The journey to a Xero Platinum Partner is not a journey to be taken lightly. To put it in perspective, it's a journey that many Accounting and Bookkeeping firms aspire to, but few actually make it. As of writing this, there are only 6 bookkeeping businesses in Australia that have achieved this coveted status, and iKeep achieved this in less than 2 years.
The criteria that Xero Partners are assessed on takes into account:
How many Xero Certified Advisors we have in our business, and
How many clients we are working on.
This means that we need to have a balance between our internal training whilst maintaining and outward focus and delivering what our clients want.
As a small business owner, one of the most important decisions you can make is hiring the right bookkeeper. As well as being experienced, your bookkeeper needs to be highly personable and easy for you to relate to.
When I thought through, “What do we do differently to other firms? What helped them reach Gold Partner status with Xero?” I jotted down into Evernote ideas as they came to me, and it resulted in a list of 10 things.
Then I thought, “Hey, I should blog that list.” (Gotta practice what we preach!)
So I have.
And here it is.
For Xero ‘newbies’…
Forge a strong relationship with your local Xero Account Manager. You’ll need a partner and on-call resource on this journey. Don’t try to go it alone. Your Xero Account Manager has the best knowledge and best price point (free!) for helping you along your learning journey with Xero. (Plus Xero recruit very well. You’ll find your Account Manager can add a lot of value to your firm, through their general tech savvy advice.)
Understand the big picture WHY of cloud, single ledger, Xero and the Add-on Partner app ecosystem. It’s crucial to not just understand this, but to live and breathe this vision. Teaching your clients about this positions you as a Thought Leader. With only 10% of SMEs in Australia, for example, having heard of Xero (I was floored when I heard this during Rod Drury’s CEO address at Xerocon this morning) there is still huge growth ahead for them, and—by extension—for you.
If you’re new to Xero, quickly get the basic product knowledge: Don’t dabble. Dive in, learn Xero, use it—get hands-on—get really familiar with it in a practical sense. You can only effectively sell what you believe in, and you can only believe in what you understand.
Embrace it: Fully implement Xero in your own business. You need to 100% walk your talk if you’re recommending Xero to your clients.
Investigate and totally understand the software applications provided by the Xero Add-on Partners network. Focus in on those that are relevant to your clients. Document your recommended list of apps. Then master them. Many of these apps are truly mind-blowing. It’s an exciting time to be in business. You can add massive value to your clients here by guiding them and putting them on a fast-track to transforming their business processes. It’s about more than accounting. As Rod Drury says, “Accounting is the core data, but it is just the beginning.”
Start blogging, tweeting, and doing eNewsletter articles about aspects of Xero. Get your marketing material and your website looking great too. Use a web developer who understands accounting businesses, understands the cloud, and who truly gets how important the design aspects are on websites.
Start running your own webinars and client workshops. You’ll achieve a big impact, quickly. Modern marketing is largely about education, not traditional promotion.
Decide on and commit to your new modus operandi of “If you want to work with us, we’ll move you across to Xero.” There might be some rare exceptions amongst your clientbase due to legacy or custom in-house systems they are using, but in the small and medium business space, adopt this as your standard approach with new clients.
Up the ante and really become active in online marketing including blogging, social media, webinars, screencasts, SEO, landing pages and other modern marketing tools. This will allow you to effectively and time-efficiently educate your clients about the benefits of cloud computing, cloud accounting, single ledger, social accounting/ collaboration and Xero.
Clearly Platinum Partners don’t bring 500 clients across to Xero by accident. It takes focus, follow-through, execution.