10 Steps to Being a Xero Gold Partner

By Posted in - The Public Blog on August 29th, 2013 19 Comments

When we were doing the final check of our new website before it went live today, I  happened to notice that a number of the accounting and bookkeeping firms in the ‘testimonial display widget’ on the home page are prominent Xero Gold Partners in the Xero community.

That wasn’t the surprising part.

How To Become A Xero Gold Partner

We create plenty of Xero Gold Partners. We also tend to attract them.

‘Evangelising’ Xero as a great tool for business advisors, and introducing it to accountants over the past 4 years has been fun. It just evolved, because we use and love Xero in our business, we love the cloud and the app eccosystem they are developing—Xero really is a platform, more than just an app—and we often use it as an example in our case studies on marketing and how to sell, in our Academy videos and Masterclass workshops.

What did take us by surprise (in the pleasant sense of that word!) was when we worked out with the help of the Xero Partner website that 15 of the 18 firms are Xero Gold Partners.

83.3% of them.

Nice.

There are a number of reasons why that is, on multiple levels.

When I thought through, “What do these firms 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’…

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Embrace it: Fully implement Xero in your own business. You need to 100% walk your talk if you’re recommending Xero to your clients.
  5. 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. (Tip: It helps to have defined niches. We teach niche marketing strategies in Module 1 of our Academy). 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.”
  6. Encourage your clients to attend Xero Customer Training webinars Links: AU, NZ, US, UK, Global. Use the country selector dropdown in the lower right corner of that web page to select your country.
  7. Start blogging, tweeting, and doing eNewsletter articles about aspects of Xero (Our Automatic Marketing services make this super simple and time-efficient for you.) Get your marketing material and your website looking great too. Use a web developer like PracticePlus who understands accounting businesses, understands the cloud, and who truly gets how important the design aspects are on websites.
  8. Start running your own webinars and client workshops. If you’re not comfortable running webinars or client education events just yet, get in an expert like Wayne Schmidt (formerly of Xero, now CEO of Addon Success) to run an event or two for you. You’ll achieve a big impact, quickly. Modern marketing is largely about education, not traditional promotion.
  9. 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.
  10. 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. Teaching firms about how to do all this is our passion. It’s fun and the ROI is quickly measurable.

Clearly Gold Partners don’t bring 100 clients across to Xero by accident. It takes focus, follow-through, execution.

The list above is not exhaustive. There are many other strategies you can use.

What’s been your experience? I’d love to hear your tips about what has worked well for you, in bringing clients across to Xero, and attracting new clients who want to implement Xero?

Share in the Comments box below.

 
Summary
Article Name
10 Steps to Being a Xero Gold Partner
Author
Description
Xero Gold Partners have common traits. They do certain things differently from other firms. How many of these 10 steps is your accounting practice doing?

(19) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Adele Wardley - Reply

    August 29, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    So many things to say, but the most important is commitment. Commitment from the Partners/Directors. Then stick to it. If you really want it you’ll find a way to make it happen.

  • Jason Forbes - Reply

    August 29, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Great post MC. Invaluable insight for Xero Practices looking to ramp things up. I’ve become a huge fan of Practice Paradox having seen first hand the impact you have had on some of my top Xero partners as a QLD Xero senior account manager. MC’s industry experience is gold for accounting practices!

  • Jeremy Harris - Reply

    August 29, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    Thanks for putting this up, MC. I think it’s a really useful list.

    I think that as human beings we all have an emotional and mental capacity to take on new things, as well as a physical capacity to deliver. Initially I was a Xero resister for that reason – for months I kept telling myself it was something that I really should look into, but I just felt I couldn’t take on any more change. Attending one Xero roadshow changed that – I immediately saw the benefits and the possibilities, and so could my team.

    I believe that, once an opportunity such as a major move to Xero is identified, then pursuing it must be carried out with a project management focus. For me it has been important to set goals, create strategies to work towards those goals, and review the goals – all within the framework of what suits my capacity. This is especially the case with respect to moving existing clients. For new clients, I agree with the Xero only no exceptions approach as the ideal.

    The points above provide an excellent structure for the groundwork and marketing. The extension of that are the structures around sales conversations (including point 9 above) and the migration process for individual clients.

    If we had followed the points above, I’m sure that we could have reached 100 Xero organisations quicker. As to whether we would have been ready for that is a different matter – the relevance of being aware and accepting of capacity.

