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Communicating With Your Clients in Plain English

Published by Summit Marketing Team on May 18, 2022 6:00:00 AM

The Modern CPA Success Show: Episode 64


In this episode, Jamie Nau, our host and Summit CPA's Director of Accounting/Virtual CFO and Jody Grunden, our CEO and Co-founder sits down with The Accidental Accountant®, Peter Margaritis to talk about how communicating effectively with clients is an integral part to maintain good relationships with clients. He will give us tips and tricks from years of experience so that we can communicate better with our clients in plain English.




How to Communicate With Your Clients in Plain English with Peter Margaritis


Jamie: Hello, everybody.

Jamie: Welcome to today's show. Today we have a guest that really needs no introduction. He is all over the internet, all over the accounting world. Um, and he's, um, does a lot of speaking and really I'm really excited about this guest and to get into this topic, but before we get there, um, want to welcome Jodie, back to the show?

Jody: Yeah. Thanks, Jamie. I'm really looking forward to talking with Peter. We, uh, met him for the first time at the DCPA, uh, just this last. Over this last year and, uh, really, uh, really enjoyed his conversations that he had with the team at the talk that he had. Um, it, it was pretty enlightening and I thought this would be a great, uh, individual have on our have on our podcast for sure.

Jody: Looking forward to,

Jamie: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So, um, as Jody mentioned, uh, Peter Margaritis is our, um, our guest today and he's from the accidental accountants. So if you do want to take, we'll talk a little bit about that name and kind of what you do.

Peter: Well, thank you guys for having me on the podcast. We're looking forward to this lock, um, during a performance review, when I used to work on Victoria's Secret catalog, not as a model, you guys not as my own, but I appreciate the thoughts.

Peter: I was my, my cheeks hadn't hit the seat and my boss looked at me and said, how in the heck did you ever become a CPA CPA? Seeing it down here in the numbers, you only get you this far. You're an accidental accountant. And actually thanked her. Cause that's the nice thing she said to me all year.

Peter: Yeah. So I that's, that's how that name came about. This store is a lot longer, but it's, it gets a little bit boring after a while. So we'll just go with that piece.

Jamie: Yeah. Once you mentioned a Victoria secret, I think a lot of our listeners got interested and then it went right out from there. So yeah.

Jamie: All right. So a prior to the show, we talked a little bit about, you know, I think that, uh, there's, there's a lot of technical, uh, language out there. And a lot of times people in fields really when they public speak or when they're talking to their customers or their clients they've really get caught up in the technical jargon.

Jamie: I think talking down on talking to people's intelligence level and really translating stuff to plain English is kind of what one of your strengths is Peter. So I think that's what we'd like to talk about today is how to take that technical jargon and really get it so everybody can understand it. So let's, let's start there.

Peter: Well first I'll speak to any technical profession, whether it's I.T., whether it's academy was, is art metal medical, you have a technical language that only, you know, uh, for example, I, I, my doc called me, uh, one Friday afternoon at 4:30 and it was her. That's never good when your doctor calls. And then she goes, we got the test results back and went into this litany of medical lingo.

Peter: And we were not like maybe 15, 20 seconds. I said, docs, stop, stop. Just put it in plain English for me. Oh, okay, Pete. You might have cancer. Okay. At least now that I know, but she was able to do, but I had to stop her, but a lot of times we think everybody understands that language. Uh, I, I tell, I tell accountants.

Peter: Uh, I asked people what's what foreign language you speak?. A few people raised their hands, maybe Spanish or Japanese or something. And oh I asked the question wrong, how many of you speak the foreign language of business called accounting? And they all start laughing. And I know it's funny. Right. But have you ever put somebody who's sleep talking to them?

Peter: Cause you can see the deer in the headlights eyes and now doing just exactly what you did. Jamie, everybody's shaking their head and it doesn't matter if you're an I.T. medical account or whatever. We have to realize that we speak this technical language riddled with acronyms, that when our audience isn't like us, we need to find a way to translate it into plain English.

Peter: So there's understanding.

Jamie: Yeah, I know one thing. So in my previous life, I was working at an airline company, Frontier Airlines, and I would always tell this to my team. They'd come in and they were trying to explain some error and hedge accounting to me, and they spent five minutes and I would just sit there and look at them and I'd be like, okay, you need to explain this to me.

