What Small business owners want from their accountant has evolved over time. Modern business owners want someone who does more than just their tax returns and bookkeeping. They want a long-term strategic partner with someone who can act as their trusted adviser – and that’s easier to achieve when you present a personal, open and human face to the world.
People buy from people, after all. Being seen as the kind of person that clients want to work with is central to engaging with these clients and prospects. But what’s the key to making this work?
1. Relationships require work
Building a relationship of any kind takes time. Moving from being a casual business acquaintance to a trusted adviser requires effort and hard work. So it is important to present the most open and honest view of you and your team to the wider world. The following are tips to help you with this
- Connect with clients regularly – relationships evolve through frequent contact and that won’t happen if you only see clients twice a year. Make a point of increasing those touch points and get proactive about being a more regular presence.
- Find out more about their business – listening to your client and understanding their pain points helps you to learn more about their business. By increasing your holistic knowledge of the client and their business goals, you increase the opportunities to offer practical help and advice.
- Become part of the client’s team – the more embedded you are as an adviser, the more invaluable you’ll be to your client. Becoming a part-time FD or strategic adviser is one way to add real value, while also getting to know more about your clients.
2. Drop the mask and show the real you
Instead of being a distant technical presence, open up and drop the formality. Build a firm culture where you can share more about yourself, interact with clients on a more personal level and see the impact it has on enhancing your relationships.
Rather than providing a one-dimensional, functional service to clients, turn yourself into a rounded individual who can deliver that positive impact and experience.
3. Speed up relationship-building via social media
Approximately 30% of time spent on the internet is spent within Social media. With that in mind, social provides a brilliant way to raise your personal (and brand) profile in the digital space. It’s easy to follow and interact with the right people, and it’s an area where you can quickly build 1-2-1 engagement. To make the most of your online presence:
- Embrace social media and get posting – set yourself up with personal social accounts and don’t rely on just having a firmwide presence. Make sure you post your own updates and content on a frequent basis, but also take the time to reply to followers and to share the posts that you think will be useful to your network.
- Interact don’t sell! – your social media accounts are not a sales channel – they’re a place to chat and interact, not a platform for shouting loudly about your latest discount.
- Build a network of social contacts – by being smart with your social use, you can quickly build up a ‘digital network’ of targets, peers and ex colleagues – and that network is likely to be invaluable when looking for new business and project work.
4. Measure success and refine your targets
Getting the best return on your marketing investment is important. But knowing if your marketing and PR was working – i.e. that your audience was actually getting value from it – used to be largely guess work in the pre-digital days.
Marketing apps now give you clear analytics and stats to measure your content and social marketing performance – and that makes it easier than ever to see where you’re having an impact and getting the right engagement levels as an adviser.
Using software tools, you can send out blogs, social campaigns, emails or newsletters in one hit – with personalisation that reinforces the perception of your individual and firm brands.
Show the human face of your firm
Building deeper relationships with clients is vital for your firm. The days of being a pure ‘number cruncher’ as an accountant or bookkeeper are over, with relationships, customer experience and advisory now king – and that means reassessing how you connect with your customers in the online world and in person.
By becoming a more rounded and human presence in your clients’ lives, and using marketing tech to speed up engagement times, you move away from the traditional stuffy perception of accountants and morph into a trusted and valued adviser.
We’re not going to suggest this is a straightforward and simple ‘caterpillar transforms into butterfly’ process – but by getting proactive about building better relationships you will see the results in the long-term.
By revealing the real you, you encourage a more genuine and long-lasting kind of engagement. And that’s great news for the long-term retention of clients, and the future of your firm.
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This article is an extract from the BOMA website and is written in general terms and therefore cannot be relied on to cover specific situations; application of the principles set out will depend upon the particular circumstances involved and we recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from acting on any of its contents.