Mastering Fee Objections: Advanced Techniques for Accountants

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We’ve all heard it before: “That’s too expensive for me.” Fee objections can present some of the most frustrating challenges for professionals, especially those who aren’t selling a tangible product.

But no matter what you’re selling, the best way to answer objections is to demonstrate your true value. You don’t have to be trained in sales to overcome “sticker shock.” You just need to uncover what your clients really want.

What Drives Fee Objections?

Although business owners are craving reliable advice on everything from financial planning to public relations right now, it’s also easier to dismiss outside professionals and service providers as “optional.” It’s a true catch-22: The people who need your advice during the COVID-19 era may also be the most reluctant to buy it.

Thankfully, price objections give you a rare window into the prospect’s world – and a chance to present them with a solution.

In general, fee objections fall into 3 categories:

  1. Unrealistic expectations. When a client is unsure about your fees, it often means that they have unrealistic expectations about your services. Comments like “It’s more than I expected” or “your fees just seem high” are an opportunity to close that expectation gap. Make it clear what you can accomplish for them or their business, using concrete examples and explaining common industry practices.
  2. Cash flow and budget problems. If you hear “I just can’t afford that” or “We’re trying to cut costs right now,” it’s important to identify exactly where the money troubles lie. If it’s a cash flow problem, you can explore alternative payment terms. For a tight budget, you might decide to offer a discount instead.
  3. Competition. It’s easy to hear “I’m happy with my current provider” as a rejection, but don’t assume that the conversation is over. Whether your fees are being compared to an existing service provider or the competition at large, it’s your task to discover the client’s true needs and see if they’re really being met.

Demonstrating Your Value as an Expert

To successfully answer fee objections, you must build trust in your abilities as a subject matter expert. That takes patience, experience, and an honest assessment of your offerings. Here are a few of the best ways to start showing your true value today.

Make empathy a priority during sales meetings.

It’s important to approach each sales conversation with empathy for the prospect’s needs, rather than rushing to defend your prices. When you start trying to “combat” every objection, you might alienate them further.

In an interview with ThinkAdvisor, renowned sales trainer Jeb Blount explains why practicing empathy is so important for CPAs: “As a financial advisor, you’re asking another human being to trust you with their future…The key about empathy is to turn off your own need to feel important and be the expert. A lot of financial advisors have that problem because they want to talk about the product they sell and about money.”

Pause and listen before responding.

As successful sales leader and author Colleen Francis writes, “To handle objections, you need to pause, acknowledge, and tell a story.” Why does this method work? According to Francis, “the more you thank them for asking questions or acknowledge that they have the right to ask questions, the more open they are to dialogue.” 

When a price objection comes up, force yourself to pause for at least one full breath. Once you’ve acknowledged the objection, experts say you can ask up to 3 clarifying questions to explore it. Then tell a relevant story that showcases your expertise.

Invest in your firm’s brand.

When you’re consistently hearing that your fees are “too expensive,” it’s time to do a thorough review of your brand, including your online presence and marketing campaigns. It’s also a good idea to reflect on your team’s pitch during sales meetings.

Ask these questions when you review:

  • What really makes you different from your competitors? Is it obvious?
  • What are your key selling points, and why would they matter to a client?
  • Do your firm’s branding elements and communications all match up with your price range and target audience?
  • When you make claims about your services, do you have supporting evidence to back them up? (i.e. testimonials and concrete numbers)
  • Are your services truly aligning with the needs of your prospects?

Brand expert Stephen King once said: “A product can be copied by a competitor; a brand is unique. A product can be quickly outdated; a successful brand is timeless.” Whether you realize it or not, your firm has a brand. The right one can do some of the talking for you and create more confidence in your services.

Give your clients the option to pay fees over time.

If your clients often mention cash flow problems, consider expanding your payment options to create a better billing experience.

Offering a payment plan to your client can make your fees look more manageable. They work as an incredible sales tool, helping you to sell larger projects and “big ticket” items. With the right financing options, you can also give your clients extended credit terms – and some breathing room.

Do you need some help answering fee objections? Learn more about QuickFee’s unique financing solution for professional services when you contact us for a free demo!