How to Create and Sell Advisory Services

Two serious women in a business meetingFirst let’s define advisory services by what they are not. They are not compliance services. Sales tax issues, bookkeeping, payroll, and tax preparation are all compliance services.

Advisory services should leave the client better off in profits, efficiency, peace of mind, or time. Tax planning, cash flow planning, and workflow automation are advisory services. They are not required by law, and hopefully, the client benefits from implementing them.

Advisory services come in several different buckets:

  • Technology improvements. I could argue that accounting system selection is compliance work because systems required to comply with recordkeeping requirements. But there is an advisory component to it with regard to choosing the best system for the client. I would consider automation and workflow improvements advisory work.
  • Financial literacy and planning. This bucket helps the client keep more of what they make and includes tax planning, financial planning, and increasing the literacy of clients.
  • Specialty services. These are categories such as fraud work, business valuations, and succession planning. The accountant is generally required to have detailed accounting education in the specialty.
  • Profit and revenue improvement. This bucket is one that’s overlooked because it can be difficult to structure into a service. Plus, few people understand that there is a huge difference between accounting skills and business profit improvement skills. Not all accountants have good business skills, but they can learn them easily.

The other thing holding accountants back in this category is fear of marketing.Increasing revenue is the number one pain point for small businesses.Accounting and technology rank lower, #4 and #5 in some surveys.

Revenue improvement, cash flow planning, breakeven analysis, pricing assistance, gross margin measurements, and job costing are included in this category.

Which types of advisory services are you doing already? What type are you interested in? Once you’ve settled on a direction, you can take these steps to create your new advisory service:

  1. Decide if you need training.
  2. Review your client base to estimate the demand for your new service.
  3. Create your new service based on what your clients need.

Selling advisory services requires a different approach than selling compliance services. A successful sale of advisory services requires a high level of trust and an expectation of receiving a return on investment. When there is a match between what the client needs and what you offer, you have the potential for a sale.

Expanding your practice to include a larger percentage of advisory work can be extremely rewarding, both financially and personally. It’s not only where you can become a true business partner to your clients; it’s where you can turn a client’s accounting department from an expense into a profit center.

And, if you’re interested in advisory training on profit and revenue improvement, check out our course below that starts next week.