Selling to Serve by James Ashford

What is this book actually about?

The book is primarily aimed at accountants who manage their own practices, to fundamentally change their approach to selling accountancy services. The author has a passionate belief that accountants can change lives and that accountancy practices in the traditional sense are not practices but businesses in their own right.

I founded Ekstra Accounting Solutions, an accountancy business because I too have the belief that I can have a positive impact on my client’s business, either through helping them to resolve issues, enabling growth, adding value, thus changing a business owner’s life by empowering him/her to achieve their business goals and dreams.

James Ashford the author (who is an accountant and has his own accounting business) champions “The 7 systems” as the key method to provide greater value, wow clients and build a scalable business.

System 1 – The Attract system

The attract system is where you identify your ideal client and attract them in the highest quantity and quality. You must know WHO you want and equally as important WHO you don’t want as a client. At, Ekstra Accounting Solutions, I want to work with SME’s who are at any point in the five stages of the business lifecycle.

System 2 – The Nurture system

The author suggests that in a lot of instances this system is rarely in place. This is where you connect with prospective clients and “nurture” them over a period of time to the point they become aware and confident that they can benefit from your services. There is no defined period of time for this, it could be weeks, months or years. In my opinion this is all about building relationships with business owners, so that when they need that help, they will come to you already knowing what you can do for them as oppose to going somewhere else.

System 3 -The Sales system

The outcome of any successful sales system is the conversion of a prospective client or interested party into a paying client. It is where that relationship is defined. The author sets out a series of steps that he recommends you take your client through from the point of registration of initial interest to the actual sign up, in a process that he calls “The Blueprint” that includes indicative timescales for each phase.















System 4 – Onboarding system

Onboarding is where you make the greatest impact by creating the right “first impression”, making it super smooth to onboard your client with the minimal pain for them. It is extremely important that you have mapped out the processes involved in that for the different types of situations that present themselves e.g. transfer from another type of accounting system, starting with a manual system or transferring from another accountant.

Systems 5 -The Delivery system

Once onboard, delivering what the customer/client expects maximises the lifetime value you provide for your clients. Automate all of the routine processes and free up time to “add value” in quick turnaround times. This is what clients really want, to see results in the fastest time possible which then enables a more deep and meaningful relationship to be formed with your client.

System 6 – The Finance system

Clear, transparent pricing maximises your income by ensuring that you have the correct pricing policy/model in place. Combined with the most robust payment system means everyone knows exactly how much they are paying, what they are paying for and when they are paying it. It helps immensely with both cashflows.

System 7 – The Staffing system

This is about attracting, recruiting and developing the best people into your business. Growing your business is as much about people as it is about selling. When your business expands it only works when you have robust processes and procedures in place.

The remainder of the book examines why we systemise, more information is shared about the actual sales system and there is more detail on “The Blue Print”.

Be more profitable

A separate chapter is dedicated to how the authors software “GoProposal- The 3-minute proposal tool” works. The underlying concept is that it calculates prices based on three key criteria:

  • Size of the business based on level of turnover
  • Frequency of service provided (Weekly, fortnightly, monthly or annually)
  • Number of transactions to be processed by activity

The author also recommends that you introduce from the beginning quarterly fee reviews and to use the Gloss™ method which focuses on Goals, Location, Obstacles, Speed and Services

My opinion of “Selling to Serve”

I have introduced the authors software “Go Proposal” into my accounting business and I can honestly say it is one of the most valuable decisions I have made to date. The whole idea of putting together a pricing policy for my prospective clients, gave me several sleepless nights where I was trying to work out how I would cover my costs and be competitive in already crowded market. However, at the back of my mind I knew that a fixed fee per month was what I wanted to do, yet I still struggled (even as an accountant) on how I would work this out. Then I found Go Proposal and just like magic the problem instantly disappeared.

Receiving the book (signed by the author) was a lovely personal touch. More importantly the guidance, tips and advice inside I have found so useful. I keep going back to it and highlighting different sections. Whilst my practice is small at present, I am working towards implementing all of the steps that is proposed because I honestly believe these have been derived from genuine experience and for the right reasons. Also, the advice is practical which is extremely important when you are starting out on this journey. The author even provides example videos on how he has done this for his accountancy business.

I am so glad that I have read this book at the start of my business journey and have become part of the “Go Proposal community”. I can’t wait for the author to write his next book and would love to have him as a mentor. He has so much enthusiasm and energy it is infectious! If you have read this book, or are now inspired to read it, I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on it. You can get in touch with me in the following ways:

Email         Linkedin

Phone             07458 302 512                          Facebook