While visiting Thriveal’s Deeper Weekend event, I was in the audience when Ron Baker asked, “Ever wonder why accountants have a hundred expense accounts and only one revenue account?” He followed it up with the supporting reasons why CPAs should be paying more attention to revenue than expenditures. He made a good case.
Hearing Ron Baker’s thoughts on the subject has sparked my interest in how CPAs should be interacting with the sales efforts of their customers. We’ve been doing it for a while here at TW&P, so I decided to catalog the examples of how we help in sales. Here are six ways TW&P works with customers regarding their sales cycle.
- CPAs often understand numbers and statistics better than anyone inside their customers’ business. They also tend to understand information systems well. It’s a natural fit for accountants to be able to set up a CRM to track information that more directly displays behavioral patterns among the sales force.
- CPAs should be bloodhounds for their clients. Just like bloodhounds can track their target for miles, accountants have a nose on them that allows them to sniff out profits from a mile away. They can help direct their clients into sales in new geographical territories, vertical markets, or new products/services thus improving profits immensely.
- CPAs can tool the ledger to track profitability by a specific sales dynamic. They are generally referred to as profit centers (or classes if you’re on QuickBooks). It’s just a grouping that allows the PnL to be cross sectioned to show profits by various means. For example, you could show profits by a geographical territory, sales team, product group, customer type, and so on.
- CPAs can make the unseen seen. They can create the visual business insights that allow patterns to easily be identified and acted upon. They can then create dashboards, scorecards, etc. that show an owner what knobs to turn and levers to pull to modify sales to be more profitable. In addition, they can review these tools weekly or monthly to help the client understand clearly what action needs to be taken.
- CPAs are in a good position to help business owners create proper incentives for their sales force. Mismatched incentives are a waste of money. However, if you structure your sales force compensation package to best produce the result you’re looking for then incentives become a very powerful tool.
- CPAs also tend to be risk averse, so by getting involved in the sales process at customers, they can ask questions regarding the likelihood of certain products/services going south in particular sales engagements. Since they’ve likely seen many businesses and many sales teams they can help business owners avoid unknowingly engaging in high-risk activities.
- CPAs understand the cash flow of their clients’ businesses better than anyone. Therefore, they can help their customers structure terms of the deals the sales team is pursuing in a way that eases cash flow and reduces interest paid to the bank.
If you’re not involving your CPA in your sales cycle, you’re missing a big opportunity. You’re also taking a risk because if your competition involves their CPA they may just strategically eat your lunch one bite at a time since they have a bloodhound sniffing out opportunities that you may not notice.
For more information on understanding the how CPAs should be involved in the sales process, reach out via LinkedIn or tweet me @james_h_j.
James H Johnson CPA.CITP, MBA, CGMA