  • Michael - Reply

    August 30, 2013 at 2:17 am

    @Adele that’s great advice. Commitment is key. We say it’s a flow of Decide > Commit > Do > Adjust. (then rinse, repeat!) Great to see you guys doing so well. Exciting path you’re on.

  • Michael - Reply

    August 30, 2013 at 2:20 am

    @Jason great to hear from you. What are some other tips you could share about going from ‘Zero’ to ‘Xero Hero’? I know you and your team run a lot of events for firms. How does a firm make that happen?

  • Michael - Reply

    August 30, 2013 at 2:28 am

    @Jeremy great points about capacity and readiness. The Project Management focus is good advice. Inherent in that, deciding on an end point (e.g. Gold Partner by a specific date), then work backwards to work out the milestones required, by when, to achieve that.

    Yes, there is a lot that we could drill into around the sale conversations and the migration process. Each is a combination of art and science.

    I love how you’re now running a monthly webinar yourselves, about Xero. Not many firms are stepping outside of their comfort zones to that extent. Great ROI and leverage when done well. Keep that habit pattern going, and we’ll steer and finesse your efforts on that front.

  • David Rynne - Reply

    September 2, 2013 at 11:54 am

    @Jeremy raises a really good point and something that I would like to add my 2cents to.

    As accountants, we are not in the business of selling Xero subscriptions. Our role first and foremost is advisors to business. Chasing subs for “status” without having a solid foundation of being able to deliver quality service these customers effectively can damage your goodwill and maybe, indirectly, put Xero in a negative light.

    Secondly we saw the nasty aspect of the chase for subs with an emotional call for action from Xero by the bookkeepers at the conference.

    My practice is Xero Silver and I expect to hit Gold maybe early next year at this rate. However, being on my own is a tough slog and I have decided to slow things down while I work on my systems and back office.

    Thanks for the post MC. Good meeting you at Xerocon.

  • Michael - Reply

    September 2, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    @David, fantastic point. Absolutely. Accountants didn’t earn their Trusted Advisor status by accident. Always acting in the clients’ best interests underpins all advisory work. But I’m very glad you raised the point of context — that is, it depends where a firm is in its journey as to what their focus is.

    I know a number of firms that would struggle to make Gold Partner because they deal with a relatively small number of clients. They service them extensively (CFO level) and so have healthy revenues (and a lot of fun and less stress) in working with only a handful of what we term ‘High Clientshare Clients’. (Clientshare being a measure of how many services the firm provides per client.) So for them, even though they have all their clients on Xero, they’ll never be a Gold Partner and clearly that is not on their radar.

    Hey, makes me think that Xero could have some other type of ‘status’/'badge’ of “100% Xero” where firms can display that if all their clients are on Xero, regardless of how many clients they have. Do you know if Xero has anything like that in the pipeline? What do you think of that as an idea, by the way? Would you care or be motivated by a “100% Xero” concept/status/badge/pat-on-the-back?

  • David Rynne - Reply

    September 3, 2013 at 7:10 am

    @MC : Yes. There needs to be some more kudos and recogniton for the quality, smaller accounting firms out there, especially the ones which are cutting edge, at the forefront of the ‘social accounting’ revolution.

    I operate in a regional area as a solo chartered accountant and proud to be 100% Xero. But it is tough to get attention sometimes when we lack the scale and marketing budget of the biggger firms. This is why I focus on marketing the personal brand and quality service.

  • Michael - Reply

    September 3, 2013 at 8:01 am

    @David I’ll pass the ’100% Xero’ idea onto Xero. They may well have considered this idea previously, but I’ll +2 it from you and me.

    Re your comment “lack the [...] marketing budget of the bigger firms”, keep in mind that content-driven marketing is extremely cost-effective once you learn the skills. We usually tell firms to stop wasting their money on traditional marketing spends such as advertising. Growthwise–who went through our Modern Marketing Academy and learnt the high-leverage marketing strategies from us–always proudly says, “Our marketing budget is $0″… apart from learning the skills.

    If you haven’t already, take a look at the Growthwise Case Study http://practiceparadox.com.au/project/growthwise/ and the A Squared Advisers Case Study http://practiceparadox.com.au/project/a-squared-advisers-accountants/ We decided from Day 1 to price what we do in a way that allows all firms to afford our services — as opposed to the typical premium pricing approach of many coaches and consultants that can leave people wondering if they have actually achieved an ROI, A Squared Advisers, for example, started with us in The Academy before they even had one client. Now they are Gold Partners and growing steadily within their chosen niches (a strategy we teach).

