Listening is crucial to the success of all our relationships, so why wouldn’t we apply the same logic to our relationship with our accountant?
In our previous Blogs “How your account should be asking questions to help you grow” and “If you could pick two people to trust your business with, would your accountant be one of them?”, we talked about your relationship with your accountant, and how it’s not just about the numbers.
I remember one of my first ever prospecting meetings (many moons ago) with a business in the printing industry. I’d set aside a couple of hours to get to know the business and what its issues were – it was a very niche product and had specific challenges associated with a small, cost driven market.
The business had three owners, and this first meeting was initially attended by two of the three because the other owner (we’ll call him Bob for the sake of this story) was too busy to come along. Note to future self: that’s often a clear indication of a problem in the making.
Bob did eventually turn up, and asked some very specific taxation questions. I answered them, then he left the meeting. About a week later, Bob contacted me and told me that all my answers were wrong because he’d checked them with a friend of his who was a tax partner at a very large Chartered Accounting firm.
I was as confused as a chameleon in a box of Skittles because I was quite confident the information I gave him was correct. So I (nervously) rang the tax partner and had a quick chat; it turned out that while his specialty was in offshore tax, and he didn’t fully understand the questions Bob was asking him.
We did manage to get Bob onside, and to this day that client is doing very well, and along the way, we implemented a few creative ideas that they could use to grow their revenue while reducing their tax burden. Our old mate Bob subsequently left the business, but the whole process showed me the importance of asking questions and listening, so you know the advice you’re giving (or receiving) is correct.
As a company, our own processes have changed over the years, but they still have a fundamental value at its core; the importance of listening and truly understanding what the client needs (which, by the way, could be very different from what the client wants).
The basics of our listening skills are developed by very simple processes:
Ask open ended questions
Really, genuinely listen to the answer
Reflect back on what you understand the other party said
No, I’m not writing a “Listening for Dummies” book and this might seem overly simplistic, but it really is the fundamental building block of any good relationship; a relationship that will generate lots of creative ideas that the client can use to grow their revenue while minimising taxes!
Make sure you check out our recent blog “Why you might need to break up with your accountant”, which outlines all the things a good accountant should be offering you, or get in touch with us if you want to learn more about growing your revenue.