Last week, I ran a workshop with a room full of accountants looking at how client-facing staff can have ‘benefit led’ conversations with clients about cloud technology. I opened the session with the request – ‘hands up if you are a sales person’. Based on the reaction of the room, I suddenly had a horrible feeling that I had asked an entirely different and highly insulting question. Accounting professionals, it seems, are genuinely horrified at the thought of being classed as someone that sells… ‘I don’t con people’, was my favourite response.
In Daniel Pink’s excellent book, To Sell is Human, he makes a really compelling point that if you look over all of your correspondence to clients, colleagues, friends and family over the last few days, most of that ‘effort’ will involve some level of persuading, negotiating, influencing, motivating or inspiring …. Well, to me… that makes you a sales person. There’s just no need to put it on your business card!
Let me build the case even further…
A raft of recent research states that buyers are now much further along their buying journey before they contact the seller. Whereas before, someone would have a requirement and the first thing they do is contact a person that can help, now they ask Google, Social Media or review websites (ask anyone in the Tourism industry if TripAdvisor has affected their business) before getting in touch.
Recent research by Forrester shows that the overwhelming reason that people would select one supplier over another is down to the insight that they share and how they made their business better… not price, not location, not how long they have been in business.
Accountants have something truly golden. Something that takes years to build and moments to destroy. That is trust. We know via the research from ICAEW Tomorrow’s Practice, accountants are the most trusted professional that a small business relies on… no question.
So, what does this all mean? Well, the world is changing very rapidly. People no longer expect generic advice (that’s Google’s job) they expect insight, tailored to the them with clear recommendations. In fact, that is what they value the most and will pay for. Who’s in the best position to offer this highly prized relationship? You guessed it – you!
After making my case and then building on it, most people recognized that they are in fact salespeople and if they are serious about their professional development, the skills outlined above are essential.
If you would like to talk more about how we can help you and your staff have more meaningful conversations with clients then please join us at our Get Connected event series . We would love to see you there.