    Your comment about lacking scale is a different though related matter of course. Scalability is one of my favourite topics because it’s one of the ‘must have’ ingredients in order to have a good business (and a good lifestyle). How you resource your service delivery (and the tech aspects, which I know you’re fully across) allows you to leverage your efforts as a smaller firm. These days there are many options on the resourcing front.

    Just want to make sure your ‘tough to get attention’ comment was not a limiting belief that might cause you to miss seeing opportunities for growth and scaling. I certainly understand that the strong focus on Gold Partners (and soon Platinum Partners) means that (unless you’re Gold or above) the spotlight tends not to get shone on your firm via Xero.

    Perhaps a ’100% Xero’ initiative could address that? We’ll see what comes of the suggestion to Xero. Thanks for your input here. Great to exchange ideas.

  • Wayne Schmidt - Reply

    September 4, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Thanks for the mention @MC. After Xerocon the interest in having myself run client events for accounting practices has been fantastic.

    @David worth mentioning to your Xero Senior Account Manager about the 100% Xero concept.

  • Anthony Wardley - Reply

    September 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    It’s something I forgot about until recently, but agree with David. It would be good to see some recognition for other contributions to the Xero Partner status, particularly for some of the newer partners. This might include recognition for things like contributing to the Xero community, helping build Xero brand (seminars, webinars etc), testing new features, 100% Xero etc. I guess the problem is keeping it simple enough to administer from Xero’s end and their main aim is to grow market share and the existing system is focused heavily to help promote that.

    From a client’s perspective, I am not sure too many clients are concerned whether a partner is gold or silver based on discussions I’ve had – particularly for new clients from Xero’s website. The decision often seems to be linked from Xero’s website and then further investigation about each firm is undertaken (location, people, particular focus etc). Most clients wouldn’t have a clue what the gold or silver means anyway!

    In relation to the bookkeeper issue, surely Xero could have a primary bookkeeping partner and a primary accountant so that both get “credit” for the subscription if it is a big issue for many.

  • Michael Carter - Reply

    September 4, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    @Wayne, looking forward to hearing of the many wins firms achieve off the back of the events you run for them.

    @Anthony, great points re acknowledging other contributions by Xero Partners, as well as relevance to end users, in terms of Silver, Gold etc. Re the bookkeeper issue (where bookkeepers are losing Xero clients to accounting firms), I agree, the approach/model of both the primary bookkeeping partner and primary accountant getting credit, would give each their due recognition in the client/Xero relationship. I thought the Xero management team responded perfectly to that question in the open forum at the end of Xerocon AU last week in Sydney. Kudos to them.

  • Steph Hinds - Reply

    September 7, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Great tips Michael. I would add to the Commitment part and say you really need to believe what you are offering your clients will fundamentally change their business. That means knowing exactly why Xero benefits each and everyone of your clients, really knowing the product inside and out and knowing where the bottlenecks for small business normally are. Xero solves so many problems for small business owners. When you know what those problems are and you set a plan up to solve them – getting to gold is easy :)

  • Michael Carter - Reply

    September 12, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Hi @Steph. Great point about belief and it stemming from in-depth product knowledge, as well as the context for where it will help business processes. The focus of successful Xero Gold Partners is not on promotion Xero as such, it’s about helping their clients transform their business processes by taking data flows into the cloud, among many other benefits via Addon Partners.

    So… who will be the first Xero Platinum Partner in AU? Anyone you know? ;)

  • Catherine-Xero - Reply

    September 17, 2013 at 5:59 am

    @Anthony – we’re definitely doing more work on the public profiles that display in Xero where you can share more information about yourself and we can also showcase some of those things you mentioned: how many questions answered in the Community, certification, knowledge-level badges etc. Some of the early designs were shown at Xerocon in Australia recently and we’re working to get it done this year. So great idea on your part – keep an eye out for it!

  • Michael Carter - Reply

    September 17, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Hi @Catherine. Thanks for chiming in and letting us know re some of those initiatives. Good to see other contributions (other than volume) recognised. It will also be fascinating to watch the gamification effect on community engagement and motivation. I look forward to watching this unfold.

  • Julie Aquilina - Reply

    February 20, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Great tips Michael – thanks!

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