Jamie: Like I'm my 12-year-old daughter, my 12-year-old daughter needs to understand what you're saying here so we can understand exactly what happened. And again, I'm an accountant, I'm a CPA and it's just the, how technical some accountants can get, or even people in other careers can get is it's just, it's crippling.

Jamie: At times

Peter: I had was doing a, uh, A and A update in Arizona back in 2013. And one of the things on the docket was consolidations of variable interest entities. And I'm going, oh my goodness. And I tried to get out of doing it. I say, you sure you want me to put this next to please? It's on the bag. So the night before I'm sitting there looking at my slides, riddled with words river, with all this, I said, this is, this is going to put up.

Peter: I'm going to be an anesthesiologist. So I said, there's a, what are they trying to do? What what's really what they're trying to do. They're trying to take something from here and put it over here. And I went, wait a minute. They're trying to move something through here. And move it in over here, but over here doesn't want it dawns an idea.

Peter: So the next day, when I got to that slide, I saw everybody begin to conference per they immediately grabbed their phones and bowed their head, uh, because it's more. And I, I said, this is my second or third year here. Let me just play with, along with me. So I asked everybody in the audience, how many of you are married.

Peter: Well, your hands go up and go. How many of you have a mother-in-law and he has staff. I said, I want you to think of your mother-in-law as a variable interest entity and your spouse wants their mother to move into your household permanently. Let me rephrase that. Your spouse what's their motive consolidate onto your balance sheet.

Peter: And I just, I just ran with that. And Jamie, I got a really cool last night, Jody. Yeah. I get a lot of comments on it, but when I go back there to zone, if anybody was at that conference, you're the mother-in-law guy. That is the best compliment I could get because I created this fictitious story that was relatable to almost everybody in that room.

Peter: And somebody asked me, how did you do that? I went unbeknownst to me. I was using the improv principles connect to things that don't seem like they would ever connect to each other and create a story out of it. And I did it. I, I was, I was pleasantly surprised that it worked.

Jamie: Yeah, no, that's a, that's a great analogy.

Jamie: And again, I I've been in so many of those conferences where you look at the topic and you're like, oh boy, I have a CPA talking to me about variable interest entities. And I'm just going to sit in the back and play on my phone or do it. I can just to get my CP on this credit. Cause there's no way I would be able to follow it.

Jamie: This person's talking about. And I think that doing it in presentations is great. And I know Jody, we do something similar. I think when we go out and talk to our, to our clients, I think that's one of the ways we've picked up so many clients.

Jody: Oh, yeah, for sure. I mean, just the way that we dress, the way that we talk, the way that we communicate, the way that we listen, you know, a lot of that is important when we first, uh, what, my, based on the, the, uh, when we first got started, you know, they, I was asked to speak in front of, it was like 30 owners of CPA firms and a really brilliant individuals, you know, that they came from all over the United States.

Jody: Some actually from other kinds of. And, um, I was the loan finance guy on the, on the, uh, on the docket. Right. So, and I started off. So it was, it was one of those things. I, I I'm really prepared a lot. Not really, I didn't prepare at all. I couldn't think of anything, you know, cause they said, no PowerPoints, you know, just be yourself, you know, mostly answer questions, you know, all that kind of stuff.

Jody: And so I'm like, I just don't know what to talk about. And so then it dawned on me. It's like, well, Let me kind of relay and show these chilis folks how to be profitable. And so I got the easel board out, uh, cause again, no PowerPoints or anything like that. And I, and I started to write down, you know, first I started off and asked everybody if they could increase.

Jody: If everybody in the room could increase their, their, uh, pricing by a dollar where they lose a client and everybody kept their hand up. And then I said, now drop your hand. As I get further along, they went $5, hands up, $10, couple hands went down. You know, I got all the way up to like $50 an hour. And, and finally I got like four or five people.

Jody: So I said, okay, so fit for $50 an hour. A lot of people in here could raise their prices and still maintain their clients. They're like, yeah, sure. Like, okay, let's, let's, you know, keep that in mind. And so then I went through and I, I said, okay, here's what an individual. And I got my, my perfect, you know, I mean, I'm in front of a bunch of creative agencies and, and they, and they, and they, they really have a really knack of being able to write and draw pictures really.

