This is the first in a new series of blog posts I’m going to be sharing. I want to provide some story inspiration for different industries and sectors. In each one, I’ll share different story types that I’d consider telling if I was involved in that specific business.
First up, it’s the Accountancy and Bookkeeping world.
In 2015, I started working with my first ever cloud integrator. He’s a lovely chap called Jonathan. He was and still is, a massive advocate of the Xero cloud accounting platform. I was already a client of Xero, so I at least had some context as to what Jonathan did. Three years on and I’ve now worked with four different accountants as well as Waypoint, an Australian based cloud integrator.
In the process, I’ve got to know a lot about Xero and the accountancy & bookkeeping industries. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve got an appreciation of the changing nature of what they do and the value they deliver. I’ve attended a Xero Roadshow, Xerocon London and earlier this year, Xerocon Brisbane. Each event has given me the opportunity to meet a host of accountants, bookkeepers, representatives from Xero and app vendors. With each conversation, I’ve learned more.
One central conversation that goes beyond the Xero ecosystem is the very nature of the accountancy profession. It’s a complicated one. In one corner we have those that believe the more traditional compliance role of accountants is enough. Lodging of accounts, tax returns and payroll – that sort of stuff.
In the other corner are those that believe the future of the industry lies in offering advisory services to their clients. They see themselves offering a broader range of advice to support their clients. Some of those might still be financially related (personal tax planning, investment, insurance etc.) but it could also include business consultancy.
And, of course, there are those that sit in the middle.
I’ve heard arguments from both sides. As an outsider looking in, it’s fascinating to see the debate rage on.
For their part, Xero has recently created opportunities for accountants and bookkeepers to help their clients identify and implement the right apps for their business. App Advisory, as they call it, was a big focus at Xerocon 2018 in Brisbane.
What’s clear, is that ‘advisory’ means different things to different people.
Regardless of the nature of your own practice, I believe sharing your client success stories can make a massive difference to your business. If I ran my own accountancy or bookkeeping business these are some of the stories I’d be looking to tell.
Accountants and bookkeepers are a decent bunch. The notion of poaching business from a competitor isn’t one that sits well. But, for whatever reason, from time-to-time clients move between one accountant and another. Like moving banks or utility providers, moving accountants can be a chore. Tell the story of how easy you make the switch.
Not every client is sold on the idea of ‘cloud accounting’ some are frankly terrified. Put their mind at ease by telling them a story of someone who was just like them. Someone who was scared and reluctant to make the change. Tell them how that person came through it, overcame their fears and reaped the rewards.
Not every accountant does ‘compliance’ in the same way. How you do it and the processes you use can be a real differentiator. Rather than simply tell them what you do, make your approach to compliance come alive by telling the story of an experience your client had.
Whether you’re a bookkeeper or an accountant that offers bookkeeping services these stories are some of the easiest and most compelling to tell. Being able to show how outsourcing their bookkeeping gives your clients peace of mind and more importantly frees up their time can be really powerful. Make them even more powerful by sharing what they do with the time they’ve won back. (Spend more time with family, make more sales call, work on the strategy etc. etc.)
We’ve already highlighted the fact that advisory means different things to different practices. Whatever it means to you, telling your advisory stories can make it easier for potential clients to understand the value your advice can bring to them. It can be a great way of attracting new clients or selling your advisory offering to your current clients.
Maybe you’re already sold on the idea of App Advisory. Maybe that’s the future of your particular practice. If it is then there are two approaches I’d suggest. First is to tell the story of a broader client project that involved multiple apps. This is as much about your approach to delivering app advisory as it is to the specific apps. The second approach is to illustrate the power of specific apps with dedicated client stories where the focus is much narrower.
Each story should be about change. Regardless of the type of narrative you share, it needs to be a human story that shares a journey that your clients have been on. Make them real. Have the confidence to talk about the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.
Start with one story. Look at the types of story I’ve suggested above. Make a shortlist for each and then pick the one that feels right for you now. Then write it. Add it as a blog on your site. Share it socially. But don’t stop there.
Once it’s written make sure you get it out there. Could you create a video version of it? Could you add it as a slide in an existing presentation? Would turning it into a two-page PDF help your sales process? Or, and this is the real test, can you verbally deliver it when the time is right?
Trust is a pretty big deal in the accountancy and bookkeeping world. Use these stories to give your prospective clients the confidence to say ‘yes’.
I’d love to see you sharing your client stories and case studies. If you’ve got any questions about creating them for your practice, leave a comment or send me a message by visiting my contact page.
I'm a storyteller, case study specialist and the founder of The Story Edge. I want more people to tell more stories. I write stories, teach people to do the same and generally encourage people to use storytelling in their business.