Consultants (specifically QuickBooks consultants) and tax and accounting firms who either employ them or refer clients to them, have started to fully embrace the idea of recommending and installing add-ons to solve many of the previously unsolvable client problems. Many have begun specializing in add-on integrations such as QuickBooks Point of Sale, BillQuick, Fishbowl, Results CRM, MISys SBM, and others. In addition to these, there are many more REAL applications that solve REAL customer problems and yet still allow the client to keep their QuickBooks installation in place. This is a compelling story for the experienced QuickBooks consultant because it allows that person to expand on existing skills while maintaining an advantage over other consultants for whom QuickBooks expertise is lacking.
Re-engagement with the existing client base. With more integration options from which to choose, many consultants are going back through their client base and initiating new projects to tackle problems around advanced inventory management, CRM, POS, mobile solutions or advanced construction management. In addition, these new technology options allow consultants to engage new, larger clients with a broader set of needs than was characteristic of the typical QuickBooks client a few years ago.
So with all these developments, the opportunities are getting more interesting every day. Do you see the similarity to how past markets thrived after the critical foundation technologies were in place? For example, imagine how difficult it would have been for Google or eBay to even exist without the Internet first becoming available. But once that foundation technology was available, literally thousands of companies were formed and thrived by harnessing the technology.
It’s essentially the same type of thing going on here with the new “open” software marketplace where applications talk to each other. That foundation makes so many solutions possible, and many of the “solutions” are more about integrating multiple systems than they are about installing any particular product. And this integration requires business process expertise from consultants who make a living by studying and implementing technologies.
At the same time these technology foundations form, the typical QuickBooks consultant is finding a whole new type of client. One that doesn’t flinch at spending thousands of dollars for their business management system, and one that has no problem assigning in-house technical experts to assist the outside consultant with the planning, design, implementation and even support of the system after it’s installed. This is a new phenomenon for the numerous QuickBooks consultants, and many are jumping at the new opportunities to become VARs for these new software solutions.
The question is whether this new world is right for your firm. To help you answer this question, consider that there are essentially two types of consultants in the small business consulting community. Some are focused techies/accountants who love working directly with clients to install/setup/troubleshoot/etc. the general ledger and add-on solutions. They continually school themselves on new techniques, technologies, software solutions, customized solutions and business process design. These are the top technicians when it comes to designing and installing the most streamlined business processes. I estimate that about 70 percent of The Sleeter Group’s Consultant Network members would fit this general description, and our network of over 600 members represents a good cross-section of the most serious QuickBooks consultants in the United States and Canada.
The other 30 percent are focused more on attracting new clients, selling complete systems and bringing teams together to solve a broad range of business process issues in the mid-range market. They are generally less technically focused, but often have teams of IT professionals, accounting/tax experts and other software experts with specific skills in QuickBooks, add-ons, industry-specific solutions and custom software development.
These people are exactly the ones who can take full advantage of these new opportunities. If this is you, consider becoming a VAR for a few best-of-breed add-on solutions and foster close relationships with vendors who can feed leads to you and help you qualify, sell, install and support their solution.