Have you ever felt self-conscious when you tell people that you’re an accountant? Go to a networking meeting, or chat to a group of business owners and people often refer to the “stereotypical” accountant. Why are accountants thought to be boring? More importantly, how does that image destroy your ability to add value and your desire to become a trusted advisor and do more (higher fee) advisory work?
The accountant stereotype
Boring, introverted, bean counters? OK, you and I know that these are untrue, so why does the stereotype exists? Even more importantly what do your clients and potential clients think?
You are supporting the stereotype if your client meetings have lots of numbers your client doesn’t really understand, doesn’t want to admit to not really seeing as important, and make their eyes glaze over a bit. (The same way as I used to swallow horrible medicine – know I need to do it, put on a brave face, but . . .)
I asked some business owners about their review meetings recently, a shocking number didn’t really see the importance of (or didn’t understand) a lot of the numbers.
The real problem with bored clients
If your clients don’t understand all of what you say, they will struggle to see the value in what you do. That moves you to the expensive-but-essential category. If you want to be a trusted advisor, rather than a boring necessity, that’s not a good place to be.
Talking to your clients
If you want your clients to think you are amazing, you need to engage with them on their terms. That means talking their language, about things that are important to them, and how your understanding of their business adds to that.
Their language means referring to things the way they do, so they’re listening before you add an important (and relevant) insight. That means not using Accounting-Speak and using specific Client-Speak.
Your client’s goals
What are they trying to achieve? How well do you know your clients; what are their dreams, aspirations, fears and worries? What are their goals, their journeys to their goals and where can your understanding of their business help them?
If you’re trying to add more value to your clients, ask them more questions and understand them better.
Nobody gets bored of what’s important to them.
If you are talking about things that are important to clients, in their language, you’re not boring; you’ve transformed into being interesting. If you are also helping them by translating the strange world of accounts into something that helps them, you’re amazing, and becoming a trusted advisor.
A trusted advisor helps by putting relentless focus on what’s important to the client and helping them get it, in ways they understand.
The future is . . .
In a world where accounting is getting more automated (a client’s words, not mine) and therefore (client’s assumptions) simpler, you need to add more value (or risk becoming a cost that can be cut). If you’re seeing margins reduce, then doing more advisory work and less compliance can help.
Listen, question, and have an absolute focus on your client’s goals, in their language; then you will never be thought of as boring.