Jody: Well, here I am an accountant. Can't draw at all. And so I, I start with my stick figures, actually. It's kind of funny and I hate to admit this. I can't even calculate in my head very well. So I actually had one of, one of the people pull out a calculator and I told them I, I can't calculate very well, so I'm gonna need to do some calculations for me.

Jody: So he started with the little stick figure. And I said, you know, one person should work 2000, you know, and basically I started with 2080 hours a year, and then I broke it down into, you know, basically utilization, average bill rate, you know, what they should charge per hour. And I came down to, you know, Hey, this person should, you know, every person should bill about, it was like 200, $200,000 a year for an agency.

Jody: And I'm like, wow, that's pretty cool. And then, then he multiplied that by. Um, by 20 people or 30 people, whatever it was ended up being like 300, you know, a big, a big revenue number, then I show, Hey, here's the profitability. So every person should generate this much profit for it. And I built that out. And so I started the conversation with the, everybody should everybody in the room or every company should at least maintain 10% of their annualized revenue of the bank at all times, which was, you know, for a $3 million firm, you're looking at $300,000.

Jody: And I go, how many people, you know, have have 10% and hardly anybody in the room did. I go, I'm going to show you how to do that. And so what I, what I did is I said, okay, so let's go ahead and change the average bill rate. Just by $10. You, everybody here said they could do it by 50 bucks and wouldn't hardly lose a client.

Jody: So $10 shouldn't be a problem. They did that. And it came up to an extra $300,000 a year. And it was like, it was like, wow. It was like really cool. It was like, the lights went off and was like, boy, this is pretty cool. I could do this just by, you know, Teaching how everything should run in a business, you know, and how they can influence that.

Jody: Uh, and basically it came down to the dollar amounts. And so I guess to, to your point there, it was like, again, taking the, the, the very easy thing and making it so that it's very relatable, uh, for them to understand, not once I say anything about accounting in there at all, it was more like, Hey, here's the people, here's how it works.

Jody: You know? And, and I called utilization, average bill rate sales, you know, their average price, you know, all that kind of stuff. And, uh, Twitter just kind of went, blew up on me. And at that point I didn't have, I didn't even really know what Twitter was or didn't really, I have a good grasp on Twitter. And, uh, you know, it was one of those things that they, you know, they were just, you know, Twittering away how great the sky is and how, how relatable it was and that sort of thing.

Jody: And that's kind of what got me sparked or got me started, you know, talking to different. Uh, groups and conferences like that, because it was just, it was so fun. First of all, it was, it was fun. It was really educational. It was value added to them by far. And, uh, they, they really took response to it. So it was, it was pretty cool.

Jody: But again, to your point,

Jamie: Yeah. I think the stories both of you told as I was hearing, you know, you guys kind of tell your stories. I think the first thing you did was make it relatable. Right? So Peter talking about, okay, who in here is married and you know, again, any room you're going to be in here, hopefully 75% of the group, you know, is probably getting married.

Jamie: So that's one relation. And then Jody obviously bringing it back to something they live and breathe every day, their businesses. And so I think, you know, having that again, like the analogy used, it was too great as well. Peter we have like the let's disconnect two things that are really far apart from each other, but also something that's relatable to wide group of the room.

Jamie: And so I think that's also also key there.

Peter: Yeah. It's how relatable can we make it? And, and, and how can we get away from acronyms as well? I mean, Jody, you said DCPA, is that the Delaware CPA association or is that the disorganized CPA or? It was, it was a digital CPA conference. Uh, I did a presentation for, uh, the construction department.

Peter: at Target. And in preparation for this cause they were taking two of my books and blending it together. The improv is no joke. It takes the numb by the numbers. Um, I asked them for what acronyms do you use? They sent me eight pages. Front and back of acronyms. And I just started laughing hysterically and I contacted one of my comedic friends and I said, Hey, help me write something on this.

Peter: So we created this eye test for the, you know, you're looking at an eye chart and can you read line 31? And then I just started making, creating my own titles for these things, just to bring the humor around it. It's like, this is ridiculous, but all organizations have it and we speak. And you know, you say STC.

Peter: That can be the Southeastern conference and the excuses change commission depends on what part of the country you're in. If you're in Alabama, it doesn't matter. It's still the south Eastern conference.

Peter: So, um, the more relatable to what they do and to Jody's point, he's curing a pain point. And he's, he's, he's busting down a wall because, you know, you might have some tire kickers and those you, as you referred to some folks that they're just trying to test drive it, but when you can show them in real numbers and talk to in a relatable way, oh my God, light bulbs, just go off.

