Accounting Influencers Roundtable


How Accountants Can Sell Effectively and Add More Value

phil sayers on the BD Academy Accounting Influencers podcast with Rob Brown

Phil Sayers has spent his life in sales. He’s sold products as varied as building materials, storage and logistics equipment, design services, telemarketing services, IT systems management and testing software, satellite communications equipment and software, and accounting and payroll software.

He’s sold and managed sales team around the world and is old enough to have seen how new technology has radically changed the way we work, from the introduction of fax machines, pagers, mobile phones and of course, the internet and cloud technologies.

In the 1990’s, Phil ran one of the fastest growing Sage Resellers in the UK, during a period that saw the early transition from DOS to Windows based software and more recently returned to the Accounting Software sector as Sales and Marketing Director and interim CEO of one of the UK’s cloud accounting software vendors.

In 2018, having worked with accountants and observed the challenges faced by those practices that wanted to expand into the area of advisory services, he founded Proten Sales Development, working with accountants to help improve the effectiveness of their clients’ sales activities. He also heads up the UK business development activities of The Gap Portal, web based software that enables accountants to market, sell and deliver high value advisory services in a consistent, repeatable way. Shownotes:

  • The more successful clients are, the more profitable things are for the accountant
  • Compliance is changing, but definitely not dying
  • The two ways the market for accounting services is changing
  • Technology is generating massive operational efficiency
  • Real time data allows accountants to pinpoint and advise on problems and opportunities before they become issues
  • Downward pressure on fees makes it difficult for accountants to differentiate themselves
  • The four broad groups of accounting firms – lifestyle, growth, exit and niche
  • The different attitudes accounting firms have towards change in a disruptive world
  • Why there’s nothing wrong focusing an accounting practice solely on compliance
  • How technology is helping accountants to be so much quicker and more efficient
  • Many accountants struggle to articulate the benefit of technology to clients and the need for good sales skills
  • How the generation gap plays out in accounting when it comes to technology
  • How accountants can add value in a digital world by making the clients life as easy and free as possible
  • Case study – what is it actually like for someone looking for a new accountant
  • The two reasons why accountants don’t sit comfortably with the word ‘selling’
  • Why the technical nature of accounting makes it difficult to learn the skills of communication and selling
  • It’s what clients ‘don’t know that they don’t know’ that can add massive value from the accountant
  • The struggles accountants have with positioning and selling their advice
  • A lot of accountants like the idea of selling more advisory services but struggle with how to do it
  • Why it’s difficult for accountants to position and sell advisory services without a tool or platform like the GAP Portal
  • The problem of scalability of advisory services – it’s not enough to have one or two champions in an accounting firm who can sell it
  • Selling accounting advisory takes a different set up skills to selling audit and regular compliance work
  • Interpersonal skills – the missing ingredient that helps accountants sell advisory to clients
  • Advisory for accountants opens up a much more interesting career path for young professionals than mere compliance
  • Big problem for accountants in doing advisory work is charging for it – it’s hard to break away from years of pricing in a particular way
  • Compliance isn’t dead for accounting firms – many accountants still excel at and really enjoy that critical side of the work
  • In order to provide the best service to clients, you need lots of weapons and ammunition
  • The best accountants build up a network of useful, trusted professionals they can introduce to their clients
  • The accounting profession is the second most highly trusted profession behind healthcare
  • Learn three great questions to get the advisory conversation on the agenda.

Phil is regularly asked to speak on the changing landscape and future of the accounting services market and has published a book It’s All About The Value; a simple step by step approach to help small businesses improve the effectiveness of their selling activities. Find out more at or to contact Phil directly:

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