The 3 Amigos

We left the last post with the story of 3 accounting partners serving a particular client very well for around 10 years and not even asking once for a referral or introduction t another business owner or CFO.

The reasons this CFO I was chatting with gave me for why he thinks accountants are not good at being on the front foot when it comes to be business development, for me, was quite telling. He shared with me two reasons:

1. Insecurity Most accountants are, by nature, not comfortable with moving outside areas they either don’t have much experience in or have not been specifically trained for. The classic example here is business development, sales & marketing. Accountants of course have to do it, but they don’t like doing it and unfortunately it shows.

2. They are first and foremost technicians. The CFO made an interesting comment that in his opinion the majority of accountants in public practice see themselves as technical & subject matter experts. Highly trained professionals who are paid for their expertise and advice. A lot of them see “selling” as being too crass and beneath them. Such an attitude can sometimes be clothed in arrogance and an inability to reach out to clients.

Now, the above thoughts aren’t mine – they belong to a CFO with more than 25 years experience working in commerce & industry. I would like to think he knows a thing or two!

See you next time,

James E

The danger of overselling ( 1 of 2)

Lets take a short break from the extracts of the “What do Accounting Clients Really Want?” book for the next few posts.

I had a call from a CFO friend of mine who wanted my advice on a person we both knew. Lets call this person we both knew Don as is Don Draper from the popular television series Madmen.

Don is a senior partner in a top 10 Australian accounting firm. He has 25+ years experience working in professional services as is recognised by his firm as a rainmaker, that is, someone who is able to effectively sell additional services to existing clients and win new clients. He is often described as proactive, articulate and very “client-centric” – traits that are often in short supply within partnerships in professional service firms – not just accounting, but in law, engineering, management consulting and so on.

My CFO friend called me after a presentation that Don made to him in response to a specific request for accounting services. According to my friend, Don’s presentation was both impressive & informative. However, he went waaaaaaay over the top; so much so that the CFO was simply turned off and in his own words … “it just left a bad taste in my mouth”

Hmmm … this is not a good situation to say the least. How could a senior partner who is highly skilled & experienced in the art of relationships & business development get it so wrong in what one would think is a simple and straightforward pitch? Don would have done hundreds of these presentations over the course of his career – a high proportion of which would have been successful. Whats going on?!

Tune into next post to find out about Don’s dilemma!

All my best,

James E.

Is passion enough?

The other day I met a potential candidate on behalf of a client of mine. Lets call her Cameron as in Cameron Diaz.

Cameron was a lovely lady in her early 30’s. Bright, warm and friendly. After the first five minutes of our coffee meeting I felt I had known her for years.

Cameron is a senior accountant with a highly technical background and a wonderful skill-set in problem solving and working on complex projects with big end of town clients. In addition, she has a passion and enthusiasm for her work that is contagious. I think it would be safe to say that there would probably be around a couple of hundred professionals with her particular skill-mix in Australia. I’m not joking … she is that good! This coupled with her engaging personality makes for a formidable combination.

At first glance she seems to have all the makings of a first rate professional. But there is something  missing – her ability to network and sell.

To date Cameron has focused on honing her technical & professional skills to the detriment of her capability to build effective relationships both within and outside her accounting firm. In fact during our coffee Cameron clearly stated that it was only in the last year or so that she had come to realise how vitally important “networking” is.

As I think I’ve said in past posts I hate the word networking.  The word has unfortunately come to represent the attitude and behavior of  “what can I get out of other people.” I don’t want to sound twee about it, but true networking is about meaningful relationships. In Cameron’s case she has not spent the time to identify, establish and cultivate relationships in the wider community. For it is these relationships with others that will help her on her way to building new business contacts and deepen her bonds with existing clients.

Cameron is not yet a Partner in her firm. If she wants to not only be a Partner, but an effective, one she needs to learn how to build relationships and sell her services. Her passion for the profession is (sadly) not enough.

So how can Cameron do this? Tune into the next post!

All my best,

James E