When you are approached by a prospective new client it is tempting to simply give them what they say they want. Most often this will be a fee quote to help them with their annual compliance obligations.
As this area of work becomes more commoditised so you need to distinguish yourself from other accountants. One way to do this is to ask better questions of the prospect. One key area for questions is around what the client really wants.
This is best explained by reference to an apocryphal story about Black & Decker in the days when they only sold one basic product. A group of newly recruited executives were asked what it was that their customers wanted from them.
The standard answer was ‘drills’.
“No” they were told. “Our customers want HOLES.”
How do you feel about this concept and the idea of focusing on the equivalent of a hole in the wall that your prospective clients want?
In recent years it has become very clear to me how few professionals seem to be aware of this concept. The vast majority talk about what they do and pitch for new work without an awareness that what clients generally want are results and solutions to problems.
Clients are typically completely indifferent as to how we help get those results and solutions – assuming it doesn’t involve breaking the law etc. So clients will rarely care much about our internal processes and systems.
I’ve also noticed that there seems to be far more emphasis on the client’s ‘pain’ in sales training these days than I ever saw in my past life. And it’s often the toughest part of networking too.
What do you try to find out when you meet with a prospective client or when you’re networking and hoping that you will gain new advocates for your work?
Do you take a moment to find out what result they are seeking or what problem they have? And do you focus your comments more on whether their desired result can be achieved or their problem solved rather than on how you and your firm operate?