Stop Avoiding Using The Words Sales and Accountant Together!
Why do so many people in the accounting industry lose their minds when the word selling or sales and accountant enter the conversation together??
Let me share a quick story to give you some background. I was recently on a call with accounting influencers worldwide, where I was the newbie and asked to introduce myself. I usually give my typical, short intro explaining my background and how I now help accountants with soft-skill development, specifically integrating sales principles to increase growth. I’m used to being met with some questions or skepticism. However, on this particular call, one individual I have always respected as a well-known consultant instantly criticized me for teaching sales, insinuating that it was a dirty way to do business. I was completely taken aback!
After getting over the initial shock of the comments made, I quickly realized that there is more misinformation about sales out there than I ever realized. When I started The Sales Seed, I knew that there would be plenty of cynicism since we have been told that accountants aren’t salespeople or sales and accountants do go together for as long as I can remember. Funny enough, I actually partially went into accounting because I was terrified of selling, and this seemed like the one job where I would be safe, but boy was I wrong.
I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for the amount of push-back and opinions I’ve received over the past year while talking to accountants and accounting influencers about sales. It has made me realize that there are so many misunderstandings about what selling is, what makes someone good at it, and why it is so important to learn, understand and master as an accountant. So much so that I’ve made it my life’s mission to remove the evil stigma from combing sales and accountants and make it an essential and non-threatening topic for all accountants.
So, what are some of the biggest misconceptions about selling, specifically when it comes to accountants? Let’s start with some of the most basic.
Salespeople are sleazy, manipulative, and untrustworthy.
Be honest, when you hear “sales,” what is your initial reaction? So many people shudder when they hear that they need to sell like they just listened to those nails on the chalkboard noise or feel icky and gross. Most accountants immediately think about the used car salesman persona of a salesperson because that is what we have been led to believe sales is for so long.
Sure, there is a bad apple in every bunch, but for the most part, sales is a well-respected industry with ethical and driven individuals. We have just been conditioned to think of sales in a negative light. However, I challenge you to think back to different situations in your life and all of the “salespeople” you have come in contact with, including bankers, realtors, grocery store clerks, and recent waiter or waitress. What were your general impressions of these people? Surely, your first reaction wasn’t that they were sleazy, untrustworthy, or trying to manipulate you. If you did feel that way, you likely searched around to find another option that felt more trustworthy.
This is no different than you selling your services as an accountant. Think about it, there are bad accountants out there, but that doesn’t mean you are a manipulative and untrustworthy accountant. Salespeople aren’t all bad either, and you don’t have to be afraid of selling because of this reputation.
Selling means that you are making someone buy something they don’t need.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “He could sell ice to an Eskimo!” Some people sell things that people don’t need, like ice to an Eskimo, or I’ve even seen where someone was selling bottled air. These outlying examples are more examples of how we have been conditioned to think negatively about selling.
However, if you look at the definition of selling, it simply states that selling is the transfer of money in exchange for goods and services. It doesn’t say that it’s the transfer of money in exchange for goods or services that you don’t need. You went into this industry to provide a service to individuals and businesses that need these services. Whether you like it or not, you have to sell those services to make money.
Selling doesn’t require intelligence.
Sometimes I think this is one of the biggest unspoken roadblocks to embrace the combination of sales and accountant. I still remember being told in college that sales was the career people went into when they didn’t have any other talent. Now, I can see just how ignorant this statement was, but I’m sure I’m not the only person that has heard it either. A large number of accountants think sales is a lesser job and look down on salespeople.
Having been on both sides, accounting and sales, I can honestly say both careers take unique talents and an incredible amount of intelligence. While accountants tend to have the analytical brain, the best salespeople are ones that have a high EQ and can understand an individual’s motivation to solve problems best and provide the right solution. You can’t tell me that doesn’t require intelligence?!
The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if you try to masquerade selling as business development or networking in accounting firms to make it seem less evil. If you want to build or grow a practice, you have to exchange money for your services. That, by the very definition, is selling.
Once you can get over the hurdle that sales the combination of sales and accountant in practice and realize that you are helping others by providing a service they need, growing and selling become a natural and organic part of your business. Second, when you embrace sales and understand that a sales framework is used by every other business globally, you will realize that these tools can help you become more efficient and effective in running your practice. Think about it; you wouldn’t complete an engagement for your client without a checklist or guide, so why are you flying blind when it comes to sales and growing your practice?
Our discussion on why you can’t hate sales if you are an accountant isn’t over yet, but this is enough for one post. We’ll continue the topic in the coming weeks with some tips and tricks, but in the meantime, I want to leave you with some suggested reading on this topic. I’m an avid reader and a lifelong learner, so you will see more suggestions like these coming with blog posts in the future. I hope you enjoy them!
The Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales Resource, by Jeffrey Gitomer
This book is excellent for beginners because it explores the basics of sales and provides tips that help you understand how to start conversations, develop relationships, and convert prospects into customers. This was one of the first sales books gifted to me when I changed careers and was the perfect introduction to sales for a novice.
Find the book here: The Sales Bible on Amazon
To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, by Daniel H. Pink
For those that are intimidated by the term sales, this is an excellent starting place. In this book, the author explores the correlation between persuasion and selling as it appears in your daily life in something as simple as convincing your child to do homework to help you remove the negative stigma of selling. Now, my kids do all of their homework and chores without putting up a fight. Ha – totally kidding, but it was really eye-opening how much we use persuasion day-to-day and tips that go beyond professional selling.
Find the book here: To Sell is Human on Amazon
Sales EQ, by Jeb Blount
If you are ready to go a little deeper into the topic of sales, this is the book for you. It is written for those that are in the sales industry. Still, it provided me great insight into behaviors and techniques to increase my own emotional intelligence and was a fascinating read.
Find the book here: Sales EQ on Amazon
You can also download our whitepaper on why Sales Shouldn’t Be Scary here: https://thesalesseed.com/product/sales-shouldnt-be-scary-whitepaper/
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