Member Since: 8th Apr 2009
15th Jul 2010
I'm staggered by the sensitivity to the word 'sell' by some members of this thread.
Also by comments such as ..."An Accountant doesn't "sell" themselves they listen to the client and then offers a service according to their experience and if the client feels that the Accountant meets their needs then a relationship is formed."
I wish all of our business came from such a laid back approach to developing income.
All of the best salesmen will tell you that listening to the client is their most valuable attribute. Listening IS a selling skill and an integral part of the sale process! so you saying that you listen is no different than what anyone else in any other industry is doing.
lets take that a step further; lets say you've listened attentively and then you offer a service, but the client sitting in front of you looks a little doubtful and asks you more questions about your experience in performing such tasks. You would no doubt list several instances and examples of similar work, how it was performed, who for and that those clients were very happy. You may even offer the contact details for one of those happy clients as a reference case. He might also ask you why your firm would be a better choice than Joe Bloggs LLP down the road, and you'd no doubt explain why you're better (without criticising Joe of course!). You will probably get round to talking pricing and you'll make judgements in your head about how much you might need to discount your rates to win this extra work, or think of other tactics to push him over the line.
Now how is all of that NOT selling?
We sell, full stop.
Get over it. (Rant over, I'm ducking out)
14th Jul 2010
... and why dont we talk about other products and services that can help ease cashflow rather than just tax tricks.... applications in the cloud can save you significant cash over traditional PC-based systems.
Take Sage for example which still struggles with the concept of online accounting, versus Brightpearl (just rebranded from Pearl). Their online offering for accounting 'software as a service' only costs £12 per user with no upfront capex whatsoever, single click import from Sage and nice intuitive performance dashboards. They go way beyond accounting and offer a full 'mini-ERP for SME's', but thats for another day or for you to do your own research on.
They've just secured VC funding from the smart folks at Eden Ventures and Notion Capital, and with Doug Richard (ex BBC Dragon) also on the board, it seems they're going to be around for some time to come.
Where else can we see innovative services break down traditional pricing structures to generate real cash savings for small (and not so small) businesses?
Anyone else throw some ideas in to the pot.....?
13th Jul 2010
Selling and accounting DO mix
Of course selling and accounting mix. Every business has to have someone selling the product or services, whether its widgets, cans of beans or accounting. Its a ridiculous statement to make. There may be a higher proportion of people in accounting firms, or finance roles, who are not as effective as your average non-accoutning sales person, but thats a different issue and very different from your sweping statement.
What you are very badly trying to describe is when someone sells something that its business can't provide or doesnt have the appropriate experience to provide.
There are plenty of people, some on this thread, that have consulting type businesses who have people that sell effectively because they DO have the experience to back it up and provide quality, informed advice for their clients. It is only a problem when the selling isnt backed up by capability, which is NOT anything specifically to do with accountants and can happen the same the world over in any industry or sector.
I dont get it. Every business sells and if it doesn't it won't stay a business for very long, and if you think that accountants shouldnt sell then it only serves to underline the difference between the 'commercial' accountant and the..... well, ...not.
13th Jul 2010
Do we have it? yes we do....
Thanks mark for a really interesting piece.
I am ACCA and I trained and qualified in industry. I do agree that its hard for those like me to make a switch later in life to set up in practice, but no harder than it is for those going in the other direction. Those early decisions tend to direct where our expertise and capabilities lie for much of our career, though i do accet that some do make the transition very successfully.
I have led what I like to think is a successful career in industry over the last 20-something years, from luxury cars to trains, from software to childcare, from consulting to outsourcing and internet to engineering. I've been through restructuring, exits, acquisitions, raising funding, firing, hiring, fast growth, slow growth, no growth, decline, etc etc and its those experiences in industry that I've been through that have led me to start my own business providing the type of business advice that you refer to.
