The Skill Paradox: Accountants Avoid Learning The Skill That Will Bridge The Value-Add Chasm

By Posted in - Public Blog on October 29th, 2014 2 Comments

The Skill Paradox: Accountants Avoid Learning The Skill That Will Bridge The Value-Add Chasm

As we covered in The Expertise Paradox, when it comes to business the best technicians don’t win. The best communicators do.

So what can an accountant or business advisor do to improve their communication?

I’m about to use a four-letter word will probably offend most accountants.

They can learn how to sell.

That’s right. The word ‘sell’ is offensive to many accountants and professionals, because they think selling is beneath them.

As I mentioned in The People Paradox, accountants with the all-too-prevalent ‘Grinder’ (high analytical) social profile have strong opinions about selling, such as:

  • “Selling is pushy.”
  • “No-one likes to be sold to.”
  • “If a client wants something, they’ll ask for it.”
  • “I don’t sell anything to anyone.”

Considering the advisor’s role is to make suggestions and sell courses of action to clients, these are severely limiting beliefs.

And these accountants and business advisors never get to deliver optional future-focused services because they never learn to sell them. Which is why only one in ten accountants are successfully crossing The Value-Add Chasm.

And here’s the paradox…

The skill that will help an accountant cross The Value-Add Chasm

is one they’re not only likely to be untrained in,

but also one they actively avoid learning:

Selling skills.

The real tragedy is that learning how to sell isn’t difficult. This skill set is like a footbridge—it’s just sitting there, ready for any accountant to use.

Professional selling skills for accountants—an aspect we teach in our Modern Marketing Academy and various events—are part psychology, part process and part aptitude. Sure, some social styles (‘personality types’) such as Expressives and Drivers have more natural aptitude for the skill. But it’s like swimming or riding a bicycle—pretty much anyone can improve with training and become proficient at it. (Want to know your profile type? Take our free survey.)

And yet most accountants are stranded on the crowded side of The Value-Add Chasm, complaining that their number one challenge is growth (as cited for the past six years in Business Fitness’ annual benchmarking survey, The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of the Accounting Profession).

That’s like complaining about your weight or health, but not bothering to learn about nutrition and healthy living habits.

That’s just plain dumb.

And yet, it’s the norm.

Of the 300-plus accountants who’ve completed our How Do You Rate As A Rainmaker? survey, 45.5%—almost half—say they’ve never been formally trained in face-to-face selling skills. Combine them with the accountants who haven’t received formal training in the past five years
(11.7%) or in the past two years (10.3%), and we have two-thirds of the accountants surveyed not treating selling skills as a core skill set in their role. And these statistics are biased upwards because PARADOX attracts progressive accountants who are looking to grow and innovate rather than the typical compliance-focused accountant.

That’s an indictment on the business savvy of the accounting profession.

It’s no wonder most accountants struggle to achieve their growth targets. These technically proficient advisors have wonderful tools and methodologies at their disposal, but don’t get to apply them with the majority of their clients.

Why? Because they never learn to effectively communicate value. That is, sell.

Ask yourself, what are you doing to keep yourself up-to-date with your professional selling skills? How good are you at communicating value? What regular and systematic training are you giving your advisors who you expect to actually advise?

If you’re not consistently training your advisory team (including yourself) in how to sell and the latest approaches, you’re only paying lip service to wanting to cross The Value-Add Chasm and ‘be proactive’.

The footbridge is right there in front of you. Use it. Cross it. Join us.

  • Agree with you MC, communication is key!

    To think your skills themselves will sell your services is naive when envisioning growth and prosperity of your business.
    Being able to sell your services is the make or break due to the current economic situation & technological diversity.

    There needs to be additional legwork put in to keep the pace and reach those growth targets.
    If you have the correct skills selling isn’t a pushy approach, it showing potential or existing clients the services you have to offer.

    Training your staff to communicate and sell efficiently will be extremely beneficial to your firm.
    Putting your name out there and selling your services isn’t dependant on one or few people. Think, if you have 20 staff that participate in outside work groups and networking they’re extra branches you didn’t think to utilise to your full potential.

    Communication is very highly regarded when it comes to quality client services – the numbers are behind the scenes.

  • […] accounting firms who want to offer value-add services to their clients are finding it hard to “Cross The Value-Add Chasm”, as Michael Carter of Practice Paradox puts […]

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