People Don’t Know What They Want

People Don’t Know What They Want

“People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

This is a great quote. It’s by Steve Jobs and describes so accurately what it is that Apple does through its innovation.

But it should also be applied to your accountancy practice and specifically the services you provide.

Have you ever had a client leave because they’d spoken to another accountant who offered to provide monthly management accounts, or a cash flow forecast or perhaps a business plan?

Only then do you say; “but we do that”.

And the outgoing client says; “but you never told me!”

How often do we assume that a certain type of client will only want a certain type of service? We look at them, their business and make an assessment of what it is we think they want, probably based on what we think they’re prepared to pay.

And then not talk to them about any other services because we think we know best.

I used to do this.

But not anymore.

I’ve realised that we can’t just assume what our client wants based on our pre-conceived ideas and assessment of their situation.

Or maybe more accurately what we think they’re prepared to pay for.

In order to find out what our clients want we need to ask them.

We need to talk to them, find out what it is they want to achieve. What are their goals, business and more importantly personal goals?

Twice recently I had meetings with clients I’d categorised as low service clients. The clients I’d assessed as being price sensitive.

In reality what I’d missed completely was the need to demonstrate the true value in the services we could provide.

I started to talk to them about personal goals. What did they want their business to help them achieve on a personal level?

As soon as I started talking to them in a real world ‘non-accounting’ way, I got real engagement. They really ‘got’ what it was that I was talking about. They could see the value and were happy to pay the fees I was charging for these services to help them achieve their personal goals.

So, whenever I talk to accountants about the services they provide I focus on two points:

  1. Make sure you talk to your clients and make them aware of all the services you can provide. How do you know what services they want? Ask them what their goals are, what issues and problems they have, how much better they would feel if these problems were overcome and they could achieve their goals. Then work out a way you can help them.
  2. . With higher level business development and coaching services, focus on the outcome and the value of that outcome. That might be more profit, less working hours, more time with the family or less stress. Once you do this, and do it well, price becomes a secondary consideration rather than a primary one.

So back to Steve Jobs – show a client how you can help them, only then can they really decide what they want…