Category Archives: Charging Higher Fees

Hate to Sell? Try This (Part One)

Most TaxCoach members didn’t become tax professionals because they wanted to “sell.” Then they got out in the real world and discovered that selling is an essential part of building your business and building your brand. But deep down, many still feel uncomfortable with the very concept of “selling” and the need to sell themselves, their services, and their value. Read more…

Management Lessons from Queen Elsa

If you’ve got little kids, or maybe grandchildren, you see a lot of Disney movies. In 2013, it was Frozen, an animated retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale, “The Snow Queen.” One of that film’s highlights was Queen Elsa, voiced by pop star Idina Menzel, singing “Let it Go.”

“Let it Go” is good advice in a lot of situations. Yet we see so many cases where TaxCoach™ members have a hard time with it, especially when it comes to clients.

We work hard to attract clients to our firm. We hate to see that effort go to waste. But not all the leads we work to cultivate will become clients, or even should become clients. Sometimes we discover, at the last minute, that they just won’t be a good fit. Maybe they balk at fees. Maybe they stall when they should act. Maybe they just rub you the wrong way. It’s really hard to get those prospects so close to closing, and give up.

It’s even harder with actual clients. We look at a failing relationship and blame ourselves, even when the fault isn’t ours – or there’s no fault at all. We see clients with unreasonable expectations or demands, and try to satisfy them rather than confronting them with their unreasonableness

That’s all understandable. But is it right? Is it fair, to us and our prospects and clients? Of course not. So, what do we do about it?

If you’ve got just one prospect – and you need to close that prospect to pay your rent – you’re going to do whatever it takes to close that prospect, including swallowing a lot of pride. If you’ve got just one client – and you need to keep that client to feed your kids – you’re probably going to let that client walk all over you, if they choose.

The solution here, as it is with so many business problems, is marketing, which I define as “creating demand for your service.” The solution, in two words, is deal flow. If you have a steady stream of interested prospects who see value in your service, you can afford to let those difficult prospects and difficult clients go.

How much time and effort do you spend trying to close difficult prospects? How much time and effort do you spend satisfying difficult customers? How much revenue do you give up meeting their unreasonable expectations, simply because you’re already “invested” in them?

Do you think you could take that time, effort, and revenue, and re-invest them in finding more appropriate clients?

(Note that I said “more appropriate” clients, not “better” clients. Often, the problem isn’t that clients aren’t “bad,’ in any quantifiable way – they just aren’t as good a fit as you’d like or deserve at this point in your career.)

None of us likes to realize that we’ve wasted time and effort in cultivating a prospect or client who just won’t work out. But sometimes we let those sunk costs cloud our judgment and refuse to move on, even when continuing the pursuit or relationship is no longer in our best interest. Behavioral economists call that the “sunk cost fallacy,” and it’s easy to fall prey to.

So next time you’re faced with that situation, ask yourself if it’s really in your best interest to pursue the relationship . . . or if you’re better off taking Queen Elsa’s advice to just “let it go”!

Read more…

Random Thoughts On Pricing

Here in the business world, some of us love to use the sort of annoying, pretentious, and useless corporate jargon that drives normal people nuts. We reach out to new customers, onboard them, and circle back to touch base with them. We drink the Kool-aid, think outside the box, identify core competencies, take it to the next level, and leverage best practices. Read more…

Your One-Step Marketing Plan to Take Advantage of Tax Planning Season

We humans have evolved to pay attention to all sorts of seasons as the years go by. I’m not just talking about the usual spring, summer, fall, and winter. I’m talking about holiday seasons, hunting seasons, football seasons, and the like. But none of those are more important than the one that starts Tuesday, after you put away those summer whites that Emily Post says you shouldn’t wear after Labor Day. I’m talking, of course, about Tax Planning Season. Read more…

Healthier Fees

Let me tell you a little story about pricing professional services — there’s a lesson here for all of us.

I had more fun than you did this morning. That’s because I spent it sitting in my dentist’s chair, getting a temporary crown for my back molar where I had a root canal done a couple of years ago. (Those of you who are squeamish about the dentist, feel free to skip ahead to the fourth paragraph.) He started out by taking a wax impression of my tooth. Then he pulled out a drill that looked like something Laurence Olivier would have used in Marathon Man (“Is it safe?”), literally shaved the edges off my tooth, fashioned the temporary crown out of some nasty glop that kept sticking to my tongue, and cemented it in place until I come back for the permanent crown on September 13. Read more…

Two Smart Words from One Smart Guy

Marc Andreesen is one of the smarter guys to emerge from the Silicon Valley tech world.  He coauthored Mosaic, which became the first widely-used internet browser. He co-founded Netscape and sold it to AOL for $4.2 billion. He co-founded LoudCloud and sold it to Hewlett-Packard for $1.6 billion. Today he helms the venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz and sits on the boards of Facebook, eBay, and Hewlett-Packard. He’s even one of just six inductees in the World Wide Web Hall of Fame. (Bet you didn’t even know that was a thing!)

So when Marc Andreesen offers some advice, it’s probably worth listening to—even if it doesn’t seem directly relevant to you or your business. Read more…

Captain Kirk’s Secret to More Confidence and Higher Fees

Captain KirkAny Star Trek fans in the room? I’m talking the “real” Star Trek, with William Shatner as Captain Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock, the perfect pan-ethnic supporting cast, and one poor schlemiel in a red shirt who beams down to the planet and never makes it back alive.

Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets had one rule so important they called it the Prime Directive: “No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet.  No reference to space or the fact that there are other planets or civilizations.” In other words, no interfering with any other civilization’s development.

Here at TaxCoach, we have our own Prime Directive: Lucror Vestri Dignitas, or “charge what you’re worth.” Not quite as grandiose as the Star Trek directive. A little mercenary, even. But still well worth remembering as you build your tax and financial services practice. Read more…

More Success Stories About Higher Prices

Wednesday night, due to weather-related travel delays, I found myself idly flipping through the channels at a hotel in downtown Miami. (It was the Viceroy, on Brickell Avenue, which was a nice property, but with such a heavy Miami Vice vibe that I was surprised they didn’t stock cocaine in the minibar.) I came across something on CNBC and realized just a few minutes into the program that I would be writing about it here.

The show was called Restaurant Startup, and it’s a cross between Shark Tank and Top Chef. (Seriously… I can see the producer walking into a meeting with CNBC and pitching it as exactly that.) Read more…

My $80 Bag of Groceries

Bag Of GroceriesMemorial Day weekend, my girlfriend and I enjoyed an especially relaxing Saturday afternoon. (There’s got to be a better term than “girlfriend” for a divorced guy who’s 50 years old, but that’s neither here nor there.) We started out with a couple of hours of tennis, which I’ve discovered is quite a bit better exercise than golf. Then we moved to my house to grill dinner on the deck. On the way, we stopped at Whole Foods to pick up supplies.

We ended up with a gorgeous-looking ribeye steak, along with some pasta salad in lieu of the usual baked potato, limes for Liza’s drinks, and a 6-pack of St. Pauli Girl nonalcoholic beer for me. (Costs the same as the fully-leaded version — there’s a lesson in that.) Read more…