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I had a great live call the other day with the Blumer CPAs Creative Coaching Course I run online.  We were discussing the book Start With Why by Simon Sinek, and eventually found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a discussion about ‘Value Experiences.’

One of my clients began sharing the virtues of wine.  I perked up.

If you don’t know anything about wine, then you may not be willing to pay for the $10 glass at dinner.  You’ll settle for the $3 glass of wine.  But, if some friend invites you out to a fun wine tasting, then you may actually learn a thing or two about tannins, bouquet and petillant.

Definition

As I see it, a ‘Value Experience’ is a history of many related experiences that can allow a customer to properly perceive the value of a service or product.

In our discussion during the coaching course, we related it to whom we serve in our businesses and why.  And we eventually came to the conclusion that it is difficult to properly serve a customer that does not have a huge ‘Value Experience’ built up sufficiently allowing them to perceive your service as valuable or not.

Let me explain with wine.  Attending a wine tasting is an experience that is meant to instruct you in the pairings of wine with food, how they enhance each other and what to look for to make your next meal a more enjoyable experience.  After this experience, your next journey with wine may be more enjoyable.  You may actually begin to appreciate why a certain type of wine actually tastes better with a certain type of food.  And you may begin to taste the difference between a $10 glass of wine and a $3 glass of wine.  You are building your ‘value experiences.’  If you can now enjoy proper pairings of wine and food, you may tend to see the value in a higher priced glass of wine, and actually begin choosing the higher priced wine at dinner…. all because you built your ‘value experiences.’

For all you lushes out there thinking about your wine at home, let me bring this back around to the CPA firm with a few questions:

What is the Value Experience of your customers?  Do you even know?

Do customers with a low ‘value experience’ [in other crappy CPA firms] perceive you as expensive?

Are customers with a high ‘value experience’ getting all of the service they expect from your price?

Can you actually vet customers and their ‘value experiences’ to determine if they are right for your firm or not?  Can you build a process around that?

When you think about it, knowing the value experience of your customer BEFORE you serve them can have huge impact on how you pitch new services, price them or even choose to accept them in the first place.  Maybe this new customer sitting in front of you (over Skype, of course) has never worked with a professional CPA firm before (low ‘value experience’).  Can they perceive your value?  Maybe not.  Maybe you are good enough to show it to them, but what price will be worth the education you give them to build their ‘value experience?’  Should you even be building your customers’ ‘value experiences?’  Maybe you are best for customers with a high ‘value experience’ with other firms.  Or maybe you are great at showing the virgin clients what a real CPA firm is like!!!   Grrrrr.

I seem to have left you with more questions about ‘value experiences’ than I’ve answered.  What’s wrong?  Maybe you have a low ‘value experience’ with amazing beautifully written blog posts and you are just unable to perceive the high value of my brain-piercing writings.

Got any answers to my questions?  Leave them in the comments (if you have experiences allowing you to see value in that).

Category:
Business, CPA firm, Pricing
Comments:
5
  • On 05-25-2012 at 12:12 pm, DanTheCPA said:

    This post reminds me why it is so easy to fall into a commodities pricing, and why value pricing has to become part of your mindset. My initial reaction was thinking “my dilema is that I’m constantly meeting people who are getting the same glass of wine I’m selling for $10, for $3 across the street, because our competitors (old school CPAs) are consistently undervaluing their services. But after it sank in I realized it’s really not the same glass of wine. To continue the analogy: Across the street they are paying $3 to just get the wine and they are lucky if it takes less than 30 minutes to get to the table and they don’t end up with it spilled in their lap. I get paid $10 to pair that wine with the perfect bread and cheese plate, and get it all out in a timely fashion.

    When I meet with a potential customer with a previous low ‘value experience’ the first thing I do is identify what experiences they had (usually bad or why would they be looking for a new CPA?), and that yes I charge more, but that they can expect much more too. I then go on to outline how we handle those particular issues differently.

    Reply
  • On 05-25-2012 at 3:50 pm, Jason M. Blumer, CPA.CITP said:

    Dan, perfect analogy. I never thought of it that way. You are right – they are buying a different wine!

    It is up to us and our ability to innovate as firms to communicate to our customers that we are selling a $10 glass of wine.

    Well said!

    Reply
  • On 05-27-2012 at 10:43 pm, Magen Smith said:

    You guys just gave me a headache and realize that I am dumb because I don’t know about wine.

    Seriously though this is good stuff! Part of the problem is that people come to us wanting a basic freaking beer and we start talking to them about wine junk and optimizing their experience. I am going to have to think about how to build these processes and use my strengths to identify and enhance my customers value experience a bit more.

    Reply
  • On 05-28-2012 at 8:53 pm, Richard said:

    Great stuff Jason – love Simon’s message of starting with the ‘Why’. One of the challenges we see with accountants globally is how do they redefine themselves, and their ‘why’, when they’ve been ‘wired’ that way for so long. One way to do this would be to throw out the rules around how you ‘should’ act as an accounting professional and start with a blank piece of paper. Those who have done this tell us it’s like being a kid all over again. 85% of the human brain develops in the first 5 years of our life, so if we start all over again it should take 5 years for the profession to ‘re-wire’ itself to operate a new way. It may take longer as us adult humans have a lot of ‘rules’ that get in the way of the blank piece of paper approach. You already have all the answers in the Thrival network, I believe the challenge is in asking the profession to rethink what’s important to their clients after years of focussing on what’s important to the tax man.

    Keep leading the way – you guys are making a difference.

    Reply
    • Jason Blumer

      On 05-30-2012 at 5:04 pm, thriveal said:

      Thanks Richard for the encouragement!

      Reply

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