Finding the Ain't

January 7, 2020

In the work I do as an outside CFO and business advisor, I rely on CPAs to handle tax work for my clients, as compliance work such as taxation is not my expertise. Recently I had a series of different meetings with a client and a few prospective CPAs.

After we’d completed our interviews, I asked my client which one he preferred.

He told me his favorite.

“Why did you like him?,” I asked.

“Because any man who says ‘ain’t’ is a man I know I can talk to,” he said.

Not exactly the answer I was expecting, but I wasn’t surprised, either.

I was expecting to hear an intangible, and the only question was which one or two might stand out for him.

I expected to hear an intangible rationale for my client’s selection because clients do not select professional services providers like CPAs, attorneys, bookkeepers, or coaches based on qualifications and expertise. They don’t really care what school you went to (unless, of course, you just happened to go to the same school they did, and then they care). They don’t care that you’ve got a great website.

Your certifications are worthless.

Yes, it’s a deliberate overstatement. Certifications and all this other stuff are vital, but only to a point. They are just the tickets to get into the show. They don’t get you backstage in that client’s mind.

What gets you backstage is to have a value conversation, and that’s what this CPA did.  He didn’t spend any valuable time covering all the things we already knew and had moved past:  his qualifications, certifications, etc. He asked a lot of “why” questions, then he shut up and listened. His use of the word “ain’t” wasn’t really the ultimate determinant for my client, of course. It was a symbol he could point to which indicated for him that this professional understood his problems, hopes, fears, and dreams.

As a professional services provider, your job is to be understood as someone who understands and holds solutions to problems, but you already know that. What can be hard to internalize, though, is that clients come to believe you have solutions because of intangibles which often have nothing to do with how you end up solving their problems.

There’s an “ain’t” with every client. Spend your time trying to find it.


Photo Credit:  "Ain’t" by Grant Hutchison is licensed under CC BY 2.0

©Ray Business Advisors, LLC and John Ray


About me:  I’m enthusiastic about how changes in pricing strategy can significantly change profitability for a business and enhance life choices for business owners. I live this passion through Ray Business Advisors, my outside CFO and business advisory practice, in which my pricing is exclusively value-based, not hourly. I work with business owners on how they can change their pricing not just to increase their profits, but better serve the wants of their customers. Click here to learn more or call me at 404-287-2627.

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