Peter: I just start switching. And there's a, there's an emotional attachment there that, you know, our brains can handle. Uh, thousands and tons of data, facts, and figures, but that doesn't track decision-making and emotions drive decisions. Yeah,

Jamie: no, I agree. And I was going to talk about the acronyms a little bit.

Jamie: And I think the funny thing is, is now that, you know, we work from home. A lot of people are on their computers all the time. Like I was in a meeting the other day and someone mentioned one and I had to like Google it. So I was typing in the letters and I Google it. It's crazy. Like you said, all the things that come up, especially like, you know, if an urban dictionary link comes up, like, oh, okay.

Jamie: I can see, I can see what

Jody: you hope you find the right

Jamie: ones. Add to the conversation there. So.

Jody: You know, I, I think we could all get better at, uh, you know, taking the large words out of the conversation. Um, you know, it's so often that, you know, the acronyms, the large words that maybe people just, not everybody in the room, not every room knows or understands.

Jody: And it's, it's more, I think more for us to say that we understand. So it's kind of a justification that we understand something. So we use the acronyms, we use the, you know, the large words. Yeah. When you're talking to people, you can't assume that everybody understands, you know, all your big fancy words, right.

Jody: Yet you kinda have to bring it down to, you know, like, I think you had mentioned Jamie, you know, what your eighth grader or what your 10th grader would understand, you know, that that's, that's the, uh, I think that's the key to speaking. It's key to writing. Definitely. I mean, like I could write a really, my books would be boring if they were just talked about, you know, big, fancy words and really getting into.

Jody: The dictionary definition where when you write a book or when you, when you need to do a speech or a talk, or when you're even just talking with a client, um, I think it's important to, to try to avoid that as much as possible.

Peter: I think it also goes to a lot of someone's ego. Some people like to use big fancy words just to make them sound smarter than they are.

Peter: Or, you know, I look at me, I'm the smartest guy or gal in the room, but they're making it about themselves. They're not making it about the audience. And that's the other piece. This is not about you. You're just, you're just a conduit of this vast amounts of information that you need to translate. So somebody can actually act on it.

Peter: Versus going. I have no idea what you're talking about at all.

Jody: Yeah. And when they, when they hear that big word they're there, they're focused. Just went away because now they're trying to think, what, what does that word mean? And here you're, you've talked three or four different sentences, maybe paragraphs or you've maybe spoke for five more minutes and they're still trying their, their brain is still back there trying to figure out.

Jody: at that man, and it's a loss of concentration. So I mean, I truly, I, I agree with the a hundred percent, the acronyms, they really need to go and big words really need to be used very limited.

Peter: Right. I mean, you think about a non accountant where they hear the word depreciation and they think that's the value.

Peter: They lose their car when they drive off a new car lot. But the account will go, no, no, no, no, no. It's a systematic allocation of an asset over time.

Jamie: Yeah. There's the reason, that's the reason that people avoid us at parties, right? Like, oh, there's the CPA in the room. Like this guy going to be like, I want to get talking to him about business. It's just going to put me to sleep. But I think that, you know, even in the interview process and when we're talking to people, especially at the CFO level, Definitely.

Jamie: One of the things I look for is, okay, is this person going to come in and be the guy that quotes literature or reads, quotes exactly from books or whatever, or is this person gets to be someone that's down to earth and can just talk business with me. And, you know, like I said, they, those are the people that really are successful in this, um, in this field that we're in.

Peter: Absolutely. I was sharing a story, uh, at, at the conference about a colleague of mine. I refer to. So you need an accountant. I've heard to an accounting firm and it was a rough go at first because she didn't, she she's brilliant at what she does, but she doesn't do accounting. She does the real stuff, coaches, executive coach, and all that heavy lifting stuff.

Peter: And we had talked about to give them some time work through it. And then about 10 months into the project, she called me crying. And well, what are you doing? Crying? What's the matter I just got off with off of a virtual meeting with my CPA firm. I didn't understand a word. They said, they made me feel stupid, not their intent, but that was the realization.

Peter: And they put the spreadsheet on the screen and it shows, it felt like there was like 300 columns and 800 rows on this thing. And they were just talking right through this and I almost had to get like an air sick bag. So I actually, she had, she convinced me. To be her virtual or fractional CFO and be the translator between the firm and her.

