The way that we do business together has changed markedly over the last few decades. In particular, most product-based businesses have moved online to take advantage of the opportunities that the lucrative digital space presents.
Marketplaces like Amazon, and website platforms such as Shopify make it easy for sellers to establish a presence, reach a wider range of customers, and develop an enduring enterprise.
This large scale shift away from shopping malls and corner stores presents an enormous opportunity for accountants that are ready to embrace the change. Cloud accounting software makes it easy for businesses to manage their finances with ease, and integrations like A2X reduce the amount of work required for sellers to stay on top of their bookkeeping.
That's fantastic, right? But you may be wondering - where do accountants fit into the scene if technology is constantly reducing the amount of work that clients require from us?
In this guide, we answer your burning questions about how to thrive in such a changing world, and provide you with a proven blueprint for how to grow a wildly successful ecommerce accounting business that attracts the right clients on autopilot.
More specifically, we take a closer look at:
The accounting space is experiencing a fundamental shift as companies around the world adapt to survive (and thrive) in the new digital world that we now call home.
In particular, we have observed that many of the fastest growing accounting firms are making the following shifts:
Takeaway: Successful ecommerce accountants are moving towards partnering with their clients in a higher capacity rather than just providing services when they are called upon. As a result, the path towards growth is clearer and it makes the accounting practice easier to manage.
MuseMinded is an accounting firm that focuses on providing enormous amounts of value to a specific group of clients - small to medium sized Amazon sellers based in the United States.
By focusing on a clear and concise set of clients, they are able to double down on providing value in the places where it really matters. In doing so, they might not be a suitable fit for every business, but they certainly are the best option for their target market.
Instead of billing for work when clients call them, MuseMinded provides a range of services for a fixed monthly retainer. These services include:
For MuseMinded's customers, this offering solves their bookkeeping problems, freeing up their time to focus on exploring new opportunities and growing the business.
In doing so, MuseMinded are able to dedicate their team's time to serving clients on a higher level through providing advice on how they can make more money and offering technical support to ensure that the system runs smoothly.
Takeaway: By focusing on serving a specific niche, MuseMinded has been able to develop a standard package that is easy to manage, ticks all the boxes for clients, and can be provided at a very affordable price. Through dominating a smaller niche, the focus shifts from chasing new business to attracting your ideal clients.
When you're looking to bring on new clients through digital channels, it's important to be specific about who you're seeking to serve. Rather than being 'just another accountant' in an already cluttered marketplace, why not narrow down your audience and refine your offerings until you are clearly the best option for your ideal customers?
This shift from selling your skills to serving your niche ensures that you have a compelling offering which is designed to provide ongoing value. Before you begin attracting leads and converting them into clients, it's important to first understand who you're looking to attract and to tailor your operations for their needs.
Here is a checklist to ensure that you have the fundamentals in place first:
In the chapters that follow, we uncover our proven 3 step funnel for attracting the ideal clients and dominating your niche. When done right, marketing funnels are extremely effective at converting cold prospects into warm customers.
But if you don't know who you're trying to reach, or if your customer fulfilment system (team, website, tech stack, processes etc.) isn't designed with your customers needs in mind, then your marketing activities aren't likely to be very effective.
For more information about the customer fulfilment system and why it's important to get this part right first, check out this article about Michael Gerber's book, The E-Myth.
Takeaway: Before setting up your marketing funnel, you need to know who you're trying to reach. It's also important to ensure that your systems, branding and team is designed with these clients in mind. If you skip this step and start searching for clients before getting clear about who you're actually seeking to serve, you'll find it much harder to succeed.
Once you know who your customers are, and have positioned your firm to ensure that you are the best option to solve their problems, it's time to establish the first stage of your marketing funnel - attracting leads.
There are countless ways to reach new clients, and some will always produce better results than others. The following sections take a closer look at some of the most effective methods that modern ecommerce accountants use to attract leads.
When you're considering new ways to attract clients, it's important to ask yourself two key questions:
For example: writing a blog takes the same amount of investment regardless of whether it gets read once or 1 million times and people can always come back to view it in the future. However, cold calling a prospective client doesn't deliver any lasting value or source of leads unless they become a client.
When people are looking for an accountant, they often turn to search engines such as Google to find a suitable match. Here are some of the benefits of using SEO to reach your target clients:
Reaching your target customers through local SEO involves a logical process that starts with keyword research. Check out our SEO Guide For ecommerce Accountants to learn how to do this for your business.
Takeaway: Search engines are a fundamental part of how we use the internet. By optimizing your online presence to show up in the right search terms, you can increase the chances of attracting the right people to your website.
