How to go from fear to familiar - An introduction to business development for accountants

Accountants, when you think about business development activities, do you cringe? Get nervous? Dread the thought?

Business development is essential for nearly every accountant. It’s the foundation and life line of your firm. And it doesn’t have to be scary. 

Social media allows us to market our professional services from the comfort of our desks and increase the visibility of our expertise to a wide audience. However, face-to-face contact still has to happen to develop trust with prospects, referral sources and clients. Each of us has our own personalities and preferences and how you do business development should reflect that. 

The hardest part is to start. It’s human nature to fear the unfamiliar, but once you’re talking you’ll find your knowledge and experience will guide you through many conversations.

If you’re quiet and a bit shy but love accounting and working with clients, your greatest business development opportunities happen when you’re meeting one-on-one with your clients and prospects. This arrangement is more relaxed allowing you to confidently demonstrate your expertise.

If you’re more outgoing and have no trouble meeting others, networking is a great way to meet new prospective clients. Strike up a conversation with two or three different people at meetings and events. Ask questions to learn more about them. You’ll broaden your knowledge of them and possibly even learn more about a new industry along the way.

Joining a more senior accountant, like a principal, during client meetings or networking events can give you great exposure to different business development styles. It also takes the pressure off you to keep conversations going entirely on your own. Tag along or join a few people during these situations and you’ll observe the differences in their approaches.

You’ll develop your own style of meeting with prospects, referral sources and clients that is a best fit for you and your strengths. Don’t worry if the first few times it doesn’t feel familiar or you wished you’d said something other than you did. Everyone has been new at this at some time in their careers. 

The more you do it, the better and more comfortable you get. Success lies just on the other side of that fear.

 
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Christine Nietzke