Peter: So she has an understanding of the business now. And it's, and I've talked to the firm a little bit about this. Here's where I heard we're trying, but we're just so busy. Sometimes we can't and I, I bit my tongue, I bit my tongue and said, that's not good enough. And same thing with I.T. Same thing with with all these technical professions, we have to take the time, make the time and, and, uh, find a charge code, like how I'm translating I.T. into English.

Peter: I'm developing an app for that, or I'm developing the accounting to English app and spend time on trying to figure out ways of translating. I

Jamie: think the first point there is, is great. So I think for our listeners, if you were working with a CPA firm and you don't look forward to the final statement meeting and you know that it's going to be like a 30 minute nap or a 45 minute nap, then, you know, get someone else, get someone that can translate for you.

Jamie: Cause that's financials are too important to be that boring, you know? And I think that's, you know, when I, when I train our internal CFOs, I tell them all the time, I'm like, okay, Don't go page by page, word by word. No one wants to hear that, like call out the highlights and then make it relatable. Let's talk about their business.

Jamie: Let's talk about the future because that's what the people want to listen to us. So I think definitely for our listeners, like, again, if you're listening to a finance meeting and you regret it, you don't want to be there, then it might be time to find someone that can translate for you. Yeah.

Jody: Yeah. If you just simply get the financial statements and have no idea how to read them, you know, seek out somebody that can translate, uh, like, like Peter, done.

Peter: I just, I interviewed this woman. Who's a managing partner of a firm in Iowa and she, she gets it I'm machine. She goes, we actually try to teach our, our, our small business owners about what we do, but we don't use the words and stuff. And what they do in their financial meetings is they record them and they send it to them.

Peter: And it's like a 10 minute and then going through just hitting on the highlights on the highlights and send it to them because they might not be able to spend an hour with them, or so, uh, at two o'clock in the afternoon, but they can watch it at night or first thing in the morning. If they have questions, they call them.

Peter: And, but I thought that was a brilliant idea on their part.

Jamie: Yeah, no, my, my favorite financial meetings I've ever had are ones where I talk for like two minutes and then whatever I said, brought up a question and we go completely different direction of what I thought we were going to talk about. And we're in that meeting and an hour's up already and like, oh wow.

Jamie: We just talked for an hour about something. I had no idea we would talk about. But the one thing I said in the beginning triggered this question that got us down this road. Like again, some people would be terrified by that. Like I had this whole agenda, I had all these things I wanted to talk about and I didn't get to any of them, but that's, that's me is the best financial statement meeting is where you actually hit a topic and you just don't keep going into it.

Jamie: Cause that's, they're interested in.

Jamie: Great. So let's, um, let's turn the, turn the corner here a little bit. And let's, let's talk about, you know, again, we've talked a lot about in the CPA front and let's, let's talk about for, um, for other industries and other languages. And so where, where is this important again? I think we've talked about the speaking, the public speaking part, but let's talk about like the sales side of things and how important it is to have the communication and the good language when it comes to sales, when you're in a very technical industry.

Jamie: So, gentlemen, let's you talk about this a little bit to start off.

Jody: Yeah, with the waste with our sales process, it's, it's fairly a simple process. It's an hour long process. A lot of times it doesn't even go that long. And, uh, with that, you know, the first thing we're doing is we're trying to figure out, you know, why are they here?

Jody: Why are they sitting in front of us? You know, why, you know, because we didn't, we didn't go out and we didn't go out and drag them into the sales call. They came to us. And so it's important to figure out. You know, Hey, what, what issues do we need to solve? Or what, you know, w w what, where are the kinks in the armor?

Jody: What they're currently have and asking tons of just leading questions, you know, you know, just basically started, Hey, so how can I help you? And that kind of rolls into that. And then from there, breaking it down, even simpler, and then presenting to them a very easy. Um, way to price there, there, there, the program, like with ours, we have a pricing calculator.

Jody: We just pop right up and it, it it's like Carvana, you click on what you like. And don't like, and boom, you've got a price and it is what it is. It's not like Carvana, you go back and say, can I get a better price? That is the price. And that's how we use our calculator and clients love it because even, even, you know, we only close.

