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A Beauty Parade of Accountants

Do clients even want tax advisory services from their accountant?

The truth?

Yes, some do. The majority just don’t understand the true value.

As a client, an SME/OMB client, I held a beauty parade of accountants, just over a year ago now. This is my open and honest account of my experience.

So, the truth? I found it incredibly hard to see the difference between them in the way they pitched their services to me as a prospective client, very samey.

What I wanted them to do, none of them actually did.

As a result, they didn’t connect with me on an emotive level and missed out on a wealth of areas they could have assisted me with, allowing them to demonstrate value, clearly differentiate themselves and in the process maximise their fee potential.

What I wanted them to do was this:

Ask me about my goals. Not just my business goals (which some but not all did), but my family and individual goals as well. I think “Listening” to family and individual goals is incredibly powerful, it allows you to “connect” on a relatable and emotive level. So they didn’t learn about current investments outside of the business, target investments, dream investments outside of the business for myself and my family. They didn’t learn about my fears of spending far too much time in the business and not with my kids. How I’m worried about the health of my Mother and as per her request, really need to restructure her estate.

Once they had bagged my goals…properly, I would have wanted them to ask or challenge me on:

1. Where am I presently at versus those goals? If they’d have split the goals out as above, they would have found plenty of juicy stuff that was new or wasn’t working. Pain point / problem revealed for them to help solve!

2. How quickly would I like to achieve those goals versus my current position? They could have hopefully shown me how to get where I wanted to be quicker! Or on the flip side, maybe slow me down, if it was beneficial in some way!

3. What’s pissing me off? What’s preventing me from hitting those goals? That would have allowed them to probe the pain points to understand me and help me even more!

Let’s just assume for arguments sake they had done this, I’d have then been ready to hear about how all their wonderful advisory services could have helped me out. My feedback to them here was that as a client, I wanted them to discuss these services by:

(1) Being specific, with clear examples relating to those pain points…connect those dots for me, don’t assume I will! i.e. what exactly did you do for another client who “looks like me” and what was the impact on that pain point?

(2) Help me visualise why you’re different, don’t just tell me. For example, what exactly is it, about the way you deliver your tax service to me that makes you so different? Unfortunately, rightly or wrongly clients think there is no difference in the way accountants deliver their variety of service lines, so help them visualise the difference.

(3) Even better…allow me to experience that difference with either a full taste or a little taste of the way you deliver a particular service line. So, I’m not being told how you do something, or having to visualise it, I’m actually experiencing a little taste of how you would deliver that service to me and ultimately what it would be like to be your client. Personally, I’ve only truly understood anything when I’ve experienced it myself.

Out of 5 accountants I met, none did the majority of the above, throughout their prospecting process. However, one of them – the only small firm in the bunch out of the five – did stand out from the others massively. What made the guy stand out, was that he talked to me in a different way…about his similar mistakes and pain points he had experienced growing his own accounting business and managing his own life. He was personal. He was real. I suddenly didn’t see him as a professional anymore, but as a business owner, and I related to him massively for it.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, you might like to download our ebook, “You’ve got a problem, your clients don’t get tax!” – it includes client interviews, tips from accountants and a free client survey.

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