Center >> October 2009
Accountants Know: It’s a People Business
The best CPA channel marketers know it, too
by Rick Telberg/For the CPA Channel Marketer
AICPA Custom Media Solutions
With busy season approaching, accountants and accounting
firms are naturally looking closely at how best to manage their
most important asset — their people.
CPA channel marketers don’t need to look far
to get some insight on the profession’s seriousness in the
matter of human resources. The AICPA, for instance, dedicates an
entire section of its Web site to Career Development and Workplace
Issues and the Institute’s marketing and distribution subsidiary,
CPA2Biz Inc., features a high traffic Career Center. The AICPA Journal
of Accountancy is planning a Special Focus Report for the December
issue on “CPA Career Trends.”
here if you’d like to learn more about the CPA
Career Trends Special Focus Report.
People issues are always a central topic of conversation
when accountants get together. I recently facilitated a meeting
among partners of a major firm. Among the array of pressing issues
they could have discussed — new business development, client
retention, the economy or profitability, to name just a few —
they spent the bulk of the time discussing partner-to-partner relationships.
Many accountants have known their practice partners longer than
their spouses and the issues can be just as complex and sensitive.
Some firms understand that their clients, too, are
struggling with people issues. Regional firm Cherry Bekaert &
Holland recently advised its small business clients that “keeping
spirits high is increasingly more important, and the best way seems
to be face-to-face.” CB&H recommended increasing morale
“through a culture of appreciation.”
The CPA firm quoted from a report that showed managers
may rank promotions and cash bonuses as the two most effective ways
of recognizing employee accomplishments. But workers said they preferred
an in-person thank-you or having a job well done reported to senior
management. “In other words,” said the report, “employers
often underestimate the degree to which workers value kind words
delivered face to face.”
The lesson for CPA channel marketers is this: Take
a moment to understand the people factor in the accounting profession
and how to apply it to your sales strategy. Accountants believe
firmly in integrity, objectivity and competence. And the products
and services that help them to live out those character traits will
appeal to their sense of self. At the same time, every accountant
knows time is money. So anything a vendor can do to save either
will get their attention.
In the end, accountants are a tough, judgmental
market to sell into. They apply rigorous standards to their buying
decisions. But once made, they remain loyal customers for life.
It’s a lesson the most successful CPA channel marketers already
for CPA Channel Marketers by Rick Telberg:
is president of Bay
Street Group LLC, which provides research and marketing and
communications services to CPA firms and the vendors who serve them.
He is the founding editor of the Insider newsletters and serves
as AICPA Editor at Large and Director of Online Content. In his
two decades in media and marketing for the finance, tax and accounting
industries, Telberg has played pivotal roles in the development
and operation of the leading media and e-commerce outlets in the
business, including Accounting Today, The Practical Accountant,
Accounting Technology, WebCPA.com, SmartPros.com, and CPA2Biz.com.
Contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (914) 674-4531. He blogs at cpatrendlines.com.
Trendlines on Twitter.