Being an accountant does not only require the right amount of technical expertise, it also important to have certain qualities that would give you an edge in having better client relationships. These qualities are simple enough to understand yet can be vital in expanding your clientele and further improving yourself as an accountant. In this episode, Michelle Weinstein shares with us the 10 qualities that a good accountant should have.
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10 Qualities You Must Have As An Accountant
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Before we dive into the top ten qualities so you can attract your ideal clients, I would like to give a shout out to our reviewer of the week. Our reviewer of the week goes to Adam and he says, “Michelle creates such amazing content and boils things down to their essence. Her experience and contacts throughout the professional world are second to none. This is a show that not only should every accountant be tuning in to, but anyone in a professional service industry. The information that she passes along is invaluable. I’m looking forward to reading her future episodes. All hail the pitch queen.”
Thank you, Adam. What I’m sharing with you is for an entrepreneur in a service-based industry, but I’ve personally had the privilege of working with many accountants like you. I know exactly what some of the challenges are. A lot of times, you are not trained in these areas and I’m here to support you in that so you can grow the firm of abundance. With that said, I do want to hear from more of you. I want to get to know more of you who tune in each and every single week. I would like to take a moment to extend an invitation for you to subscribe and leave a written review for the show, so I can keep on delivering the content that you want and love. I will take that review and share it on a future episode.
I am talking about the ten qualities that you must have as an accountant or CPA to attract your ideal clients. It’s super important to have these qualities as it attracts the clients that you like, that you love, that you want to hear from, and that you want to help and serve. That is what we are talking about. I’m excited to be here and be able to share this with you. Have you ever wished that you could sell yourself and your services sincerely when you’re talking to potential clients without sounding sleazy and salesy? A lot of the accountants I’ve worked with have come and asked me this exact same thing, “Michelle, how do I do that?” It’s about communicating what you do with confidence and the more confident you are with your clients, the better. It’s important. That’s why I’m called the pitch queen after all.You need to have perfect impeccable listening skills. Make sure that if you're in a meeting, you're only talking 20% of the time. Click To Tweet
A lot of accountants and CPAs that I work with in the past and people I talk to don’t realize that a lot of times, your job entails sales conversations. When you’re talking to a client, when you’re answering your phone, if someone leaves you a Yelp review, those are all different forms of sales conversations. I understand that sales isn’t something that comes naturally to a lot of people, but it is something that can be learned and that I do know. If you are someone who is trying to sell yourself for a little bit better value to your clients so your time is more valuable with being your authentic self and not someone who you’re not, then this is the perfect episode for you. Some of these ten qualities you might have, but we might need to wake them up a little bit. I will be sharing the ten qualities that accountants should embrace and how you can showcase them to be able to attract the people that you want to work with in the same way on how I keep attracting accountants that I love to work with.
Excellent Organizational Skills
Let’s dive into the first quality. The first quality for someone in your profession, because of the professional industry that you’re in, is an excellent organizational skill. This might seem simple. A lot of accountants are organized, but when it comes to your organizational skills as it relates to dealing with the client, these are your emails, calendars and text message campaigns, if you have any of those going, it is the quality that will have you stand out from every other accountant. Because when you’re doing the compliance work or any of that detailed work, you’re organized. What about on the client-facing side, not to mention real habits, having the systems for follow-up and if you’re going to send out birthday cards? What is the system that you have for the organizational skills part of what the client experiences? Do they experience you in chaos? Do they experience you running late? Do they experience you not going and honoring their time when you’re having a client meeting and you go in overtime all the time? How organized are you? That’s going to be a quality number one.
Excellent Time Management Skills
The second one is time management skills. If you’re organized or if you need to be a little bit more organized, having the organized quality will also make your life more efficient, but it will bring you more clients. I have a class going on and two of the CPAs in there do a lot of time blocking. I highly recommend that. I do the same. I’ll set out 30 minutes on a Friday for follow-up or I’ll set out one hour on a Wednesday for follow-ups. Time blocking is a great way to stay organized, which will then set you up for success when you’re talking to your clients because then you can focus on setting appointment reminders and managing your time in order to show them that you are organized.
