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How to Avoid Being Irrelevant

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A recent beBetter blog, Price is Rarely the Issue, generated some interesting comments and thoughts. One that really caught my attention was from a HORNE team member in Tennessee, David Friedt. David shared a humorous story about how a car salesman was attempting to make a car distinctive with some of the features.  

“I was really interested in buying the car and the salesman kept focusing on so many of the standard features common in all cars. When he got to the incredible tire pressure monitoring systems and innovative dual airbags, I was at my breaking point. I had to share with him that those features are government-mandated and consequently are not good selling points for the model car he was trying to sell me.”  

David’s experience reminds me of when an audit prospect shared that after sitting through five audit proposal presentations by five different firms, the audit committee could not distinguish between the firms. He said, “Actually, they all could have swapped slide decks and given the same presentations. In the end, all we had to go on was price.” 

The insights from David and the audit prospect demonstrate that when we look, sound and feel like everyone else, we are invisible. When we message what is required versus the impact we can have, we lose and our clients lose.  

Understanding your value, communicating your impact and demonstrating your distinctiveness are all difficult, but they separate the great professional service firms from the good ones. It’s difficult because it takes time. Understanding your impact requires insights and analysis, and clear and effective communications always seem to be hard to refine.   

Why does this separate good from great?  

It’s simple, really. It takes uncommon discipline to do the hard things. You have to care about your client, understand their business and anticipate their opportunities and challenges. Some practical ideas include: 

  • Spending time with our clients to understand their pain points and concerns
  • Asking relevant questions to gain insights
  • Providing hard trends for collaboration on opportunities and challenges
  • Leading “What’s Possible” conversations on dashboards for key operating data and discovering other available data with value that can be converted into insights for management action 

We can be distinctive with our services when we put the client experience as our focus.  

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