Back in 2007 I wrote a chapter for a book (BusinessWise) to help Entrepreneurs with ‘Finding, Choosing and Using an accountant’. I tried to ensure that this was more practical and real-world advice than the generic and incomplete advice which appears on a variety of business and accountancy websites. I explained some of the ways that entrepreneurs could distinguish between different accountants and the sort of things that are worth finding about before appointing anyone.
In this short blog post I am extrapolating a couple of key points from that chapter and from my work with professionals, not just accountants.
The question is what can you do to best highlight the real benefits to a prospective client of engaging with you rather than with anyone else?
Firstly – many of, what we might think should be, the key distinguishing factors are taken as read by prospective clients. For example, whilst many accountants talk about their qualifications and membership of professional bodies, the public are less interested. Specifically they are unaware that anyone can call themselves an accountant. They assume anyone calling themselves an accountant is qualified just as they assume that all ‘lawyers’ (sic) are qualified and regulated by the Law Society.
It matters not if you think that prospective clients SHOULD take more notice of such differentiators. In practice they are often far more interested in personal recommendations and testimonials from happy clients. If you’re going to rely on your qualifications etc you’d best work on ways to explain that they are not all the same and how you being fully qualified benefits the client. Bear in mind that unqualified advisers win plenty of work by highlighting the benefits that their status provides.
Many professionals will claim that their personality is a key differentiator. But this misses the point. You, as a person, and how likeable you are, will often only become a factor after the prospect has agreed to speak with you or to meet you. Until then your personality doesn’t help.
So here’s my top tip: Highlight what makes you different in a positive vein rather than simply repeating all the standard stuff that most prospects will probably take for granted. Remember they’re not experts. When comparing one professional’s website with another they will read into each profile certain material that they think is probably true of all such professionals – even if it isn’t. The prospect doesn’t know. So they assume – unless told to the contrary. It’s well worthwhile clearly stating what makes you different and spelling out how clients benefit from this. Use the ‘so what?’ test. For each statement you make that is intended to evidence your credibility, imagine a prospect responding: “So what?” Make sure you can answer this question effectively.
Feel free to add comments to this blog and to share what makes your practice really different.
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