Sales skills and your accounting practice

Smart practice

Tuesday 01 July 2014

It is important that staff members are able to identify cross-sell or up-sell opportunities at every touch point with clients.

For example, while a client might start as a simple individual tax return client, by asking the right questions and building a relationship, that client can soon turn into a much more profitable business or self managed super fund (SMSF) client, or potentially a financial planning client.

However, clients across the country flagged this as a challenge, because their staff members do not see themselves as sales people nor do they want to sell.

So what change in skill-sets will staff need to have to service their clients moving forward?

As back-office processes become more streamlined, automated or even outsourced, there is likely to be a far greater presence required in the front office to help manage the relationship with clients.

To prepare for this, forward-looking firms have been adjusting their models and allocating a larger percentage of staff to client acquisition and engagement compared to back-office staff.

Interpersonal skills have become a much higher priority in recruitment decisions compared to previous years, when technical knowledge may have ranked higher.

This has implications for how training time is spent with most practices focusing on technical training with very little interpersonal or soft-skills guidance.

Given that practice principals flagged Generation Y in particular as preferring to avoid client-facing activities, it is clear that firms need to invest more into training and development in this area to get results.

What are progressive firms doing?

More firms are using psychometric testing and role playing during the recruitment process to see how candidates interact.

You might want to ask candidates to video themselves prior to being interviewed to see how the candidate presents and talks.

For existing staff, external consultants are being utilised to provide training at all levels, including front desk staff.

For more information, download the executive summary.

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