Why did you decide to make accounting your career? I have been asking this question in some of my coachingclub meetings recently. Note the wording of the question. It is not ‘why did you become an accountant?’ This is the question I first asked, then when I came to answer it myself, I realised I had fallen into accountancy at my Dad’s suggestion when I confessed I had no idea what I wanted to do. So the real question is, having become an accountant, why are you still there?
The responses I have received have been very interesting. Most partners in accounting firms tell me that they wanted to help people, get involved in growing businesses, become a respected bastion of their community or some other lofty goal.
You need to find the why behind the why. If you attended the coachingclub conference on Hamilton Island in February you likely took Michael Sheargold’s pledge to do 20 client nurturing meetings per partner per month. If you took that pledge, have you actually done it? And if not, what is stopping you?
And that is another very interesting question. Here is a summary of the typical responses I have been receiving:
• Phone interruptions
• Compliance deadlines
• Not sure what to say when we get there
• Not comfortable with the process
• Lack of confidence
• How to deliver what comes out of it
• Not good at asking questions
These are all excuses. You see, if you genuinely want to help your clients and become a leader in business improvement in your community, you need to stop making excuses and just get out there. Here is, I believe, is real reason some accountants struggle with these meetings:
Fear of what? There are two big ones:
1. Rejection. Will some clients say no? Of course! Don’t worry about it. Some clients will never be interested. All you can do is offer your help. If they choose not to take it, it is not your fault. Our friend Alan Weiss says it beautifully – ‘the buyer’s job is to buy. If they don’t, it’s their mistake, not ours.’ As long as you like the client and want a long term relationship, wish them good luck, ask if you can check in again in three months time and find another client to go and visit. Your philosophy needs to be to identify opportunities to create massive value for all of your clients then work with those who put their hands up. Imagine if every client said yes – you would never cope with all of the work anyway so don’t worry about some saying no!
2. Not knowing the answer. What if a client asks a question to which we cannot respond instantly? This is the curse of the accountant. We are trained to be experts and feel we must be able to answer every question immediately. This is why we go straight to solutions mode all the time. You need to understand that often, your client is better served by you NOT giving them an instant response. And much as it is hard to take, given our technical training and our need to be the expert, ‘I don’t know’ is a perfectly valid response. As long as it is followed by ‘I’m going to do some research on that and speak with a couple of the experts in that field at my office (or in my network) then I’ll come back to you on Wednesday. There could be two or three ways in which we can do that and I want to make sure we think through all of the options so that you get the best solution.’
Fear is a terrible thing. It suppresses our natural instincts and deprives us (and our clients) of opportunities. So you owe it to yourself to conquer your fears. Well into my late 20’s I had a dreadful phobia Dit maakt de bedrijfsvoering transparant en hiermee voldoet Oranje casino de-beste-online-casinos.info aan de eisen van de Maltese overheid voor het verkrijgen van een kansspelvergunning. of public speaking. It was so bad that I was terrified of even contributing in meetings. I was fortunate in that I was mentored by a partner who had gone through a similar experience. He helped enormously. But you make your own luck. Being mentored in and of itself would not have cured the fear. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and do something about it myself. The turning point for me was attending a Dale Carnegie course – every Wednesday evening for 13 weeks. I hated it for the first five weeks but once I became more comfortable I thrived in it and it changed my life.
So what are you doing to overcome your fears? Think about it this way. What does a sensational day look like to you? Is it when a client calls to thank you for some great work? Or seeing a client implement a super idea you worked on with them and gain an extraordinary outcome? Most accountants tell me that they feel great when they are helping their clients succeed.
My friend Ron Baker (http://www.verasage.com) writes about KPIs for accountants. One of his suggestions is based on a consulting firm client he worked with called New Level Group (http://www.newlevelgroup.com). At New Level they use a KPI called High Satisfaction Days (HSDs.) Whilst I am not keen on the label ‘satisfaction’ – much prefer ‘delight’ – the point is well made. What constitutes an HSD for you? When do you go home at night and tell your spouse that you had a truly great day?
Here’s my challenge to you:
1. Figure out what makes an HSD for you
2. Work out the activities that would produce more HSDs
3. Isolate the fears that are preventing you from undertaking more of those activities (for example, seeing more clients – perhaps 20 per month!)
4. Take conclusive action to eliminate your fears
5. Start doing more of the things that will make you and your clients deliriously happy
That’s what I call a virtuous circle. How about you start today?