releases, newsletters and product sales sheets.
If client retention is a major concern for your firm, you are not alone. In fact, it ranked as the top challenge for CPAs according to the latest AICPA PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues Survey. Results revealed that holding on to good clients is crucial for practitioners going forward. Like it or not, in this new economy where cost-cutting and employee layoffs are the norm, client relationships are in great danger. Unfortunately, most firms have less people to take care of valued clients, with many stretched to their limits. To make matters worse, clients are becoming more critical and demanding of their advisors.