CPAs and accountants have an important role as it relates to decision-making processes of your client. This is a big one and this I see way too often, so if you can stop doing this, you’ll be good to go. If you say, “I’m going to get you documents to review by Friday this week,” and you end up sending it Monday next week, do you think that shows good time management skills? You never want to over-promise and under-deliver. We always want to under-promise and over-deliver. It’s one of the biggest things in having good management skills, especially for time because if you keep estimating your time wrong, what are clients going to think of you? Are you going to attract the right clients that you truly want? Be clear and upfront when you’re working with a new client. What can they expect? When will you be working on things? Stick to it and always deliver when you say.
It goes back to quality number one, being organized and showing up on time to meetings. On time means about fifteen minutes early. Also, hire some help if you need it because quality numbers 1 and 2 will get you either higher quality clients or lower-value clients. Which do you prefer? Delegate tasks to maybe an assistant or another team member so you can focus on delivering the best service to your clients and also following the time management rules that you put in place for yourself. The biggest one on this is under-promising and over-delivering because then you’re not putting too much pressure on yourself. You’re giving yourself an extra buffer. From all the accountants I’ve worked with, if you’re estimating something in three days, maybe deliver it and tell the client six days. If you get it done early, great.
Attention To Detail
Quality number three is attention to detail. How many of you pay attention to the nitty-gritty details when it comes to doing the technical work, the fun stuff? When we’re talking about the sales side and the client interaction side, this is an important area to pay attention to detail. If you don’t, the client experience is going to suffer and then you won’t be attracting the exact types of clients that you’re looking for. Don’t miss the details and pay close attention to everything. Dot your I’s, cross your T’s, and it will help you stay on top of things. I mean paying attention to detail like quality 1 and 2. Number one, excellent organization and number two, excellent time management. If you’re paying attention to those details, then you’ll be on top of things and no one will say a word to you. The clients from the sales point of view will be like, “They’re really on top of things,” not only when it comes to technical work.
You can take this a step further. Have your assistant pay attention to details, the quality that you can hire for. There’s a lot of people that are big-picture thinkers. If you’re that big-picture thinker and you don’t have good attention to detail, it might be worth the investment to bring someone on who is OCD in detail like me. I’m super OCD when it comes to detail. I understand not everyone is like that, but it is a great quality and trait to bring on your team. People that pay attention to detail are going to be high earner businesses and high net worth individuals, clients that might fit that ideal client profile that you’re looking to attract. We’re talking about attracting your ideal clients and qualities that those types of clients are looking for. They are looking for attention to detail, I promise you that. What qualities do you feel you have that are attracting your ideal clients?
Paying Attention To The Client
Quality number four, your attention must stay on the client. This is important and I see this a lot of times in client relationship type businesses, which is what you’re in. When we pay attention to the client and we’re with the client, that’s where you’re going to be able to build trust. That’s where clients are going to feel heard. That’s where clients will feel appreciated. On your ideal client-side, like me or someone else who would pay for your services, one of the number one thing that we realize is we don’t get paid attention to very much. If you want a high net worth business owner, high net worth individual or a business owner with multiple locations, make sure your attention stays on them all the time. You’re going to get more referrals this way. You’re going to get more reviews. If you have your cell phone out in a client meeting, maybe it’s a good idea to put that away.No matter how great you are at crunching numbers, you need to be able to hold a conversation with your clients. Click To Tweet
Another good thing to do when you’re paying attention to the client is to ask questions in order to show them that, “I’m listening,” because I’ll repeat back to them on what they said. I have a ton of great tips on building relationships and building rapport. We’ve done them on previous episodes here on the show, so you can search probably building relationships or building rapport. Make sure your attention stays on the client in front of you. I like to explain it like this. Let’s say you’re at a picnic table. You’re sitting on one side and then the other person sitting across from you, which might be happening in your client meetings or on video if you’re running your business more remote. One of the things you want to do is pretend you’re sitting on the same side of the table. You have to visualize that in your mind. Put your mind right next to your client and from their point of view. They’re going to feel that you’re paying attention to them. I call this sitting on their side of the table. Even if you’re sitting across from them or even if you’re on video with them, imagine in your head that you’re sitting right next to them and watch what happens. You can send me an email later to Hello@ThePitchQueen.com and tell me how did that work out for you in your next client meeting. I want to know.