Jody: I say we only close about 40% of our leads, which is, I think is pretty solid, but sick, but I'd say a hundred percent of the people that go through the process, we get a compliment, you know, it's like, Hey, that was pretty cool. You know, I appreciate that. It was real straightforward. Real easy. I wish other people did this and, and other, you know, and it just made it, it made the process so simple for them, uh, that they could make a, an informed decision, um, right there.

Jody: And I'd say probably out of that, we, we probably get five to 10% of the clients that we close, um, are ready to sign on the dotted line that day, you know, after that conversation. And, and it's kind of, kind of amazing, cause our average price is about $70,000. For, a new, you know, to do our service. And it goes from like 30 to a hundred and $150-$200,000.

Jody: But the average is around 70 and you know, that that's a lot of money to, within an hour. Uh, someone make that decision and it happens again, 40% of the time. Cause again, it's, it's more of a conversation. That's not, you know, th th th there's no, we don't talk accounting at all. You know, we talk about, you know, how it can help them out, you know, and, and basically answer the questions and problems that they might have.

Jody: And so again, making it very easy for them to make that decision is important.

Jamie: And I think they're too. And Peter, I'm gonna throw this over to you is I think we've all been in those sales calls where I think you used the word showing off earlier, Peter, but like the person is trying to show off their knowledge to you.

Jamie: Like, you know, you're thinking of, okay, we're going to, we're going to add this new process. We're going to add this new application to our, to our system. And they're trying to explain the ins and outs of how it works and doing like a demonstration for you. And you're just like, wow, this is way too technical for me.

Jamie: And I think this is really where you can help out with this question. Peter is, is. In the sales process, how do you translate it and relate it to the, to the clients that way they're not just bored with the technical jargon of it.

Peter: Uh, CPAs and technical people. They like to give all the information to them down to the nano piece.

Peter: And it's just this flood of numbers and words and data and facts and figures and data and facts and figures. And really what's the three most important things. On the cell phone, w one we'll try and the pure pain point. So let's figure out what that pain point is and to then how do we, how do we put it in place?

Peter: But there, you know, I was talking to a firm, uh, not too long ago. And they said we had this one gentleman and the guy's brilliant, technically sound. He's a, he's a tax code, head, you know, Dakota. And we had, we as a firm, had to make a decision because he, we would not never put him in front of a client Or do a presentation.

Peter: So we had to make a decision on, do we keep him, or do we tell him you've got, as far as you can tell them to go someplace else. And they realized he brought value, but they weren't going to put them in front of clients as the same thing. Are we putting the right people in front of the client when we're on a sales call and how much

Peter: You know, sales training, do they actually have a buddy of mine was a pharmaceutical sales rep. He, he just recently retired and he likes to remind me of it every time he calls me he's retired. And, uh, uh, he said towards the pharmaceutical sales, very strict, very strict, very structured. And he'd come in with his iPad and slides and stuff in one of the last, uh, last sales call he made, he walked in the doctor's office and I forgot what, what drug he was.

Peter: Do it at the time. And he told the doctor, all of the side effects were related to this drug. And it wasn't just a few, I mean, it was a and the doc says, well, why would I like to write this script? And then he slowly here's the benefits. And just went on about the benefits of it flipped that sales call. And guess what?

Peter: Who's writing a script now for? Well, the guy that the guy made champions club three consecutive years in a row because he knew how to sell because he would also do something else. He would listen. And a lot of times in sales meetings, we're not listening because we've already scripted this thing out in our head.

Peter: And this is, this is what we need to go off script we're prepared, but then you walk into that room and you want that script up and you throw it away and you listened to what the client. The person is asking for telling you, and you react in that manner. Not the way you've scripted out goes a long way, but a lot of times we're not listening because okay.

Peter: If he says I'm going to do this way. Well, this is going to happen, or I need to follow this flow chart now, thorough away. And just be honest, I think because you can be as good listeners and ask a lot of questions.

Jamie: Yeah. I've been in those sales processes before where, you know, they asked me a question. Okay.

Jamie: I spent seven, eight minutes answering it. And then the next question is it seems like it's coming from left field. Like I just gave them seven minutes of information about my company, about what we do. And then the next question is just like totally random, totally scripted. You're like, okay, you, must've not just listened to it where I said, I am going to go with it.

Jamie: You didn't take any of it. So yeah, it just doesn't feel good. You know, someone's not listening to you. How

Jody: many times have we been, even outside of the sales process, you know, go into a financial statement, presentation or a, you know, a strategy meeting or whatever we're having. Let's create spreadsheet or whatever, whatever the presentation is.