A year and a half ago I setup to offer bookkeeping and other accounting services, as well as senior FD business advice type services. I found that 1) bookkeeping is just too cut throat and you're competing with people out there who havent got a bookkeeping qualification but are still allowed to market themselves as 'accountants' and only charge as little as £12 an hour for dangerously poor service 2) my experiences and connections meant that the type of work I was being referred was for exec level advice and 3) I didnt enjoy accounting - I wanted to help businesses grow!
To cut a long story short, I have tried practice but its not for me. I have realigned and now my business focuses solely on providing qualified, commercially minded FD's to small but ambitious companies on a part time basis.
Indeed, I'm constantly looking for new FD's to join our team, so if you think you're a little bit special, get in touch
13th Jul 2010
All good points, but worth mentioning R&D tax credits for those who aren't aware - a fantastic opportunity to get back PAYE taxes already paid. This can often be quite significant and relatively quick and easy if you have a clear case for qualification.
I know most of us are aware already but I'm continuously surprised as to how many companies aren't.
30th Jun 2010
people employ people
I've always believed that people employ people, not the technical ability or competence that can be read on a CV or recited parrot fashion at an interview.
Being relaxed, being yourself, being confident but not cocky, making a joke, smiling, talking about them not just you... all this stuff gives you an edge over so many people that dont.
I run my own business www.mybusinessfd.com and whilst I'm not 'interviewing', when I'm out talking to a prospective client I might as well be in an interview. Its the same process; you want that person to warm to you, to feel that they can develop a relationship of trust and work closely with you, albeit underpinned by their belief that your credible and have the necessary experience and skillset that you say.
The latter can be evidenced by testimonials, case studies and references. use your previous clients in your marketing, get a video testimonial on your website, etc so that people realise who you are before they meet you.
I'm fortunate having worked with Doug Richard (ex-Dragon from Dragons Den first 2 series) who happily provided me with a video testimonial that I put on my homepage. I still work with Doug on several projects. Thats really powerful, whether its Doug or not, because a prospective client can immediately see someone else actually saying good things about you.
Hope that helps
30th Jun 2010
Yeah sure, some accountants are boring, but I've met a load of boring architects, artists, builders, lawyers, etc etc etc. Its as much about your angle on life as the job you do.
Then again, I cant say that I would find audit particularly stimulating, but horses for courses... I qualified in industry and stayed there, moving from business to business, sector to sector and have loved every minute.
I now run my own business, www.mybusinessfd.com where we have a growing team of very experienced, entrepreneurial, commercially minded FD's who support a portfolio of small but ambitious companies on a part time basis. The fromula works well for the business who cant afford, or doesn't need a full time FD and it gives fantastic variety to the FD, a better quality of life, ability to manage their work/life balance and they no longer have all their eggs in one basket (a big advantage in this economy!). If one of their businesses fail than they have another half a dozen others that are still fine and we'll just find them another to fill the slot.
Infact we're still on the lookout for more of us to join up, so if you're not one of the so called 'boring' ones, get in touch with us.
23rd Jun 2010
23rd Jun 2010
I agree, I dont see why this is a black and white geographic benefit that you only are entitled to if youre outside the South East.
Small businesses across the whole of the UK need support at times like this as its them that are going to see us out of the recession over the next year or two and become stronger. How many small businesses fall into the trap of being based in London or the South East and what is that as a proportion fo the total SME's in the UK? quite significant I'd think.
However, its good news for small businesses so we should applaud it. many of my clients www.mybusinessfd.com will certainly welcome it.
3rd Dec 2009
Thanks, but it would be great if you/someone had drawn some conclusions from the hundreds of tweets. What was the general theme or thoughts from you (or anyone) after digesting them?
Sorry, but I'm sure there's some good stuff there but I just dont have time to go through it all
As for the report talking about the conclusions of 4 representatives, I dont consider 4 to exactly be stastically representative of the hundreds/thousands of accountants out there. Mind you, it isnt going to be a conclusion that particularly surprises most of us anyway