Another quality that will have you attracting your ideal clients is being creative. Creativity is often under-looked in this field, but it’s important in this profession. Thinking outside the box for solutions to your clients. We as accountants are so busy. It’s like doctor’s offices, one thing after the next and sometimes we don’t have space to be creative. Maybe each week, you can spend 30 minutes thinking of some creative outside the box things that you can do for your clients. Maybe it’s on the customer service side, client service. Maybe it’s in your follow-up and a marketing thing. You’re going to go spend 30 minutes every Friday and post on LinkedIn something creative about you, about your firm or about how you can help restaurant business owners reduce their expenses or reduce their cost of goods, something unique and different. It’s being creative.
What I found is that in order to be creative, you have to create the time. If you don’t have the time, then we’re back to square one. Keep better organization and better time management. These are all important. Set aside 30 minutes to get creative and think about what can you do differently with your client follow-up, client service and your team in your office. I was in Chicago with a bunch of CPAs and one of them is Diane. She was sharing with me how she wanted to have the office dress a little differently. She had some dress code policy for the firm and we got creative. I said, “Diane, instead of giving them a book and telling them, ‘This is how you have to look and how you have to dress,’ what if you all just went shopping for the day? While you’re shopping, you can share what culture you’re trying to create within your firm.”
It was a creative and fun team building that she was able to do and implement. Granted, it took her probably half a day to take the office out shopping. This is a unique and creative thing. What can you do creatively in your firm? What can you do creatively for your staff? Maybe it’s a fun birthday party. The CPA that I work with a lot who’s been on this show, she’s creative. There are always things that you can be doing. Let’s go to the next quality. This is to attract your ideal client. In my example with Diane, if her staff elevates their presentation, that’s changing who they’re attracting as clients. It’s creating a first impression when people show up to her office.
Commitment To Your Niche Or Sector
Quality number six, have a commitment to your sector, aka have a commitment to a specific niche. Yes, this is a quality that will serve you. This is a quality that will help you inside and out every single time. I promise you, if you know exactly who you help and serve, that will increase your value and your income potential and it will attract your ideal clients. I’m going to give you a real-life example. It’s one of my students and I’m not going to say any names, so we’re going to call her Susie. Susie and I met on the phone a couple of years ago and we met in person, then we started working together. She’s in my eight-week Sales Mastery Training. Susie was frustrated taking on all clients, discounting services and not having a commitment to a specific niche or sector. She wants to fire half the clients. I said, “Are you committed to making the shift and getting specific?” She said, “Yes,” and here’s what she picked.
Things have already started to shift. She would have done something for free for a client or she said maybe between $500 and $1,000 for the engagement and she charged $29.50. She got paid upfront. That’s also part of what she’s working on. Susie works with small business owners. They must engage in services and the value of the total services to her and her firm minimum is $10,000 per client over a twelve-month period. If it’s monthly services that you offer, if it’s tax planning, if it’s tax resolution, whatever it may be, who are you going to work with? She only works with service-based businesses. No contract manufacturing, no restaurants and no construction. She got specific and her life is starting to shift. You can feel it too. Her energy’s shifting completely and I know it can for you too.
Impeccable Listening Skills
We are on quality number seven and it is having impeccable listening skills where you are listening intently to your clients and sitting next to them on the same side of the table. You are paying attention to their details and everything they say. When we listen, 80/20 rule. You can go to Amazon and buy a book called The 80/20 Principle. Your listening is so detailed that you could probably repeat everything back to them what they shared with you. Take notes. I always encourage this in class. If you’re used to meeting with clients in person and you never take notes, ask permission, “I know we’re going to be meeting for an hour. Typically, I don’t take detailed notes, but now I want to. I want to be able to remember everything that you shared with me, so I’m going to be jotting down some notes. Would that be okay?” You can ask permission if it feels a little bit uncomfortable. Have perfect impeccable listening skills. Make sure that if you’re in a one-hour meeting, you’re only talking 20% of the time. It is the quality that most accountants do not have. If you have that, not only will you attract a lot more of your ideal clients, but you’ll probably attract a greater number of clients anyway because most of the other accountants don’t do that. Unless they’re tuning in to our show and putting the stuff into action.
