The role of partners is often difficult, and accepting that careers are changing is not easy. To prosper today, partners must be tough, competent professionals who can provide services to present clients, and develop new business. Partners should be responsible for future issues confronting clients, promoting value-added services, and maintaining client relationships.
Accountants can no longer be just technicians. They must also possess business acumen. Seeing accounting as a business does not necessarily detract from its status as a profession. The bottom line is important, and partners must look upon their firms accordingly.
Accountants recognised long ago that positive client relationships are vital. You obtain positive client associations by providing high quality technical service and good business and tax advice. However, beyond performing the engagement, most accountants have limited client contact. Perhaps they offer only an annual seminar and social hour.
Apart from this, most accountants do not attempt to meet or interact with their clients at other times in the year. The lack of focus on repetitive client contact often arises from an over-intense emphasis on chargeable hours. This results in partners only seeing clients when they are performing a chargeable engagement. That is not often enough for the larger, more significant clients.
In our changing environment, this lack of formal planning and informal interaction with clients is unsatisfactory. Partner time is an investment; when you work on your client’s account you are investing your time.
From this activity your clients require a return – and so does the firm. Your role as a partner in the marketplace has changed. Fortunately, the basic principles you apply to any accounting, tax, or consulting engagement are the same ones you use in marketing.
To perform an engagement you:
- Do research to be able to complete the work successfully
- Plan the work, deciding which is the best approach to take
- Do the actual work
- Often have to persuade someone that what you have done is correct
- Present the work to the client
- At times justify the fees for the services for which you have charged
To market you also:
- Do research. What clients do you want and/or which additional services do specific clients need, and why?
- Plan. What strategies will you use to achieve the objective?
- Do actual work. Lunches, breakfasts, social meetings, drop-ins, thank-you’s, and so forth.
- Present the work to the client. Listen to and talk with the client so you can pinpoint his or her needs – and then sell the service to the client.
- Persuade. Confidence = Persuasion. The client will believe what you say with confidence.
- Justify. Know your firm’s and your own strengths, and use them to overcome objections.