As an accounting firm, you will know all about selling services – but what about products? Now, we’re not suggesting you need to enter into the world of manufacturing or product design – simply be more innovative with how you sell your services.
By this, we mean it’s time to embrace productisation. Which, of course, would be much simpler to do if you knew what the term meant: in short, it involves transforming your skills and services into marketable products. Whilst it does not necessarily require the creation of physical goods, it does help to create an almost tangible offering; one which is so clearly defined, your client will feel as though they are receiving a perfectly packaged product.
Ultimately, productisation is about providing certainty. Whilst your clients will still be receiving the same services, they will have the added security of clearly defined parameters and set pricing. And it works both ways: traditional service offerings leave accounting firms vulnerable to unpredicted hours and additional requirements. With productisation, you remove the guesswork. Your clients will pay a set price for a specific set of outcomes and can choose to pay for add ons where required – no nasty surprises here.
The simple answer to this question is to survive. The accountancy market is constantly evolving and so are consumer expectations. This means, to keep up with trends and meet ever-changing needs, your firm must, too. In a recent interview for Boss to Boss, Sean Hoban, CEO of Kimble, noted that clients are no longer comfortable making purchases based on hourly rates, instead, they are asking to buy on a consumption or outcome basis, so if your accounting firm can’t offer this, they will go elsewhere.
We’ve already touched on some of the benefits productisation can bring for your firm above, but some additional advantages include:
- Increase sales through simplifying the customer journey
- Streamline processes and payments through predefined parameters and reduced customisation
- Create a scalable business model
- Establish yourself as a leader within a specified niche
- Harness the power of AI and automation
Possible drawbacks to be aware of
As with everything in life, whilst productisation is accompanied by a lot of pros, naturally, there are some cons too. But rather than shy away from them, let’s explore them further and identify possible solutions to avoid and overcome them should they arise.
- Reduced personalisation: productised services are designed to meet the needs of many and thus are far less personal than traditional service offerings. Whilst many will be okay with this providing it still offers a suitable solution, in some cases, this can lead to reduced satisfaction. To overcome this, you should ensure your clients understand the benefits of productisation and be prepared to offer additional add-on services where required.
- Narrower target market: naturally, if you are reducing your services to fit predefined packages, your number of prospective clients is likely to narrow, too. But this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. As we mentioned earlier, specialisation can be beneficial as it allows you to establish your accounting firm as a leader within specific niches. Whilst we are used to hearing “The more, the merrier”, actually, in some circumstances perfecting a few areas can be far more beneficial than being mediocre at many.
- Initial investment time: establishing how to package your services to bring value to both you and your clients can take time. Not to mention the additional investments needed to establish and automate the required systems and processes. You need to be prepared to invest time and resources into researching, implementing and revising this process. After all, it’s far better to take your time initially than rush into decisions and watch your mistakes spiral out of control. And of course, it’s worth noting that this initial investment will all be worth it in the long run.
How to succeed
Select your services
As we mentioned earlier, productisation will require you to reduce your service offerings and focus on a niche. Start by creating a list of all your services and selecting the ones you feel you are most successful in delivering. Once you have done this, you can then work on turning your selected services into solutions for your target customers.
Focus on your clients
Ultimately, the shift towards productisation is driven by a customer-centric approach, so this needs to be reflected in your communications. Take the time to understand your target audience – including everything from their language to pain points – and use this as a basis for your communications. Additionally, you need to remember that with productisation comes a focus on outcomes, so make these explicit when presenting your solution.
With this in mind, naturally, the best place to start is by identifying the problem you seek to solve with your services. It’s all about showing your prospective clients that your solution is both relevant to their problems and better than your competitors’ offering.
Offer a taster of your services
Productisation is still a relatively new concept within the accounting industry – and change can be scary. To make the transition easier for your clients, think about offering entry packages at a lower price point and then build on this with additional packages further down the line or simply advise when and why clients should progress to your higher-value packages.
Pick your products
Whilst we’ve mainly focused on productising your accounting services through subscription packages, there are several other options available. This includes:
- Online courses
- Downloadable templates
Examples of productisation within the accounting industry
Training subscription packages
Thomson Reuters offers resources and support to help accountants and other professionals reach their full potential. They have created a range of CPE subscription packages designed to help tax and accounting firms to broaden their skill sets and optimise their offerings.
Zoho has launched an accounting app that offers a range of services, including everything from invoicing and VAT to bills and expenses. Similarly to Thomson Reuters, Zoho offer a variety of monthly and yearly subscription options, each offering varying services, integration and support levels.
David Cristello and Joe Cassandra are the authors of Double Your Accounting Firm: Lessons Learned on How Top Firms Grow Faster, Build Stronger Teams, and Increase Profit. The eBook was written to help accounting firms to optimise their performance and drive growth. The reason the book is so effective is thanks to both the authors’ experience within the professional services industry.
To learn more about productisation, be sure to check out our interview over on the Boss to Boss site where you’ll also find more insight from renowned industry leaders, such as Stephen Kelly. And if you’re ready to learn more about how productisation can benefit your firm, why not have a chat with one of our marketing experts? Please contact us here for a free consultation!