No one cares HOW you do what you do

Jan 11, 2013 | Business messaging and branding

Can you imagine what would happen if you explained to a prospective client or advocate HOW you do what you do?

  • We complete client’s tax returns using the latest software programme from ABC company;
  • We use the tax research books published by [name of publishing house];
  • Our staff have all been trained by [name of training company];

You wouldn’t do it would you? It’s not relevant information is it? Indeed it sounds somewhat self-centred and boring.

The analogy I offer here dates back to the first time I put my back out. What I wanted was a recommendation to someone who could fix my acute back pain. Frankly I didn’t care whether the practitioners, to whom I was recommended, were physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths or anything else.  HOW they were going to sort my back was of far less interest to me than the RESULTS or OUTCOME I wanted them to achieve for me.

Too many accountants and tax advisers focus on HOW they or their firm operate and how they provide their services too early in the conversation.

You will reduce the prospect of appearing boring and you will find it much easier to create rapport if your initial focus is on your clients, their problem and needs and what you can do for them.

There is an apocryphal story about a group of newly recruited executives at Black & Decker in the days when they only sold one basic product. They were asked what it was that their customers wanted from them.

The standard answer was ‘drills’.

“No” they were told. “Our customers want HOLES.”

In a similar vein the great Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt used to tell his students, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

How do you feel about this concept and the idea of focusing on the hole in the wall that your prospective clients want?  Typically they have problems they want solved or sorted. They will rarely care much about your firm’s internal processes and systems.

The bottom line is that good answers to the question ‘What do you do?’ do not include any reference to HOW you do it.

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