Knowing and communicating the value of you and your firm to both existing and prospective clients can often be the critical elements that help not only strengthen client relationships and win new business, but differentiate your practice from the competition.

“Clients are smarter and more sophisticated today, and they know that you’re not the only act in town,” said Jim Metzler, vice president of small firm interests for the American Institute of CPAs.

“The best way to sell your services is to know what it’s like to be a buyer. You must know what potential clients and hires are asking themselves to make that client connection.”

Metzler, who served as managing partner for Buffalo, N.Y.-based Gaines Metzler & Kriner for 32 years before coming aboard the AICPA,  led a session titled “You Are the Value: Knowing and Articulating Your Value” at the Practitioners Symposium and Tech + Conference, in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

“I worked at my dad’s auto parts store when I was 14, but I was taught to ask the right questions and get the customer the right part,” he added.

CPAs tend to undervalue themselves as a rule, Metzler noted.

“You need to articulate your value and get in front of the right people at the right time,” he said. “Understand their needs and get close to them. You can’t assume that even long-term clients are aware of how valuable your services are. Implement CRM. If you do a lot of client work with family-run businesses, get close to the sons and daughters of the owners for the future.
He suggested thinking of a “Value Ladder” comprising seven questions when affixing a value quotient to a firm:

1. Who are you? Connect emotionally with a client to ensure a lasting relationship.
2. What do you do? Define your unique value proposition.
3. Why do you do what you do? State your core business beliefs and let clients know what motivates you.
4. How do you do what you do? Walk a prospect through your firm’s processes.
5. Who have you done it for? Regale prospects with stories and experiences of how you have helped clients.
6. What makes you different? Distinguish your firm from the competition.
7. Why should I do business with you? Communicate the real value the client will receive.

“You need to be serious about creating a culture of value and to get to a point where the client says, ‘This CPA really gets me. He understands it,’” said Metzler.

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