That Lands New Clients
We have a large body of knowledge that teaches us how to do the work, but few resources that teach us how to get the work. And even as we acquire the technical skills that enable us to perform better valuations, we need to position ourselves with buyers of our valuation services so that we can land new clients and apply those skills. How (and where) do we learn that? In this article, the author discusses his views on this subject matter.
We have a large body of knowledge that teaches us how to do the work, but few resources that teach us how to get the work.Â And even as we acquire the technical skills that enable us to perform better valuations, we need to position ourselves with buyers of our valuation services so that we can land new clients and apply those skills.Â How (and where) do we learn that?
CPE is never a cost; itâ€™s an investment.Â Think about it.Â Your CPE produces assetsâ€”either intellectual property (technical valuation ability) or research and development (practice building skills).
But I suspect many of you are out of balanceâ€”too much technical valuation ability and too little marketing and positioning skills.Â Want proof? Â Look at your last recertification reporting.Â How many CPE hours did you invest in practice building skills? Â The reason I know that itâ€™s not many is because there are few people in our industry willing or wanting to teach these subjects.
Today, our marketplace is more competitive, our clients more empowered, and our value less obvious.Â Weâ€™re undifferentiated.Â The resulting commoditization of our work has us competing with do-it-yourself websites that offer cheap valuation solutions, giving our prospects, clients, and referral sources the impression that this is all we have to offer.
More technical skills wonâ€™t cure this.
When I started doing valuations in the 80s and 90s, I was taught that business valuation was more of an art than science.Â You were probably taught the same thing.Â Today, the consensus is that valuation is a craft.
At the same time, there is a growing acceptance that marketing is more of a science than an art.Â For example, research conducted by Duke Universityâ€™s Dan Ariely has unlocked amazing insights on how human beings make (seemingly) irrational choices, including buying decisionsâ€”insights that have major implications for selling things like business valuation and forensic litigation services.
We all know of (seemingly) less qualified people who win work, sometimes beating us out.Â Why is that? Â Maybe itâ€™s because they have learned how our audience of prospects, clients, and referral sources seek authority, develop trust, and make buying decisions.Â Donâ€™t you want to learn that?
In college, most of us took accounting, finance, and economics classes because thatâ€™s what we needed to start on the path of becoming technically proficient in our careers.Â Who took marketing or psychology classes beyond the (required) introductory level?
Behavioral science.Â Buyer psychology.Â Pricing theory.Â Marketing technology.Â These are the new subjects we need to master if we are to build successful valuation practices in todayâ€™s digitally connected economy.Â You want to learn that.
Iâ€™m not saying we should ignore technical valuation skills.Â Start with that, learn your craft, but also invest more in practice building skills.Â Because really, how many cost of capital and pass through entity updates can you possibly attend in one recertification cycle?
Also, specialization can help.Â Instead of trying to keep up with everything thatâ€™s going on in all the areas you practice in, you can better invest time/money in targeted technical training for your niche and have time/money left over for business development learning.
Because, at the end of the day, religiously reading every issue of the most popular industry newsletters and journals, or becoming familiar with yet another DLOM model, will not help you land new clients.
Seth Godinâ€™s blogâ€”The one blog that I recommend all practitioners should read every day
Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)â€”by William Poundstone
To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Othersâ€”by Daniel Pink
What do you think? Â E-mail me at email@example.com and let me know.
Rod Burkert, CPA, ABV, CVA runs things over at Burkert Valuation Advisors, LLC. Heâ€™s reinvented his practice several times after going solo in July 2000. Today, Mr. Burkertâ€™s practice offers coaching, training, and consulting to colleagues and clients in the BVFLS world. And since March 2010, heâ€™s been traveling full time throughout the United States and Canada in an RV with his wife and their two dogs.
Mr. Burkert can be reached at (215) 360-6100 or by e-mail to Rod@RodBurkert.com.