Do you suffer from premature evaluation?

I’ve mentioned my friend Richard White before. I’ve just read a piece on his blog that reinforces the advice I give in my talk on How to make more profits from your smaller clients. It also relates very closely to this previous posting of mine along similar lines last August. Below I’ve taken Richard’s analogy and adapted it slightly for ambitious professionals.

Imagine being in pain and going to your doctor for some help. Within moments of your arrival the doctor starts telling you, very enthusiastically, how similar your pain is to the previous patient, what is wrong with you and what medicine you need to take.

How would you feel if that happened? Would you trust the doctor? The doctor could be right but you will be more likely to trust their advice if they spent a little time finding out more about your specific pain rather than just making assumptions and talking, talking, talking!

The same is true for ambitious professionals. You need to give your prospects some credit for intelligence. You need to assume that they can tell if you are listening to them or are just interested in flogging them your services.

People do not like being sold to, but they do like to buy. Successful ambitious professionals look to build trust and a long-term relationship by working with human nature rather than against it.

If a prospect feels that you are more interested in selling your services than solving their problems then you are unlikely to gain their confidence or to encourage them to engage you to do more than the bare minimum (if that). Your relationship with the new client will always be vulnerable no matter how likeable you are.

When you meet with a prospective new client they need to feel that your focus is 100% on them and that you are going to give them the right advice for their issues. They like the fact that you have experience but they want you to apply that experience to their specific issues rather than just making assumptions.

In my posting last August I took this idea a stage further and recommended that ambitious professionals could get more favourable feedback from their clients by taking a two-step approach rather than getting straight to the answer right away. This is very similar in concept to the idea of avoiding instant diagnosis. We wouldn’t trust a doctor who operated like that so why should we expect clients to appreciate such an approach?

There is a term for the condition where professionals (or indeed anyone trying to sell their services or products) get very excited and enthusiastically sell all over the place without bothering to take an interest in their prospect’s problems – It’s called ‘Premature Evaluation’ and there is a lot of it about!!!

Like this post? You can now obtain my ebook containing loads more insights, short-cuts, tips and advice aimed specifically at accountants who want to STANDOUT and become more successful. You can buy the book or download a summary for free here>>>

by

You can charge more if you have SEX with your clients

I was speaking at the LSCA Small Practitioners’ 36th annual conference in Cambridge yesterday. The subject matter of my talk was ‘How to make more profits from your smaller clients’. I included in the talk a number of items that have appeared in this blog. Others will follow.

Also on the programme was the founder of PracticeTrack and PracticeWEB, Mark Lloydbottom. I was delighted to meet Mark and to hear him speak for the first time. He particularly caught my attention when he announced from the platform “You can charge more if you have SEX with your clients or if you give your clients SEX”.

I’m sure this idea will resonate with all ambitious professionals so, with Mark’s permission I can explain, as he did, that S.E.X is an acronymn for:

Superior skills;

Experience

eXperitse

In essence what Mark was saying, and as I have also been advocating for some time, is that our fees should not be set merely by reference to how much time we have spent dealing with the client’s affairs.

In my talks on related topics I have long stressed that clients are buying our solutions to their problems. We provide our knowledge, skills, experience and service so as to gain our clients’ trust and confidence. If we can do this and help clients to like us too, we stand a good chance of charging more than we would otherwise be able to so do.

Like this post? You can now obtain my ebook containing loads more insights, short-cuts, tips and advice aimed specifically at accountants who want to STANDOUT and become more successful. You can buy the book or download a summary for free here>>>

by

Is your firm ambitious?

As you know my focus is very much on helping ambitious professionals and ambitious professional firms.  I’ve been asked whether I can define such a firm.  Dare I say it’s a bit like a meteor – easy to recognise but not so easy to describe in detail.

My dictionary defines ‘ambition’ as a strong desire to do or to achieve something; and as a desire for success.

Success of course means different things to different people. In the same way the partners in different ambitious firms may well aspire to different achievements. I have encountered a wide range of professional service firms over the years and the more successful ones invariably ascribe their success to different factors.

