How to persuade your clients to collaborate in a digital environment

You are convinced about the benefits of working in the cloud and have already decided to introduce CODA files, OCR technology or a cloud CRM in your internal ecosystem.

You know this is the best way to move forward. Automation is required nowadays to enable new tasks in your firm with more added value than basic input processes. You know, and mentioned often in several media, that accountants are becoming more and more the Trusted Advisor of entrepreneurs.

However, you’re still struggling to persuade clients to collaborate in your new digital environment and don’t really know how to proceed with invoicing of new types of services. In the last month, we heard so many accountants adopting for instance a scanning solution but still collecting paper documents and asking the collaborators to scan themselves the documents before being processed. Where is the benefit for you? Digital maybe but no time or efficiency savings.

Clients adoption to new technologies is key and this blog will try to give you some tips to enable the onboarding of new clients in your digital journey.

Step 1. Find the early adopters, those future ambassadors

Every accountant has a least a few “IT-minded” clients ready to embrace new technologies.

These are good candidates!

You won’t need to educate them on the benefits of working digitally. They will see the benefit of pushing their documents on a portal and being able to pay them directly with a QR code, to share them with you or get their instant financial results. They will find it valuable, embrace this process within a week and will talk about it around them.

Those who adopt as soon as possible each new smartphone model, gps for bike, electric car or connected devices in their own house.

A second type of early adopters are those who are a bit more sceptical and slower to persuade. They are not against it but need to see the added value for them. They are equipped in terms of devices, the latest pc or mac, they have a scanner and/or a smartphone.

What would be the benefit for them to collaborate with you in a portal? What will be the impact on your invoice? Be prepared to discuss the benefits for your clients and the impact on your invoiced fees!

Then there is the new client. Why not putting in place a new digital process that is mandatory for every new client? To onboard them directly with best of class digital processes enabling more efficiency and customer’s satisfaction. They will probably be surprised but this is maybe a necessary resolution to make things change.

Lastly, keep in mind and accept that not every client you have will be a good fit for a digital way of working. This is part of the game.

Step 2. Endorsing the sceptics

This particular group of clients probably represents the majority of your clients.

Supporting them by first providing some advice on how to become more digital themselves might be a strategic decision.

What would be the benefit for them of working with a digital platform where they can store and share documents with you?

Consider installing for them one of the easier to use scanner directly connected to an online drive account or an intelligent digital platform.

Some of those digital platforms offer extra services like OCR or direct payment of invoices. They can also be directly connected to financial services to provide bank statements and some cash and bookkeeping reports.

They are probably used to drop that shoebox every quarter, in last minute, even if you have sent 3 reminders.

Just consider case by case what could be the benefits per client per category. Those with heavy needs in invoicing, those who have a lot of expenses, those who have cash flow issues and require more insight on their daily business.

Focus on first instance on the benefits for them. It will become automatically a benefit for you as soon as they start sharing their scanned documents with you!

Step 3. How to move forward

Once you’ve decided which of your clients are the best candidates to enrol in a digital collaboration mode, the first thing to do is to setup a meeting with them

The best way to manage this meeting is to focus on every benefit the client can get from following your advice and adopting new tools or working processes. What’s in it for him – this is the key element to succeed in this transformation journey.

In this explanatory meeting, don’t forget to mention the security topic. Data protection remains central and possibly a major fear for some of your clients. Don’t hesitate to ask your suppliers to inform you in advance on how data are secured on their datacentre so that you can provide all necessary information to your clients.

There are solutions on the market offering an all-in-one platform for less money than a meal at Mc Donald’s.

Another key topic to mention is related to budget. How much will it cost? We are all the same. We don’t like to spend money when we don’t see a real benefit or added value. However, there are solutions on the market offering an all-in-one platform for less money than a meal at Mc Donald’s. Present the cost options and see if the value proposition is there. Do they feel that they would be getting value for the money? Let the client decide whether the move is right for them and give them an idea of the steps involved.

To be very effective in this process, think about mentioning your ambassadors list. Your existing clients that are real testimonials. How are they improving their working process, how are they saving time and money by listening to your recommendations?

To help you position yourself as a trusted advisor, and discuss the real benefit for them and for their business, we offer a checklist infographic that could help you defining your customer needs and accelerate digital adoption.

Step 4. Stay up to date yourself!

The business software industry is evolving fast.

Major players are bringing new technologies in their current products, new international players are joining our market or new revolutionary and modern solutions are launched by start-ups companies who have a much contemporary vision of the digital way of working.

Whatever your choice, make sure to follow the right trends and to onboard your clients in order to move in the right direction. Make sure you have all the answers to any questions your clients might ask, especially in terms of benefits for themselves!

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