Growing your accounting practice, part 3

How tax compliance adds to your bottom line

This four-part whitepaper examines the changing accountancy landscape and takes you step-by-step through the considerations for adding tax compliance to your current array of services to spur growth and evolution in your firm. In Part 3, we outline a strategic approach to client acquisition that will give you a leg up in assessing and obtaining new clients in order to bolster your growing firm.

Chapter 3: New client acquisition 

Now that you’re sold on offering tax compliance services, it’s critical to appropriately position your firm to the right clients.

Identify clients through business triggers

As you start to market your services, you will learn to assess your client and prospect base for trigger points that signal possible tax compliance opportunities. If one or several triggers are present, your client or prospect may have tax compliance needs:

  • Addition of new products and services or expansion into a new business area
  • Multistate sales either through traditional sales or online transactions
  • Expansion to remotes offices
  • Audits

Awareness and use of these triggers help you identify new business opportunities to provide tax compliance and advisory services

Attracting the mainstream buyer

For many years, the demand for automated compliance solutions has been driven by early adopters; businesses that were comfortable using technology and systems to streamline their operations. These adopters tended to be risk-taking visionaries, willing to experiment with early stage products that were “good enough” to proof new concepts and business approaches.

Today, however, tax compliance automation has gone mainstream — tens of thousands of businesses have already automated their compliance. The same is true for accounting firms. An increasing number of firms have adopted technology to manage their clients’ accounting needs. These firms use technology to provide basic bookkeeping services as well as advanced, complex accounting services.

As a result, the typical purchaser has shifted from early adopter to established buyer of technology. These more established buyers tend to be more pragmatic than early adopters when leveraging technology to achieve their business goals. For them, technology is simply a means to an end, not the goal itself. Therefore, you will want to focus your conversation with clients on the business value you provide, not the technology being used.

Mainstream clients lean toward driving incremental efficiencies in their business rather than creating big conceptual breakthroughs. They want to use the best processes and procedures available that fit their circumstances. Therefore, when you approach mainstream clients it is important to emphasize how your compliance services align with their “do it right” mentality and the benefits of using technology to achieve their goals.

Here’s what else you need to know about the mainstream buyer1.
They typically:

  • Are focused on getting a good result through industry-standard products
  • Are willing to pay a premium for a high-quality solution that is well tested and stable even though they are price sensitive
  • Require assurances that the chosen solution will give predictable results and fit into existing organizational structures and procedures
  • Seek validation of their decisions from peers in similar companies
  • Rely on detailed planning and validation methods (ROI models), KPIs, and metrics to ensure potential changes will be successful and sustainable
  • Will go to great length to assure the selected solution is adopted as a standard so the overall organization will benefit from proven efficiencies

How do you attract the attention of these buyers? Since a mainstream buyer’s number one need is for reliable solutions that are sustainable, the successful accounting firm will position themselves as offering loyal, deep, long-lasting relationships. Your firm’s high-quality service and support should be the key points of your marketing and promotional messaging.

Mainstream purchasing lifecycle

As you define your marketing and messaging, it’s helpful to consider the purchasing stage of your prospects.

Some prospects may be early in the tax compliance awareness and purchasing cycle. As such, they tend to be unclear on their requirements and expectations. To address their uncertainties, you may want to offer “freemium” options to entice them to try your services.  As these clients validate the value of your compliance services they will formalize their expectations.

Prospects further along in the cycle may already be familiar with compliance solutions and have defined requirements and expectations. For these late stage prospects, you may want to offer service packages with clearly defined scope and outcomes.

Up next: Part 4 takes you in-depth into the staffing, sales and marketing, and subscription pricing strategies that will help your growing firm succeed.

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