Category: Selling Tax Services

You don’t get paid until you close a tax service sale

None of us want to think about it, let alone admit it, but each and every one of us is a salesperson. If you are professional service provider, then you must first sell your services to a new client before you can ever put on your CPA, EA, or attorney hat.

This is why I always say that that most successful tax professionals study marketing and sales just as much, if not more, than they study their actual profession. Your Masters in Taxation or your LLM Tax is all and good, but to be quite honest, it doesn’t matter one bit if you’re in private practice and a high school dropout is outmarketing and outselling you. And yes, this happens. In fact, it could be happening to you without you realizing this.

This week I’m going to be talking about sales every day. We talk a lot about marketing to generate leads, and marketing to those leads over time to build a relationship with your prospects. But this week we’re going to delve into what happens after they actually come to visit you or they contact you on the phone.

Due to the fact that I consider tax resolution services to be the most difficult thing to sell within the tax and accounting sphere, I’ll be using that as the example.

There are dozens of different selling schools of thought that exist and that are taught via courses, books, and seminars. Personally, I am a firm believer in the “needs analysis” method of selling. This method has recently started to fall out of vogue in the guru universe, with a move back towards 1970’s style methods of selling in some respects, which tend to push the prospect in one particular direction and is based on creating agreement to options of the widget as you move towards making the big sales decision. For professionals services, I believe this method to be overly pushy, and would leave a prospect feeling as if they didn’t make the buying decision themselves (because they didn’t, we did). So for now, I am remaining a firm believer in needs based selling.

Needs analysis based selling also fits in perfectly with your existing concept of the “consultation”. We all know that the initial consultation is also a sales appointment, and so using needs analysis sales techniques tends to feel much more natural for most practitioners.

So what exactly is needs-based selling?

Well, … Continue reading

Transferring Telephone Sales Calls To Closers

Some tax resolution organizations will choose to use a sales model in which a team of 3 or 4 telemarketers are making the initial contact with tax debtors, and then transferring the calls of people that are actually interested to a sales closer or the licensed person on staff. This is a highly efficient sales model that ensures that the closer or licensed person is only talking to interested people and doing actual consultations, making better use of their time. The telemarketers in this case can be minimum wage employees with some sort of bonus/commission structure for sales made, or even just straight hourly.

Transfers to the closer or licensed professional can be handled one of two ways. The first way is to transfer the call LIVE, which is often more effective. The other option is to have the telemarketer set telephone consultation appointments for the closer. The latter method is often preferential for very small firms and solo practitioners. In the case of a solo practitioner operating only in their local area, these appointments can be physical, in-office appointments to discuss the tax problem, and the telemarketer must screen the prospect using a set of questions developed for that purpose, to ensure that the licensed professional can actually help them and their time is being used most efficiently.

Live Transfers

The transfer from Opener to Closer needs to be done smoothly and professionally! Once you have the call you should have an intro. For yourself that goes something like this…

“Hi (prospect) , this is (your name), I’m one of [FIRM’s] [senior consultants, attorneys, CPA’s, Enrolled Agents], and the reason (opener) transferred you to me is to take the conversation farther to see if we can be of service for you on the (tax issue) problems. OK? Now, as (opener) explained, [FIRM] specializes in resolving government tax lien problems for companies all across the country. Actually, we have clients in every state in America. Also, as you probably know we get the tax lien info from public record sources. Anyway, (opener’s) notes state that you owe the (IRS / State) approximately ($ amount) in back taxes: does that sound right?”

[Remember, you always want to be asking questions that either get you YES answers, or that ENGAGE the prospect in CONVERSATION.]

After receiving a YES answer, or engaging in conversation about the correct tax debt amount, continue with the script:

“What I need to … Continue reading

Can Tax Debtors Actually Afford Your Tax Services?

This is probably the most common question I get from CPA’s in particular. The key is collecting your retainer up front. If I know that a situation is going to take, say, $3,000 to resolve, then I tell the client that up front. I’ll let them pay on a retainer basis like a lawyer does in installments, but I insist on an up-front minimum of either 1/3 of what I expect the total to be, or $1,000, whichever is greater.

The next question that usually follows is this: These people and businesses owe back taxes, which implies they’re broke, so how do they pay you?

This comes down to selecting those businesses and individuals with a high cash flow, so they CAN pay you. There’s a little trick for selecting the best leads to start with, actually.

Here’s the secret: The average 1040 tax debtor owes for 3 or 4 years worth, and the average business lien will cover a median of 4 quarters worth of 941 taxes. Knowing that, and knowing the tax rates, you can work backwards from the tax debt amount, make an assumption regarding the ratio of penalties/interest to tax, and arrive at roughly how much their AGI or quarterly payroll is.

Based on what you’re comfortable with, you can then set a criteria for whom to work with. If you are comfortable bringing on clients with a $40,000 per year income, then you can find the tax liens to mail to and call that have that income level, based on their tax debt amount. If you’d rather work with clients that have a minimum six figure income,
and therefore are more likely to be able to afford your services, then you select the appropriate tax debt minimum. A lot of $100k to $150k earners with insufficient withholding or estimated tax payments will accrue roughly $10k to $15k per year, plus maxing out penalties, then multiply by 3 years, gives you a minimum lien amount of about $40,000 if you want six figure earners.

Do note, however, that these tend to be more sophisticated consumers, and therefore require better marketing systems to get them to come on board clients.

The same applies to payroll tax debtors. The higher their payroll, obviously the greater the business cash flow. I have found 8 to 10 percent to be a good number to use as a rough average for withholding across employees, plus of … Continue reading