It’s a standing joke that accountants and bookkeepers don’t ‘speak’ the same language; but there’s an even bigger problem that exists between the bookkeeper (the chicken) and the business owner (the little duck). Levi Strauss once said, “The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.” Too often bookkeepers talk to clients about the books and leave unspoken the bigger questions. What is often missing is a confidence and a competence in communications.
Skills for success
Confidence in the value of one’s services or the lack thereof, stems from a lack of competence. i.e. skills – especially communications. And this is a critical junction for the industry where technology and the divergence of advisory work is rapidly spreading across the industry.
Consider what is important in communicating with a prospective client. When you start talking to someone who is showing interest in the services you offer, whose speaking is the most important? You might think that the correct answer is “yours” because you are the one that can tell the other person about what you offer and “get them more interested,” but you would be wrong! The most important person speaking is the potential client!
Most of us will have experienced a time when the anxiety of ‘pitching’ to a new client meant you talking far too much, therefore losing the opportunity to understand what the client’s deeper concerns were. Sales trainers talk about the “70/30 rule”. The 70/30 rule says that in a conversation with a potential client the potential client should be speaking 70% of the time; you, the ‘sales’ person, should aim for 30%.
Communicating your value
The simple premise is: you can’t ever convince someone to buy; people convince themselves and they have less opportunity to do that if YOU are doing all the talking.
Words and language – communications skills – are premised on both speaking (presenting) and listening.
If communications is minimal and perfunctory, then the opportunity is lost to add value to your basic service. Each deliverable or each element of the, for example, EOY accounts or reports should be expanded and used as an opportunity to open up higher value services. Communication skills will significantly enhance your ability to talk to potential clients.
The 70/30 practice is not a sales conversation; you are cultivating the art of being a good listener, deepening conversation, and training in an essential skill that, ultimately, brings others out in conversation.
Small business owners do not want to be burdened by back-office paperwork; they want management information that helps them grow revenue and the value of their business.