When should you hit that recommend button? The simple answer is never. Here's why:
As soon as you hit that recommend button you're setting the expectation that you know what you're talking about, and in doing so you're putting your reputation at risk.
Core Accounting Apps
Let's first take the scenario of recommending app in what you might call the core accounting app categories:
- Purchase Ordering
- Receipt & Invoice Processing
- Credit Control
Understanding these types of apps and recognising how they can fit into a client's business is easier (not easy) for you because you already have a good understanding of the processes involved and what needs to be achieved. You may be using these apps already yourself so you have a good understanding of, and confidence in their capabilities, which you can match to the client's requirements because you already understand their accounting processes (or what they should be).
These are the types of apps that you're going to build service competency for and consistently offer to clients because they're widely applicable across your client base. You might call this your core-app stack.
At what point in the sales process would it be a good idea to send a client to an app marketplace? Of course the answer is at no point do you want this to happen because they probably don't know it's there to start with, so you are simply providing a distraction to what you want them to do - sign up to the services you offer.
You don't want your client researching for themselves what forecasting app they might use, because you've already done that yourself, and you don't want to engage in a debate about the capabilities of one app vs another without being paid for it.
Now we're getting out of your comfort zone and in reality outside of your zone of understanding. That doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't make it your comfort zone and zone of understanding. What it does mean is you need to implement a clear process for recognising where something is beyond your competencies and the services you want to provide.
As the business's accountant you may be the only professional advisor they engage with on an ongoing basis and they trust your advice. So if you've recommended an app without really understanding their processes, problems, software requirements, and budget, the likelihood is that you could end up wasting their time looking at it, and this can erode the value the client sees in the relationship.
"Maybe they don't understand my business as much as I thought they did"
You put yourself at risk of getting the blame for all their lost hours in research, or for all the business they lost when they went ahead with implementing an app that didn't fit their requirements. There's often a lot more on the line than a Companies House fine.
Recommending apps is not as simple as scanning a directory and toggling a recommended button.
These aren't just the dangers of using the Xero's advisor-powered recommendations, they're really dangers of making app recommendations by any means without following a proper process. Check out our 5 steps to providing app advisory services.