My business had been growing. I hired an operations manager. Changed my corporate structure. It was time to get more serious about the financial aspects of my business and find an accountant who would help me with it all.
So I went looking. I spoke to four accountants, and selected the fourth one immediately.
Why? How did she differentiate herself? It was simple, really.
Clients crave to be understood more than anything else
The first three conversations followed the typical path. The accountants asked some very basic questions about my business. Then they told me what I need and how much it will cost. All this on our very first phone call.
The fourth accountant took a different approach. She also asked me some questions over the phone. She was screening me. She wanted to be sure I was serious before spending more of her time with me.
But as soon as she determined I was worth investing in, she suggested we meet. Two days later we met in her office.
For an hour she asked me all sorts of questions. Not like the first three had done. They were interested in the tasks they’d have to do. How much time it would probably take. And what they would bill me for it.
This fourth accountant was different. She wanted to understand who I am, where I am, where I’m going. She understands that the best clients are looking for more than someone who’ll keep your books, do your taxes and take your phone calls. The best clients want someone who understands them and will be a thinking partner to help them get where they want to be.
And so she asked questions, answered some of mine and raised a few ideas I hadn’t thought of. And gave me the confidence that we’d take care of those issues once we started working.
After I felt heard, understood and cared for, she told me her fees. I said yes on the spot and we began working together.
Accountants are here, there and everywhere. And accountants struggle to differentiate themselves. How do you differentiate yourself when your clients often don’t have the knowledge to appreciate your deeper level of financial accumen? Your tax expertise? Your genuine desire to help?
There’s one easy thing you can start to do right now to differentiate yourself with anyone you speak to: First understand them. Only after they feel understood, should you talk about your services.
To stand out, be the one accountant they feel understands them. The one accountant who understands that your grab bag of achievements, hot-shot clients or years of experience are not a reason I should become your client.
I’ll move to your firm when I feel you understand where I am, where I’m going. And then I’ll appreciate that you also have the expertise to help me get there.
So simple when you think about it. And so rare.