“The shopping experience is very different for women than men; the male shopper’s experience is still the default position for many, even most, firms. And yet it is an unimpeachable fact that women are the premier purchasers–of damn near everything. (My message: Wake-up-ASAP-and-smell-the-enormous-opportunity.)” – Tom Peters
Tom Peter’s weekly quote (I get it every Monday), made me think of CPAs working in public accounting, for a couple of reasons.
One, most male CPAs target their sales to male business owners. I have observed that selling to a female business owner is not their main focus. I have also observed that sometimes the male even feels, and acts, awkward in these situations.
Males: Study, research and read about how to sell to females, practice better listening, learn body language, etc. It will also help you in managing your workforce. Also, when you are selling to a male, remember that there is a woman behind him probably telling him who to hire as their CPA.
Two, most accounting graduates are female. You are hiring a lot of them. Begin educating, teaching, and coaching them immediately on how to develop a relationship with a business owner or decision maker. Once the relationship is established, they can ask for their business.
Females: Don’t hide from business development assignments. Ask to accompany partners on visits to clients and future clients. Schedule lunches with attorneys who also serve your clients. Network in your business community as much as possible.
Selling professional services is all about building relationships – virtually and in person. Women have natural talent in this area – capitalize on it.
You don't earn loyalty in a day; you earn loyalty day by day.
If you are a CPA firm in Ohio, southern Michigan, eastern Indiana, northern Kentucky, western Pennsylvania or West Virginia, the Association for Accounting Administration OHIO Chapter is providing a timely and affordable learning opportunity to leverage the power of LinkedIn for your firm. If you cannot attend, you should send at least one representative from your firm.
Here’s the information from the Chapter:
Leveraging LinkedIn to Grow Your Accounting Firms Business and Influence
LinkedIn is a powerful tool for sales and business development…when you know how to use it correctly! Both the inherent features of LinkedIn as well as the paid advertising features provide many options to help companies of all shapes and sizes generate new business leads. However, used incorrectly and you can find yourself banned from access to your most prized prospect pool or possibly kicked off LinkedIn all together.
The power of LinkedIn and leveraging everyone in the firm for visibility and business growth
Firm control and management of social media – i.e. policy and capture software
Building profiles for business development vs. job seeking
Increasing visibility to target market via status updates and other communications
Finding prospect opportunities an introduction away
The LinkedIn Company Page and Sponsored Status updates
It all comes down to knowing how to use the Right Strategy, at the Right Time, and in the Right Circumstance.
Date: July 17, 2015
9:00a Registration and Continental Breakfast
10:00 – 12:00 Presentation (2.0 CPE)
12:00 – 3:00 Lunch and Roundtable (the roundtable discussions are a wonderful benefit)
Location: Ohio Society of CPAs, 535 Metroplace South, Dublin, OH
At many firms, practice growth efforts run hot and cold. Most CPAs are not naturally drawn to practice development efforts. Some are fairly good at marketing but struggle with actually asking for business or closing a sale. That’s why I believe that marketing, sales and other practice growth activities should be instilled in every new team member, even the new college graduates entering your firm.
Too often, years down the road, a manager is told, “We want you to become a partner but you have to bring in business.” Sometimes, the need for managers and staff to be active in practice growth has never been communicated.
Your competition is marketing and selling to your clients and prospects.
You make more money
One of the most important reasons to embrace a practice growth culture is brought home by Allan Koltin’s quote, above. The talent wars are raging. If you want to attract the best people, your firm needs to be growing.
My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.
I always remember the story from management consulting guru David Maister about his early days at Harvard. He was young and inexperienced and was trying to find his path to success. His boss didn’t rush him or pressure him but finally one day asked a simple questions that led to success, “What do you want to be famous for?”
Maister classified partners in a CPA firm into 3 categories: Dynamos, Cruisers and a few Losers. He noted that you would expect accounting firms to be a hotbed of skill building. But in his observation, that is not the case.
When it comes to partners, he found only 10 – 20% could be labeled “Dynamos” – always working to learn something new, continually building their practices in new and challenging areas. The rest of the partners, except for a very few incompetents, are Cruisers who work hard, do good work and take care of their clients but they don’t stand out as special talents.
Where do you fit? Where do your partners fit? The managing partners needs to ask each individual partner, “What do you want to be famous for?” and work with them to get there.
Robert Raiola of O’Connor Davies is my favorite example. He’s famous for helping high net worth individuals in sports or entertainment deal with taxes. He began tweeting as @SportsTaxMan several years ago and now is often quoted by Sports Illustrated and appears on various television outlets. He’s become famous as a sports tax man. Click here to see his latest Yahoo News spot about Jordan Spieth and his Masters winnings.
Next, contemplate what you could be famous for. Maybe you are ContractorTaxMan, NonProfitAuditLady or DentistAccountingGuru.
The way you get rich is don't get sucked into doing dumb stuff for people you don't like.
As I have worked with CPAs around the country, all ages and in firms of various sizes, I often am saddened by the wasted opportunities I encounter.
It’s usually a communication issue and the willingness among partners to be absolutely open and honest. Someone might get their feelings hurt. There might be an uncomfortable feeling within the group for a while… but it doesn’t last if everyone is focused on “the good of the firm” and not on their own, personal agenda.