Jody: And all of a sudden, you know, you're, you're asking, Hey, what's going on? And, and it goes a completely different direction, you know? And you never even talk about the spreadsheet. You spent hours on you, you may have, you may have mentioned it or set a high 1.4, but he never really got into it. And a lot of the CPAs are they're.

Jody: So they're so that they're so defensive or they're so proud of it or there's something there. We'll steer them back to that spreadsheet, you know, and, and the client doesn't really care about the spreadsheet, you know, that, you know, at all, you know, they, they cared about something that they were trying to explain to your, or, or tell you, or the issue that they had.

Jody: And, uh, you know, I guess the, the, the listing part is the huge part, uh, because you can go in, you can be prepared in a sales presentation. You can be overly prepared on a financial statement presentation, but by listening. It could go a completely different direction and you've got to take it that direction.

Jody: You want to, you want to take it the way that the client or the prospect is leaning towards.

Peter: I got a question. What do you think in those situations where, you know, Jamie's describing and gave him seven minutes worth of primal material? They didn't even take that in. Makes me think that they really don't know their client.

Peter: They might know them from the financial statement, but they'd never been inside the building. They've never, they've never been watched how the flow stuff comes in, gets churned and goes out. They just see it on a financial statement related to the numbers. They don't have the, they have no operational knowledge of the business.

Peter: And I think that's another big breakdown is, is how well do you know your client, your customer? And how well do you know their internal processes and procedures that you can step away from? The financial statement will make it more relatable by golly. Remember we had that, we had that huge snowstorm. And we couldn't get stuff in the building.

Peter: That's why things were running behind. That's why this is this. This is that versus, uh, you're down 20% in profitability.

Jamie: I love the accounting voice by

Jody: the way.

Peter: Sounds so familiar.

Jamie: No. I think that to the point there too as well. I think the other part of that is I think a lot of people, and again, I know when I work with our CFOs, especially when they first start is you are looking at your calendar of like, okay, I gotta survive this day. Right. Okay. I have four meetings today at four financial state means I just got to get through them.

Jamie: And so you're, you're just, okay. The meetings were 20 minutes in. Okay. I got, I can just move to the next point as opposed to, okay. I'm going to go into this meeting and add value in listen, and really just have a conversation with someone. And then once you get to that point, it takes a lot of the pressure off to Jody's point.

Jamie: Like, again, I know it's frustrating when you spend three hours preparing for a meeting and you put all these pretty spreadsheets together and they don't get used, but end of the day, if that's the client's looking for that meeting ends up going a lot easier. And that prep, you did that three hours of prep that you did building something else also had you in the right state of mind where you can easily pivot.

Jamie: And so I think that's. That's that's the key there. So I think, yeah, to that point. Yeah. It was just about, don't just go through your day, you know, I don't just like take things off your list, like go into those meetings, being invested in being ready to talk and I think is key there.

Jody: Yeah. And Peter, you've made a great point.

Jody: How well do you know your client? Um, you know, when you, when you're a brick and mortar, when you can actually physically walk into their location or, or if you were in the same city and you know that there was a snowstorm or whatever that might be. How, how would you do that in a remote environment where really, a lot of times you don't ever shake hands with the client, you know, you don't ever visit their factory or their place of employment, or really get to meet their, their team on a personal basis.

Jody: Like you would on a, on, on a brick and mortar type of thing, you know, w one thing, and one thing I would say is, and I'd like to get your, your thought on it as well as. When we go through financials and we go through the numbers, instead of just assuming, you know, Hey, labor's down 24%, blah, blah, blah. We just ask simple questions, you know?

Jody: W w w why do you think that happened? You know, what, what happened last month that could have caused that to happen? And boom, the client then starts getting more involved in the, in the, in the discussion and, and oh, because of the snowstorm he had that. Oh, that makes sense. I heard about that. And then you kind of go, then you can kind of relate more and more in.

Jody: So in a distributed world, the way that we get around that, as we ask questions, you know, we, we don't assume that we know the answer to everything. And, and, and I think that should be the way in any, any situation. But, you know, by asking those questions all the time, you know, making yourself vulnerable, uh, the client really feeds into that and they, and they really helps them solve their own problems.

Jody: A lot of times. How do you go about how, how, what, what other recommendations would you make outside of asking questions?