Great Communication Skills
Quality number eight is having great communication skills. No matter how great you are at crunching numbers, if we can’t hold a conversation with our clients, and a conversation is where the sale happens, it’s going to be difficult for us to get new clients. How do you have these types of communication skills where you’re asking great questions? You’re listening 80% of the time and you’re only talking 20% of the time. You’re able to listen for the most important golden nugget. In class, we had a septic company. We were doing some role-playing and one question that you could ask a business owner if they started a septic company is, “What inspired you to start that?” You want to listen for one golden nugget. When I was sharing the answer as to why I started, granted that I made it all up, I was saying that I was holding space in order to pass on the legacy of my father who had this business. It was getting passed down from generation to generation.The more confident you are with your client, the better. Click To Tweet
If your communication skills and your listening skills are great, you would have picked up that the most important thing that I said was that I wanted to keep a legacy going and that’s why I started this business or inspired me. When you’re listening to your clients and communicating with them, listen for the golden nugget and communicate back to them what you heard. That could go like, “Michelle, I understand what inspired you to start this business and it sounds like you started this in order to pass down the legacy of your family and keep your father’s business going.” That would be great communication skills. Communicating back what you heard.
Number nine is collaboration skills. How are you collaborating with other accountants who might have a different expertise than you? There might be someone who is an expert in international tax. I did an interview with a gentleman named Eric and he’s a tax attorney or an attorney in this industry. How are you collaborating with other people to attract your ideal clients? Do they even know who you’re looking for? I don’t know. There are a lot of accountants I work with that don’t share exactly who they’re looking for. Even in Chicago, I was there, there were about 25 CPAs. Each of the 25 CPAs in the room, we went to one by one who they are looking for, who’s their ideal client, what’s the minimum revenue and what is the industry that they prefer to work with. The group of 25 that meets in person 3 or 4 times a year didn’t even know who each of them was looking for.
It’s super important that you collaborate with one another, especially those that are reading and build your network of professionals. If you have five good referral sources, that’s all you need. You could get one new client a month, but it’s sharing who you are working with. What attorneys are you working with? Especially in tax, do you work with someone in tax resolution? I was on the phone with a past student and he said that he was selling his whole practice to somebody who he collaborated with, so he could focus on just tax consulting. These opportunities are available to you too. It’s just putting into action.
The last quality is flexibility. In the new digital age, everything is a little bit of an accelerated pace, wouldn’t you say? You need to adapt to changes. One of the biggest changes that I have seen is how can you meet with clients on video? How can you do it on Zoom? How can you do it on the phone instead of spending time driving back and forth to meet clients or having clients take up extra time in your office if you don’t have that time? What are the latest and greatest software out there? In my class, we were talking about being flexible with how clients upload files to you with all of the sensitive information.
If you want a client and if you want to operate on one platform to upload files securely, that’s fine, but be flexible with those clients and teach them exactly what you need them to do. How should they upload the files? Maybe make a video on how to do it and being up to date with all the regulatory changes in your industry and how do you apply it to your firm, but also how do you communicate that to your clients. I like to call this staying flexible. As an accountingprenuer, you have to be flexible because if you’re not flexible, when we’re a little too stiff in the world of entrepreneurship, it doesn’t get us the exact types of clients that we want.
I’ve shared this story before, but we are working with one of my clients, Luke. Luke with his niche, he was strict to the point that he didn’t even take credit cards from clients, only ACH debit. For me, I love using my credit card. I’ll even pay 3% extra at times just to use my credit card to gain all my points because that’s more beneficial than using ACH at times. How flexible do you want to get? How inflexible do you want to get? There’s definitely a give and take. Those are definitely the top ten qualities that you should embrace as an accountant, a CPA, an EA or a tax attorney to attract your ideal clients. The best thing to put into action is to take some time to think about which of these ten qualities are you doing right now.
Write those down. Which ones do you need to develop and practice a little bit more? We all need a little practice in our lives and maybe choose one of the ones you need to develop and practice and implement it while you’re reading. I want to say thank you to each of you for joining me. I would be grateful and invite you to leave a written review on iTunes because the written reviews help the show grow. What was your biggest takeaway from this episode or maybe even a past episode? Share it with me on iTunes in a written review. It’s always an honor to be here with each of you. Thank you for reading and have an amazing day.
Thank you all so much for joining me. I would love to know which of those top ten qualities you have, but what is the 1 or 2 that you need to work on? Share it with me by leaving a written review on iTunes. I invite you to subscribe so I can make sure to take your written review and highlight it right here on a future episode. Thank you again for your support. I love hearing from you. I love reading the reviews and I will see you in the next episode.
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