Accountants and bookkeepers can deliver immense value to their clients. But first they must gain their clients' confidence. That means doing a good job of demonstrating your expertise. To get a handle on how great practitioners do that I reached out to David Miller of Armanino LLP and Matt Roberge of SLC Bookkeeping. Here are three take-aways from what they told me.
Act as a true advisor
Many SMBs see their accountant as their most trusted advisor. Good advisors begin to communicate their expertise by always getting the basics right. Both David and Matt seek to deliver financial information error-free and on time. This helps position them as advisors because it increases client trust.
They put a big priority on getting security and confidentiality right. And they try to avoid the all-too-common mistake of over-promising and under-delivering. As Matt says, “Nothing leaves me with a worse taste in my mouth than when someone under-delivers. I don’t work with those people, nor do I refer them to anyone.”
Communicating your expertise also means going beyond client expectations. That means delivering a great customer experience. Seek to provide awesome solutions to your clients’ business issues. For David, a great way to support that is to deliver innovation. His firm does things like providing mobile access to data. They look to replace what he calls ‘legacy methods’. Instead they adopt virtual methods like cloud-based apps.
Focus on a specific industry
One of the best ways to communicate your expertise is to specialize in a niche. Then your communication to prospects and clients is framed around your experience and expertise in the industry. A leader in your field.
As David says, “It’s not practical to be all things to all people.” Focus on an industry or a specialty. And serve your clients' other needs, through referrals. “Develop a network of complementary advisors you can refer clients to," Matt says. "That way they always get the best experience and advice.”
Promote yourself—by making it all about them
Great practitioners continually communicate their expertise to their market. The key is to do it by helping prospects and clients, not promoting your services. As Matt says, “Your content should truly help people. It establishes trust and builds relationships with prospects before they become customers.”
David conducts webinars on topics relevant to his market. Matt has a YouTube channel full of advice and how-to demonstration videos. And they share content on social media that they think will help businesses in their market. It shows they have expertise their clients will benefit from.
Both firms share content through their blogs. But they are careful to avoid the trap of blog bragging. They don’t crow about what makes them so great. They seek to help their clients. As Matt says, “Nobody cares about what you do; they only care about how you can help them.” So he always tries to understand, “What information are they looking for? How can I best help them?”
Show don’t tell. Helping clients communicates your expertise better than just telling them you’re an expert. Especially when it comes to networking. If you focus on helping others you’ll be more successful in helping yourself. As Matt says, “When networking you’re not there to sell yourself to the people you meet. Look to see if you can help any of the people in their business network.” Ultimately, that’s what demonstrates expertise and builds strong relationships.
David and Matt are great examples of practitioners who effectively communicate their expertise. They act as true advisors. They focus on their specific niches. And they put the needs of the clients first when it comes to creating value-added content. The end result—clients who trust their expertise and stronger business relationships.