The Top 3 Negotiating Skills Every Accountant Needs
As a negotiation skills speaker for accountants and the accounting industry, I routinely get questions from meeting attendees who are accountants as to the top negotiating skills they need to “get the engagement.” The accountants are surprised when I explain that it’s not about delivering a lengthy rationale in regard to price per hour or technical skills. There are more essential negotiation skills that are all too often ignored.
Top 3 Accounting Negotiation Skills to Get the Engagement
1. Make Sure They Know Who You Are – Why would I place this negotiating skill for accountants as the first on my list? Getting the engagement is generally not contingent on technical expertise. Given any group of top accounting firms, unless the engagement is in an extremely obscure field (emphasizing extremely), technical expertise is secondary to who the people are who possess that expertise. Your accounting firm will be working shoulder-to-shoulder with the client. They want to get to know more about who you are, and if there is a human fit and a human connection. Therefore, in negotiating for a new engagement, be sure to include your differentiator – what makes you and your accounting firm unique. The technical stuff will come soon enough, but in those initial meetings remember that the potential client is wondering: “Can I work with these people, maybe for years down the road? Do they share my values?”
2. Research the Client – Far too many accounting negotiations, especially those that take place when a potential engagement is in play, start with the accounting firm spending an inordinate amount of time on themselves. In fact, far too many negotiations skills for accountants offer a rather predictable boiler-plate pitch that essentially says, “Look at me, look at me.” This often prompts someone from the organization to eventually ask, “What do you know about us?” They shouldn’t have to ask that question. In any accounting negotiation, it is essential to know as much as possible about the potential client and their industry. It is not to say that they expect a dissertation, but to respect the fact that you have done your homework. It shows that your accounting organization cares and respects them enough to have spent the time and effort to learn something about them.
3. Bring the Right People – I want to emphasize another subjective accounting negotiating skill. Before you present to a new client or conduct a review with an existing client, strongly consider who will be coming to the meeting. This may seem inconsequential at first, but it is important to create long-lasting bonds that hopefully lead to trust and expanded engagement. In one case, I recall one of the partners discovered that one of her people went to a small college on the Eastern Shore of Maryland – exactly the same college as the principal of the firm they were meeting. While that was not the deciding factor in getting the engagement, when it came up in conversation, the usual tension level and “jitters” noticeably lessened. It created a certain amount of comfort and camaraderie.
Despite the fact that developing negotiation skills for accountant and the accounting industry is often viewed from afar as being an objective, numbers driven and highly analytical enterprise, to lose that human factor is often to lose the engagement. It is a good thing to be human!
Mike does much more than present one-of-a-kind keynote speeches – he provides fun and fact filled breakout sessions as well as dynamic training programs for numerous organizations like PwC, AON,Deloitte, Marriott, Disney, Harley-Davidson and even the IRS.
Contact Mike Hourigan who speaks on Negotiation Skills for accountants and the Accounting Industry for your next meeting, breakout or convention by calling: (704) 875-3030 or by filling out the form below.