Why Curiosity Is Key for Accountants in Building Strong Client Relationships

Why Curiosity Is Key for Accountants in Building Strong Client Relationships

We are delighted to welcome Ryan McGurk to as our new VP of Accountant Sales. I recently was able to catch up with Ryan to get his insights about selling to firm clients.   


What advice do you have for accountants who are selling to their current clients?

Ask a lot of questions and do a lot of listening upfront. It is key to understand both their day-to-day activities as well as their long-horizon plans. Do they want to accelerate growth and if so how? Sell the business at some point? On a daily basis, what do they love most about the running of their business? What do they like least? What takes them the most time?

Approach each conversation with your client with a curious mindset, versus trying to sell something, and over time, opportunities will arise as you uncover more and more. The goal is to be the one partner who cares the most about their business—more so than anyone else they work with. Make each meeting and each conversation the best one they have that day/week/month. In doing so, you'll be their first phone call when they have a big decision to make. This will lead to more business for you and your firm.

And, when you get there (but not before!), don't be afraid to ask for referrals.  


What about new business—any guidance there?  

Just like with existing clients, be inquisitive. Questions can be asked anywhere—conferences, trade shows and networking events. Ask about their business, their goals, and if they have an accountant. Don’t be afraid to provide them with a card and even point them to content from your website that may relate to your conversation. And, if they provide you with a card, be sure and reach out and set up call or appointment once you’re back in the office.  


How can an accountant recognize the value that a client will place on the service so they can put the right price on the service?

One approach might be to determine the amount of time your service will save for the client and what they could be doing with that additional time. Ultimately, you want to position your service as allowing the client to focus more on revenue producing opportunities, and to the extent you can quantify this. Your service is then the one that helps them go from 5 percent to 15 percent growth, and you can ask for a material percentage of this growth as it is all upside to the client.


How can a firm partner help their staff feel more comfortable with the selling? Any specific do's or don'ts?

Don't think of it as selling. Set expectations with your staff that their job is to approach each client with a curiosity and a goal to know more about their business than anyone else they work with. Through this curiosity and questioning along with a striving to truly understand the inner workings of their business, your services will begin to sell themselves.


Any resources you would recommend to help someone who is new to selling?

Like I mentioned above, don’t think of it as selling—think of it as learning. Explore how best to flex your curiosity muscle and hone questioning techniques. Think of “selling” more like a conversation and ask a prospect about their needs and wants for their business, you’ll be a good position to recommend your firm and solutions you provide that deliver a benefit to their business.

February 25, 2019
Jane Willis
VP of Marketing, Accountant Channel,
Jane is a strategic marketing executive with a proven track record of driving business growth and solving difficult business and marketing challenges. She’s launched over 100 products worth billions in revenue, developed a lean methodology for driving marketing strategy and converted it into a training curriculum, and is a mentor and advisor to small businesses and marketing leaders. Jane also holds a BA in Political Science from the University of California Berkeley.