Leadership / Management | Training & CPE

Think you know your clients? Think again

Agree How many of you think you know what your clients want?

OK, you can all put your hands down, because I have another question: How many of your clients would agree that you know what they want?

We all like to think that we know what our clients want, that we're providing real value that will improve their lives. According to Mike Schultz, though, reality paints a very different picture.

"There's a pretty strong disconnect between how buyers are buying and how (professional service providers) believe they are selling," said Schultz, president of the management consulting firm Wellesley Hills Group and publisher of RainToday.com, a site that provides professional service firms with advice and resources. "I think it all boils down to human nature. We all think we are better than we are."

To prove his point, Schultz pointed to a 2008 survey from Bain & Company. In it, 80 percent of professional service providers said they offer clients a superior experience -- but only 8 percent of clients agreed.

Likewise, Schultz's group has surveyed people who buy professional services and found that:

  • 38 percent of them said their professional service provider does not listen to them.
  • 30 percent said their provider does not respond in a timely manner.
  • 30 percent said their provider does not understand their needs.
  • 24 percent said their relationship with the provider has no personal chemistry.
  • 22 percent said the provider has not crafted a compelling solution to their needs.

So how do we bridge that gap? According to Schultz, the first step is to do what we say we are going to do. Little things like showing up on time, returning calls and meeting deadlines go a long way toward building trust and enhancing reputations.

That sounds simple enought, but Schultz says there are lots of other ways in which CPAs and other professional service providers can successfully sell their services and build trust and loyalty with clients. Listen to what he has to say in this CPA Spotlight podcast.

Learn more at the Expo
Schultz will present a session titled "How Clients Buy Accounting and Professional Services" during Day 1 of the Maryland Business and Accounting Expo, slated for June 16-17 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Get complete details about the Expo and register here.


Bill Sheridan