Peter: Well, I think that's, that's key to asking questions because, you know, tell me, like, tell me about your business. A lot of times somebody will come up to me and say, so what do you do? I said, tell me about what you do first and what entrepreneur doesn't like to talk about their business.

Peter: So you flip you flip that and then, and then they're giving you all this information up front. So you just started to learn about the business. We're asking questions, but I think maybe even taking them to another level depends on how many different departments that they have. I think the one thing I wanted to talk to is ahead of sales, And find out how, what that sales process is and what, what does that pipeline look like and how has it been and, and get, get more, get more information from that aspect.

Peter: And then, then hit distribution and find out what, talk to the head of distribution. What challenges do they run into? What issues do they have? Um, is there, uh, you know, we can, we can sort of tell from the financial statements, uh, if their equipment might be a little bit older than normal, and maybe I need to get some new equipment, but just if we can, if we can get access to those ends of the heads of those departments to just have maybe a 1530 minute conversation with us, just so we learn a little bit more about their business.

Peter: I think it goes a long way and being that trusted business advisor that the AICP has been taunting for years and years and years. However I'll probably never get another ASCPA job again. But th th th th they're working more on the trusted financial advisor versus the business advisor. The business advisor understands what goes on and HR sales, distribution, customer customers, all those areas, not just financial statements.

Jamie: Yeah. And, you know, but we always tell our CPAs too, is, you know, the financial statements are the language of business. And once you understand that it's not too hard to translate to any other area. So yeah, I think it's a great point. So, um, we're actually right on time here. So I wanted to make sure we could wrap this up, but I think we've done a really nice job kind of hitting on the three sides of the triangle of, of really relatability.

Jamie: I think the one is. Public speaking, the two was in sales and I think three is with existing customers, especially when you're in the service side. So I think we've done a nice job covering those things, but I want to give each of you guys a second for a, for a last thought here. So we'll, we'll start with our guests.

Jamie: Uh, Peter, you'd go first. What's your last thought?

Peter: If you're in a technical profession, think about how you can translate it to the language of your client in a way that they can understand and act on. And don't just be a day to dump. Find the emotion there, you know, that, that helps in decision-making. I like Jody showing, well, it, the emotion, if you just add $10, look what could happen here.

Peter: Now that's a fact, that's a pain point, but that's also $10. We have an emotional attraction towards money, right. That drives a lot of us. So yeah, it makes you, you bring emotion into that conversation.

Jamie: Great.

Jody: I would say, you know, w with emotions, what drives everything. I mean, it drives, you know, like, like you mentioned, the sales processes drives how well you're relatable to clients, you know, clients like your clients trust you, all that kind of stuff.

Jody: But, but I'd also, you know, like the, oh, I can't overemphasize just being down to earth and being, you know, don't talk over the client. I mean, that does nothing, you know, like you mentioned the doctor's scenario. Um, you know, th the doctor didn't mean anything about it. I mean, probably didn't even realize that she was doing it right.

Jody: And it wasn't and not doing it. And then all of a sudden it there's that disconnect, you know, and we, as accountants do it all the time, lawyers do it all the time. Engineers do it all. We, we all professionals do it all the time and it, and we don't have to pound our chest and act like we're the smartest and best person ever, you know, just be down to earth and talk to people on their level.

Jody: And it goes so, so far. Yeah. Uh, the conversation is much more enjoyable, that there's much more understandable and very relatable. And I think that's really the key. The public speaking. And it's the key, the key that we use when we teach our CFOs the, Hey, don't talk accounting, nobody wants to hear accounting, you know, talk about their business.

Jody: You know, what drives their business? How many trucks do they need to put through in order to get the revenue they need to have? You know, no one can increase just magically increase your revenue next year by 10%. What does it take to do that? It takes 20 widgets a month, you know, and you can kind of break it down to where they can relate and control.

Jody: I think, I think that's really key to everything is just make everything relatable. Okay.

Jamie: Yeah. Well, definitely appreciate both you Peter and Jody. I think this was a great show and it might be a one that I I'll listen to after the fact we talked about that player. So

Peter: you guys, thanks for having me guys appreciate it.

Peter: This is great. Enjoy this podcast. Visit our website @summitcpa.net. To get more tips and strategies for achieving business success. We're here to be a resource in this ever-changing industry.


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