Having said that I would also note that there are a number of generally accepted characteristics of successful professional firms:

If you’re an ambitious professional you may want to take a moment to consider how your firm measures up:

  • Profits in excess of £100k per partner (sometimes considerably more)
  • Consistent double-digit annual growth
  • Dynamic inspirational leadership
  • A defined firm culture
  • A positive attitude to risk
  • Consistent cross-selling
  • Actively selling non-compliance services
  • Increasing the proportion of fees that come from non-compliance services
  • A structure that allows leaders to lead
  • Clear investment strategy for the future
  • Appropriate planning procedures and systems
  • Lower than average staff turnover figures
  • Increasing use of technology across the organisation
  • Client portfolios that remain with the firm when partners leave/retire
  • …. And a genuine enthusiasm for what they do

Of course no one firm will consistently demonstrate all of these characteristics and in other firms there may be good reasons for choosing not to pursue all of them.

If you harbour ambitious dreams though you will want (or ‘desire’) to do things so as to make those dreams come true. That means taking active steps in the right direction. And that requires that you know where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.

Like this post? You can now obtain my ebook containing loads more insights, short-cuts, tips and advice aimed specifically at accountants who want to STANDOUT and become more successful. You can buy the book or download a summary for free here>>>

by

The ‘Nobody Cares’ Manifesto for professional advisers

This was originated by Dennis Howlett who suggested it was only relevant to Accountants.  In fact other than the one or two points that are clearly related to Accountancy advice the list contains more than a grain of truth that is relevant to all professional advisers.

* It’s important to remember debits are on the left and credits on the right – nobody cares. Probably because the system was invented in 1494 and hasn’t changed since.

* We work hard to earn letters behind our names – nobody cares. Importance isn’t derived from academic achievement but what you do for others.

* ROI is an important concept – nobody cares. ROI calculations are something you do when you really don’t want to help your client but to demonstrate to him/her how important you are. For which read 2.

* It’s important to keep good records – nobody cares. Clients aren’t in business to be administrators. If you can’t figure out how to help clients then expect to be outsourced. Probably the day after tomorrow.

* A tidy office implies a tidy mind – nobody cares. A tidy mind is often compartmentalised to the point of tunnel vision. You don’t see tidy at the edge of innovation. Which is where you should be when your clients come up with great ideas.

* Professionals should always wear top quality suits – nobody cares. How you look may be important if your name’s Anina but it sure as heck doesn’t matter when you’re traipsing around a pig farm. You do that occasionally don’t you?

* Your professional status among the community demonstrates integrity – nobody believes you. Professional status is over-rated. Those schmuks from KPMG in court on fraud charges sorted that one out once and for all.

* Adding value is the most important thing you have to do – nobody believes you. Clients can read a 1,000 websites and see that same vacuuous statement. Stuff your website with client stories, preferably written by clients and not some PR outfit.

by

Is the glass half full, half empty or…?

When you see a glass of wine do you consider it to be half full or half empty? (or are you a typical accountant and point out that the glass is twice as big as it needs to be?)

Ambitious accountants who are good ‘finders’ will tend to see the positive side of life.

They may not always have been optimists but they are likely to apply their knowledge, skills and experience to maximise the likelihood of achieving their preferred outcomes when networking, speaking in public, pitching for work and ‘closing the sale’.

Some people believe that optimism is a deep-seated personality trait. But is this true actually?

Psychologists have gathered compelling evidence that optimism is a skill that people can learn. At one extreme this might involve behavioural cognitive therapy (BCT) to replace negative thought patterns with constructive ones. This approach has been particularly successful in helping people fight depression which is closely linked to pessimism – the opposite of optimism. Effectively therefore it is teaching people to be more optimistic. But of course you don’t have to be ‘on the edge’ to learn how to be more optimistic. You do however need to be open to the idea. Such an attitude of mind will also help reduce the prospect of you coming across as boring.

Like this post? You can now obtain my ebook containing loads more insights, short-cuts, tips and advice aimed specifically at accountants who want to STANDOUT and become more successful. You can buy the book or download a summary for free here>>>

by