Here are some examples of where change is a roadblock to opportunity (these are fictional, gathered from various interactions over my 30+ years working in the CPA profession):
A capable, experienced, passionate managing partner is prohibited from making the firm future-ready because she is constantly dealing with bickering partners.
A firm located in a great market never capitalizes on growth opportunities because they have made several people a partner when these people do not market, do not sell, do not network in the business community and some have actually never-ever brought in a new client.
A firm has a great expansion opportunity in a not-too-distant market, it slips through their hands because no partner will commit to being the champion of that endeavor. They are too comfortable with status quo.
A great merger opportunity falls through because ONE of the partners in the firm being acquired kills the deal usually because he knows he wouldn’t measure-up in the new environment.
These are some fairly major change-is-needed examples, however, I see firms miss opportunity because of unwillingness to change some simple, day-to-day activities.
In these firms, partner meetings turn into repeat discussions of old issues and Opportunity moves on down the road.
The wheel of change moves on and those who were down go up and those who were up go down.
Jeffrey Gitomer focuses on sales. If you are a CPA, you are a salesperson! So, learn to be a great one! I hope you follow Gitomer and absorb just some of what he promotes!
I became acquainted with his stuff when, many years ago, I read his book, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude. I bought copies for my firm’s entire administrative team. Maybe you should, too.
I have read almost every one of his books since then. Sure, he’s “sales” but what he says certainly applies to CPA professionals and their teams.
I think this video is a great message for YOU.
How do you know when to give up on a prospective client? Do they fail to respond to your proposal?
Keep in mind that you are building a relationship, not just making a sale. Take JUST TWO MINUTES to listen to Gitomer. He’s talking about demonstrating value and about not being defensive when following-up – – be offensive.
Why do they want to buy? Are you just hoping?
You should already know when they want to buy, how much they want to pay and that you’re “their person!”
A lot of CPA firms have now become more specialized. They have determined that if they are specialized and are actually experts in a certain niche, they will become well-known and more successful.
I believe that the majority of CPA firms continue to be generalists. I have even heard CPA partners joke about the fact that if, for example, an auto dealership inquires about their services and asks “Do you specialize in dealerships?” they can say, “Yes, we do.” because they have ONE dealership on the client list.
There are still a significant number of accounting firms that try to be all things to all people. Consider this from a post by Seth Godin:
“The chances that everyone is going to applaud you, never mind even become aware you exist, are virtually nil. Most brands and organizations and individuals that fail fall into the chasm of trying to be all things in order to please everyone, and end up reaching no one.”
There are some very valuable professionals, not CPAs, working in all successful CPA firms. Sometimes we take them for granted. Sometimes we don’t acknowledge the influential and important role they fill. Sometimes we don’t invest in their success.
Last week, at Winning Is Everything, Melinda Guillemette shared with CPA firm marketers – Beyond Your Marketing Role, Leadership as a Differentiator.
I really like her comments on What Do Leaders Do? – – it applies to HR directors, firm administrators, tech leaders as well as marketers – professionals often doing amazing things behind the scenes in accounting firms.
What Do Leaders Do?
Leaders motivate and inspire, both by words and personal conduct
They take risks
They see and communicate the long view, both opportunities and risks
Leaders are truthful and optimistic
They sometimes sacrifice personal interest for a greater good
Leaders help others stretch their boundaries
They make others want to follow
They SERVE. This is good news for marketers-as-leaders because – – You are in your firms to help the organization as a whole meet its goals. You are in your firms to help individuals achieve their goals
Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.
According to a recent article on Fast Company, 70% of today’s workforce is actively looking for another job or is open to hearing about a new job opportunity.
Another study tells us that a recent college graduate will hold between 15 to 20 jobs in their career. That means they are going to change jobs every three to four years. They will always be looking.
This certainly does not paint a rosy picture for CPA firm leaders. Growing firms hire extensively from the college campus and invest significant dollars in the first three years of their career in training and development. For them to leave at the end of three years is an expensive scenario. At three years, they are just at the point where they can be really productive.
Here are some trends:
Job boards are no longer the primary source used by job seekers. Job seekers, along with employers, are looking via social networking sites. Even the recruiters (the ones your firm has relied on) are finding their candidates via LinkedIn. According to a recent survey, 79% of recruiters said they found candidates via LinkedIn. 26% through Facebook and 14% via Twitter. Firm leaders are telling me that the recruiters are presenting to them the same people that they can find on LinkedIn themselves.
Here’s an important trend to follow for CPA firms. Employers will target marketing to job seekers. Accounting firms must invest in building an employer brand, just like they invest in building a brand to attract new tax and accounting clients. CPA firms can develop action steps for retention by surveying their people and talking to their people to determine what they need to do to become the CPA firm employer of choice in their market. What kind of impression does your website make on a potential new hire? It seems that the investment in, and focus on, building a unique career page on accounting firm websites no longer has the attention it had several years ago.
In-person networking is back. Since the social media space is so crowded, it’s now unique to network in person. Young people intent on building their careers and finding career opportunities are focused on building a base of “people they know.”
Do they know you and your firm? Are your people “out there” networking to identify future new hires as well as potential new clients?
In the world of public accounting it is all about the number of people you know. Using social media is key but so is face-to-face networking.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.