Accounting Firms – are all created equal? (part 2 of 3)

Following on from our last post, here is the 2nd feature of great accounting firms.

2. Asking questions and listening.

Great accounting firms seem to have a higher proportion of partners and staff who ask good questions and really listen to the responses given. You would have read in my posts before the statement – if you want a better answer, then ask a better question then listen to what the client or prospective client is saying.

Here is the true story of a friend of mine and the question he asked and how it changed the way he sold his services in the future.

As an adviser to the SME market, I often tell others about an event that occurred with a potential new client back in 2008. It was a busy time of the year, and I had been referred a potential client from another professional to assist with a transaction. Needless to say, I had a busy few days leading up to meeting with the potential client and was unable to do my usually pitch approach.
When meeting a potential new client for the fi rst time, I often do research about them (where possible) and the industry that they service to get a better understanding of the client and the market that they trade in before I actually
meet with them. I would do this to assist me in identifying potential talking points.
Unfortunately, or fortunately as it turned out, I didn’t have the time to do the usual preparation and was actually 10 minutes late to our meeting. I was so unprepared that the fi rst thing I said after introducing myself was to say, “How can I help you?”

It wasn’t until the potential client spent the next hour telling me about their business that I realised how important those words were to them, and that they were actually looking for an adviser who would listen to their needs fi rst and then see where (if at all) they could add value to their business. I must admit that this changed the way I sold my services, from identifying what I could do (talking points), to actually seeing if there was a need for my services in the first place (listening points). This ensured whatever services I sold were valued. As an adviser I keep reminding existing clients that I need to know how I can help them before I can actually help them.

Tune into the next post to read the final installment in what makes an accounting firm great!

All my best,

James E.