Nearly every time I ask the question ‘what matters most to clients?’ – technical work, the speed with which the work's done or the relationship work – and whether I'm with an individual accountant, a leadership team within an accountancy firm or presenting to an audience of accountants, the answer that almost always comes back is that it's the relationship work that is most valued by the clients.
In a profession that leans more towards introversion than extroversion, it makes sense to dive into what it is that accountants could and should do to build stronger relationships with their clients.
It was great to have Amanda C. Watts on the podcast to unpack her experiences and to share her understanding as a self-confessed introvert on how and what accountants can do to build stronger relationships through asking better questions and listening more, as well as the deeper, practical skills of making that come to life.
If you can see that relationship-building is a primary source of value for your clients, and that improving the knowledge and skills in that space would pay off for you, your team and your firm, why not join Amanda and me on this podcast.
Please scroll down to the bottom of this page to see Amanda's contact information and to access the additional resources mentioned in the podcast.
With a client, you sometimes think you know all the answers, but actually, the answers are within the client and not within you, because listening is really easy if you just hold the space for someone.
And holding the space is really difficult, especially if you've got your own issues, and that is about trauma. You cannot hold the space for someone easily if you carry baggage around, or if you're ego-led and you want to be the dominant person in the room. It's very difficult to listen.
Being ego-led and dominant does not make you a bad person, if that's who you are, it just means that maybe you need to do a bit of work, so that you can become a better advisor. You might be a great accountant being ego-led and dominant, but not a great advisor because your stuff gets in the way and into the space needed to better listen to the client.
Magic happens in the space.
Imagine when you asked your husband or wife to marry you and you got down on that one knee and said – “Will you marry me?” - The bit between them saying yes or no - that's the magic.
You don't know what they're going to say, you hope that they're going to say yes, but that's the magic bit. And if we overlook the magic, then all we're ever going to do is miss the important information, the reading of the room, the reading of the expression.
It's all about intention and having empathy. Hold the space.
Connect with Amanda
Connect with Paul
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What does Humanise The Numbers mean to you?
Four types of introvert
Research behind introversion
How do you work with accountants?
Find support if you need it
Build listening skills
Asking better questions
Motives for listening
When you're clear it takes away the fear
Getting comfortable with ambiguity
Click the play button below and use the slider on the audio below to get quickly to the chapters in the podcast.
Resources relating to this podcast:
Trust Builds Business
During this podcast, Paul and Amanda talk about the importance of trust when it comes to really listening to your clients and caring about their business. Your client's trust in you will be high when you don't have your own agenda but focus on their needs and work in their best interests, not your own.
To discover the trust equation and the research behind it and why it matters so much when it comes to really helping your clients, click the button below and read the Business Breakthrough report 'Trust Builds Business'.
Ask Better Questions
During this podcast, Paul and Amanda talk about the importance of listening, but they also discuss the importance of questions – asking the right questions, asking better questions and knowing which questions to ask at the right time.
Amanda talks about asking open-ended questions, such as 'How?' and 'What?' and not closed 'Yes/No' questions.
She is also not a fan of starting a conversation with your clients with 'Why?' questions. She acknowledges that there is a time and a place for 'Why?' questions, but not at the beginning of a conversation as they can often lead to defensive answers.
To discover more about the importance of asking better questions and to learn which questions to ask and when to ask them, click the button below and read the Business Breakthrough report 'Ask Better Questions'.
Introverts, Ambiverts and Extroverts
During this podcast, Paul and Amanda talk extensively about introverts and extroverts. Paul refers to some research that states that most of us are actually ambiverts.
There are the extremes, BUT the vast majority of us operate in the middle ground.
To discover more about this from a sales point of view, click the button below to read the Business Breakthrough report 'New Face of Selling'.
Amanda discusses the 4 types of introvert – Social, Anxious, Thinking and Inhibited (Amanda calls this Restrained) – and how understanding who and what type of introvert she is has completely changed the way she works and the way she functions at work.
She mentions Jonathan Cheek's work on the 4 types of introvert. Click the button below to read more about his work.
The 3 C's
Paul and Amanda talk about the 3 C's at several points throughout this podcast and, at the end, it's the biggest takeaway for Amanda from the conversation. When you use these 3 C's during conversations with your clients, you will help them with their numbers, but be more human in your approach.
The 3 C's come from the books of Edgar Schein:
Curiosity – be genuinely interested
Care (or concern) – for their wellbeing and success
Commitment – to interests, feelings and results
There is a Business Breakthrough report on the importance of the 3 C's to all of your client conversations, 'Client Value Counts'.
Click the button below to read this. Also below are links to Edgar Schein’s books. Paul recommends starting with Humble Inquiry.
Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling. Click the image to purchase the book.
Humble Consulting: How to Provide Real Help Faster. Click the image to purchase the book.
Humble Leadership: The Power of Relationships, Openness, and Trust. Click the image to purchase the book.