To dominate your niche, you want to position yourself as a reliable and credible player in the eyes of potential clients. A great way to deliver value upfront, and serve your audience is to create free tools and guides that solve specific problems which are common throughout your target market.
Not only are these free tools and guides useful for positioning you as a credible authority in your niche, but they also serve as evergreen assets. You only need to create them once, but there is no limit to the amount of times they can be used, or how many people they can support.
Takeaway: Free tools and guides serve multiple purposes - developing your reputation, providing a frictionless way to help your target market solve their problems, and creating an ongoing source of leads to fuel your marketing funnel.
When people are looking for an accountant, they will often search through directories to find a suitable professional in their area. When you're deciding which directories to list your business on, it's important to think carefully about where your audience goes to find answers.
Example: A2X is the leading Amazon and Shopify accounting plugin. As you can probably imagine, we get lots of inquiries from sellers that are looking for an accountant. To help serve our customers and support our partners, we maintain a directory of trusted accountants in each region of the world. As a result, we send hundreds of leads to our accounting partners every month.
There are plenty of other directories that are suitable for offering your accounting services. Here are a few examples:
Takeaway: Listing your firm on the right directories doesn't take much effort, but it can pay ongoing dividends. After all, the businesses that find you through these lists tend to be those that are in the market for your services.
Just like any other industry, people that sell products online attend conferences, watch webinars and are generally on the lookout for ways to grow their knowledge, connections and income.
At the same time, the organizers of these events are always looking for skilled experts to collaborate with, become sponsors, fill booths and provide valuable knowledge to the attendees.
Here are a few examples of industry conferences and meetups that might be worth considering:
Attending trade shows and local meetups is one way of finding new sources of leads. But it's not the only way. Podcasts are another method of reaching new audiences.
If there is one thing that we can be sure of, it is that the ecommerce space is only going to expand in the years to come. As more retailers open online stores, there are going to be more conferences, webinars, podcasts, blogs and educational events started to support this growing market.
This translates to plenty of opportunities to establish your presence and attract leads to your brand. So if you're considering where you can find speaking engagements and co-marketing opportunities, remember to think outside the box and look for credible places where your ideal clients go to learn and connect.
Takeaway: By attending reputable events and collaborating with established players in your niche, you can develop a reputation for being the accounting expert that people can rely on for sound advice and support.
When used correctly, paid ads can be a highly profitable (and scalable) way of generating quality leads. However, if you don't know what you're doing, advertising can chew up cash very quickly without providing tangible results.
It is therefore important to make sure that your advertising reaches the right people, and that you have a plan in place to ensure that marketing spend translates into revenue at the other end.
Facebook ads don't tend to be very useful at this stage because they are more audience based - compared to Google and Quora which target specific search intentions.
To get the most out of your advertising budget, you'll either want to work with a quality ads agency, or invest in learning how to do it yourself. For more knowledge about succeeding with ads, check out these resources:
Takeaway: Pay per click advertising is a highly effective way of reaching new clients when you do it right. If you decide to use advertising to reach new clients, make sure that the money you invest translates into paying customers on the other end.
Now that you have the foundations of your marketing funnel sorted, and evergreen sources of leads that are attracting people to your brand, it's time to display your credibility and build trust with your audience.
This stage takes place when people visit your website, so it's important to help your help people feel comfortable about meeting with you and trusting that you've got what it takes to help them succeed.
Takeaway: This stage is all about breaking down the barriers and reservations that potential customers may have about doing business with you, and proving that you are the best option for their needs. Not only does this increase the proportion of people booking appointments, but it also makes your job of converting them into clients (stage 3) much easier.
Social proof in the form of testimonials from happy customers is a great way to show potential clients that you are adept at solving their problems.
When you're displaying reviews, it's important to keep them fresh. After all, people can spot a stale compliment from a mile off, so it's important to show your newest reviews first. This can be done by manually asking for feedback from clients and updating it on a regular basis. But there's a better way - review automation.
The trick here is to set up a system that generates reviews on autopilot. It might look something like this:
Delighted sends emails to your customers to get their feedback and find out how likely they are to recommend you to a friend. FOMO displays these reviews on your website, and offers an extremely wide range of customization options.
While we're on the topic of reviews, it's important to remember that people who are interested in doing business with you will often search for '[your firm's name] + reviews' into Google to see what people are saying about you, so make sure to optimize for this keyword using SEO.
Takeaway: In today's world, just saying that you're great doesn't cut it - people want proof. Proudly displaying testimonials is a great way to build trust with your audience, and you can automate this process to help supercharge the growth cycle of your company.
Testimonials are great for showing potential clients that you're legitimate, but they don't provide much detail. For higher involvement decisions such as trusting an accountant with your financials, case studies are a great way to align your service with what the market wants.
