Meeting a new potential accounting client can often make you feel on edge, but that's just human nature, to be apprehensive upon meeting someone new, especially when so much is on the line. And there is a lot to remember – from facts and figures to posture to mannerisms – all while trying to learn/share as much information as you can in a relatively short amount of time.
To help you ace your next new accounting client interview, here are some tips on how to ensure the best possible results consistently and reliably:
You are there to sell your services and in essence, yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else? But, here is the thing – even if you do not feel 100% confident you can still pretend that you are. (There is a saying “fake it ‘til you make it”). Live that phrase if you need to. Being confident in yourself affects your mannerisms, your tone and speech and your posture!
Dress for Success
Dress carefully and thoughtfully, however, not so much so that you could be going to a wedding or funeral. It is unnecessary to wear a full suit or full blouse and skirt to this interview. You want to be comfortable yet professional. You also don’t want to overdo it on the make-up or jewelry as it is just tacky and distracting. A caveat to this is if you know the client will be wearing a full suit – as there are still some companies that require it. If this is the case, then by all means, wear the suit or blouse and skirt.
Research the client in advance of the interview. What type of company does the client own/work for? What do they do/make/sell… etc.? What are some of the jargon words that you could learn/re-learn that you could slip into the conversation to show them you know their particular field? What are some things that other bookkeepers have said about working with that particular type of client? What are some of the pitfalls that other clients in the same field typically run across? The more information you have going into the meeting, the more you can share with them.
In a new accounting client interview you want to be focused on the client at all times. If you are answering a question and keep looking away, it can be assumed that you don’t know what you are talking about and having to really think about your answers. While thinking about answers isn’t a bad thing, they want to see your answer as well as hear your answer. A client gets a lot of information from you when you speak – from your confidence, to your interest level, to your honesty. Its hard to look someone in the eyes and lie – so don’t look away when you talking with them.
Know your Next Steps
Near the end of the interview with a potential client, do not walk-out without a plan of action. Always have action-steps about what you are going to do after the meeting and then follow through with them. Such things as obtaining the client's QuickBooks file and login information, the promise of reviewing and generating a proposal for them, as well as setting up my follow-up meeting. This allows you to review exactly what is going on with the file, which will help determine if they need a lot of catch-up work, and how much time it will take you on a weekly/monthly basis. Once you have that information you can make an informed decision and submit the proposal to review with the potential client.
Believe in yourself and know that you are the best option for the client – and then set out to prove it. Just remember that there is a difference between confidence and cockiness and you do NOT want to confuse the two.
Summing it all up – Be Yourself. Don’t try to be fake or somebody that you are not. Most people will see right through that charade and it will not go over very well. You are there because they wanted you there. Show them your knowledge, using their own jargon, with confidence and poise and then follow-up with a stellar proposal they can’t turn down.