CPA - Accounting
Firm Marketing Newsletter:
Practitioner's networking strategies
issue gives tips on networking and discusses especially how to
make people NOTICE when someone needs your help.
is a subject much wagged to death by all manner of good and bad
of "accountancy networking" is so wide and undefined
that basically ANYTHING can be considered networking.
Here, I'm not
going to waste neither your nor my time yapping about "great
tips" like business cards or how to "say hello"
or any other such point.
go for the jugular and look at what is stopping networking and
what its actual objective is... or SHOULD be, if you want new
networking barrier # 1
The basic problem
with the nonprofessionals of accounting also known as
"clients" and "potential clients"
is that they don't KNOW when an Accountant or CPA is needed.
Oh, sure -
they know the very basic things, such as monthly writeups, tax
filing and so on... but when it comes to more refined problems
/ solutions, you might want to ensure they REALIZE their associate
or friend could use your help.
Let me explain.
if you talk about "budgeting" or "financial planning,"
most small & medium enterprise business owners draw a blank...
they cannot conjure up any mental image of what it is, what it
is FOR, or how it is done.
merely recognize the words as familiar (they've heard those
words so many times without ever understanding - or finding out
- what the concept MEANS) and they nod.
So you think
that they UNDERSTAND what you just said because they acknowledge
that you spoke.
there's no concept of it in their mind WHAT it is exactly, what's
it for, etc. these words CAN NEVER LEAD TO A DECISION
OR POSITIVE ACTION.
unless you have a way of ensuring that the business owner (or
your networking contact) definitely UNDERSTANDS what you're offering,
don't be surprised if that contact never leads to any action
about a very specific phenomenon here - familiarity of a concept
as opposed to full understanding of its purpose and what it means
in terms of DOING it.
If you use
terminology OR present concepts which are not FULLY understood
by the business owner, it can NEVER lead to ACTION.
difference between RECOGNIZING a word and actually
understanding its meaning well enough to conceptualize it in
terms of how and why to do it.
you're told "to thingamajig the thingamabob" there
won't be any chance of that happening simply because you have
no idea what action is meant by this unknown verb "thingamajig"
NOR what the object of the action, the "thingamabob,"
You would be
equally challenged to evaluate the importance or usefulness or
even purpose of use of it.
So you could
not decide to buy it, use it, get it... you would not even know
what it is.
Now, this silly
example might seem too far-fetched to be applied to marketing
and selling of accounting services... but that's basically how
this phenomenon works.
In this example,
the words are so CLEARLY unintelligible that it makes it extremely
easy to SPOT the misunderstood words.
But in life,
there are a lot of words we've HEARD so often that their FAMILIARITY
alone makes us think we actually know the full meaning of the
speaking of professional terminology OUTSIDE our own expertise,
words really need to be defined (or explained by an expert) before
we can trust that the average SME business owner actually fully
understands the concept.
And the same
applies when presenting accounting services whose purpose of
use is uncertain to the other guy.
This is a major
problem in marketing and selling of accounting services.
clients listen... but if you use concepts and words you're not
absolutely CERTAIN they understand, they just pass the
presentation doesn't bring up a concept of something they could
understand as necessary.
get replies such as "I have to crunch some figures and calculate
what I can afford..." and "I must check out the figures..."
and things like that.
The one common
denominator in these responses is "I must be allowed to
go away without giving you my decision."
recognized fact of the matter is that business owners don't utilize
the knowhow of their CPA or Accountant.
Now, the principal
reason for this is NOT what you might think.
It isn't that
they are tight about money. It's simply that they don't really
KNOW which problems would best be helped by you.
For most business
owners, "accounting" is something done solely because
keeping books is mandatory by law. That about says it all, don't
business owners simply haven't a clue of what is valuable in
There are various
reasons for this but one of the main causes is simply that we
don't always manage to communicate our services in the way THEY
understand - using THEIR vocabulary and their wordings for the
CPA firm networking:
Concentrate on the problem, not the solution
or not, people like to help each other. Most of us also love
to show how "well connected" we are.
to offer a solution to someone's problem is something most people
like very much - and something they'll do instinctively in a
conversation... but only if they RECOGNIZE a problem and it "connects"
to a solution that they know of.
you meet people whom you then hope will refer clients to you.
It is customary to explain one's services in way of SOLUTIONS
and ACTIONS - you know, "I'm a CPA and I do audits, reviews
and all that...," and that type of thing.
It works just
fine IF the person you're talking to is your peer and has an
in-depth understanding of accounting and finance (and if HE has
the ability to "translate" these concepts into layman
terms when speaking to potential referrals).
But if he doesn't,
then he will acknowledge your communication... but it won't "register"
- it won't become a distinct concept stored in his memory - and
therefore, he will neither recognize nor ACT when he encounters
someone who would need your help.
In other words,
if the person cannot recognize the problem and connect YOU as
the solution to it, he won't ACT - recommend you to the person
it is well worth your while to plan ahead what you say to people
when you network so that you optimize your chances of making
it CONNECT at the right time.
If it does,
you'll activate these people as your sales promoters at no cost
- a definite prerequisite for obtaining new potential clients
Installing "automatic sensors" and "unique reminders"
In your networking,
you should attempt to install a definite sensor" in the
memory of everyone you talk to.
is basically something that will make the person NOTICE when
he come across someone that has a problem you can help with.
These are not
always easy to develop because you have to work backwards from
your service to the problem it fixes AND the cause of the problem.
financial monitoring and consulting would keep the business updated
on issues such as collecting fees owed. Thus, you might conclude
that whoever has an acute crisis in this area might have overlooked
it for so long that they're a prime candidate for this service.
Thus, you might
develop an automatic sensor whose wording is something along
anyone says they're having major problems in collecting monies
owed by clients, tell them to contact me for a free consultation...
we have a special service that can make debt collection problems
a thing of the past..."
This is just
an example and I would refer you to Part 10 of Modern
Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course which is all about networking with
some very clever and functional techniques... but you get the
going into all the trouble of explaining the nature, structure,
ingeniousness and elements of your service, you simply give the
guy something he can understand and remember... something that
LEADS to a contact if he EVER hears a friend complaining about
collecting fees owed.
effective... and it works.
reminder" is an easy and somewhat personal "byline"
you create about yourself or your services - something that is
easy to remember for people who don't know you well.
sales person has one (things like "the guy with the green
hat" and then the salesman wears a green hat at all times.)
you'd want to go with a bit more conventional image, of course.
But coming up with a byline that ALSO makes you easier to approach,
such as "The Friendly Accountants" or "Make-Sense
CPA" will actually help people to remember you.
have this in your business card and you'd also tell people "Oh,
by the way, we're called 'the Friendly Accountants')
our fictional example of automatic sensor, and if you found out
that collection was a huge problem to which your service offers
a workable solution, you could create a reminder that is along
expert CPA" or something that identifies you with
collecting or handling the problem would definitely command
attention and create interest among this niche target group.
Securing the systems and tools of successful networking
What are the
secrets of successful networking? How do you harness the naturally
positive elements of human communication to produce a continuous
flow of prospective clients and referrals for your services?
If you're interested,
these and many unique networking systems are presented in Part
10 of Modern
Accountancy Marketing & Sales Course, a 12-part practical toolkit giving
tested and proven marketing and sales techiniques tailored for
CPA firms and accounting practices.
Keep that "net working" and do well!
HDK Consultants U.S.A. Inc.
PMB 211, 411 Cleveland Street
Clearwater, FL 33755
Phone (727) 474 1206
Calls from outside USA: +1 727 474 1206