Example: Here at A2X, we have an entire section of our website dedicated to case studies. We provide these to accountants and bookkeeping professionals that use our software to help them show clients how A2X can streamline their business.
Takeaway: Case studies help to build confidence in your firm, and give potential clients the opportunity to dig a bit deeper before booking a call with you. When structured correctly, they can also be used to align the client's problems with what makes you unique.
Picture this: you have a great website, your lead generation strategy is drawing plenty of relevant traffic to your website, and people are reading the case studies. But they are still leaving your website without taking any further actions.
Sounds painful, right? It's important to remember that this is normal, and it often takes multiple interactions before people are ready to do business with you.
Business owners quite often have lots on their mind, and there are numerous reasons why a genuinely interested lead might leave your site. They may have a meeting to attend, they could be reading up on your business while waiting for a taxi, or it might just be that they get distracted.
Either way, it's important to focus on these people, as they are the most likely to become your customers. This is where remarketing comes in handy. And it's simple - just set up Facebook and Google Ads retargeting your visitors with reviews and case studies.
The call to action for these ads should be to book a demo, check out your case studies or request a proposal to learn how you can help them.
Takeaway: By remarketing to people that visit your website, you can make sure to get the most out of every interaction. These ads follow your leads around the internet, reminding them that you're still here and ready to support them.
This is the final and most important stage of your sales process. By this point, the people that are ready to book calls with you should:
To succeed in converting your hard earned prospects into clients, it's important to pay attention to detail, deliver a professional experience and most importantly - make it easy for them to do business with you.
Before your potential clients book a call with you, it's important to collect enough information to ensure that what you offer is compelling and meets their needs.
This is where the 'request proposal' form comes in handy. When a lead completes and submits this form, they are formally confirming that they're ready to explore whether you are the right option for them.
You don't need any fancy software to ask for further information - a simple website form works just fine. However, if you're looking to make an impression and increase conversion rates, then you'll want to consider using Typeform.
Typeform is an interactive forms app that you can integrate into your website to ask the right questions based on the answers that people provide. It's beautifully simple and highly effective.
Sales tip: put a bit more detail into the request proposal form to ensure that you have enough information to make a good first impression and wow your potential clients.
Here are a few valuable pieces of information to gather:
Once they have completed the request proposal form, the next step is arranging a time to meet and explore whether you might be a good fit for working together - which is what we cover in the following section.
Takeaway: It's important to ask the right questions at this stage to ensure that you are well prepared to win the client over. To increase conversion rates, make it easy for them to book a call with you.
Have you ever tried to get in touch with a company, only to find yourself filling out detailed forms or trying to arrange a suitable time that works for everyone? It's frustrating to say the least.
Calendly is a free app that helps you to schedule meetings without the back and forth emails. When a client wants to book an appointment with you, they are directed to a webpage that offers all of your available time slots.
From here, they simply select the time that works best for them, enter their details and confirm the meeting. Once confirmed, it adds the meeting to your calendar and sends them a Zoom video link or another similar meeting link to streamline the process of connecting.
Takeaway: This interaction forms the start of your relationship with the client, so make sure to start the way you intend to carry on - make it easy for them to do business with you.
After you've finished the navigation call, you'll want to send through a proposal and get the deal across the line. Traditionally, this involves writing up a detailed proposal, sending emails and manually following up until you (hopefully) sign on the client.
This takes lots of time and effort. But there's an easier and more effective way: Practice Ignition.
"Send a proposal immediately after a call and forget about it until the money is in your bank"
Practice Ignition streamlines the entire process of closing the deal after your meeting:
Using integrated proposal software like Practice Ignition makes closing the sales loop and securing that subscription or commitment so much easier and more professional.
Here are a few other options for proposal software to make your job easier:
Takeaway: Integrated proposal software closes the sales loop and makes it easier to get a commitment from your clients. By streamlining this final part of the sales process, you can spend more time on other activities like closing deals and looking after clients.
Also known as inbound marketing, the three step sales process that we have described in this guide is a proven way to generate an ongoing source of new clients without you needing to constantly chase new business.
The real key here is to embrace technology to automate away as much of the workload as possible. That's why we use Delighted and FOMO for review management, Typeform to collect the right information, Calendly to streamline the booking process and Practice Ignition to seal the deal.
Of course, these are just a handful of the many useful apps that can be used to grow your business. For more insightful content to help you succeed with ecommerce clients, check out our blog and partner resource hub.
When it comes to looking after accounting for companies that sell on Amazon and Shopify, A2X plays a unique role in reducing the workload and improving accuracy. Click here to find out more about how our app can benefit your clients and make bookkeeping easier.