I recently read a story entitled What I Learned at the Flower Shop1 where the author learned that there was more then loving Granny’s flowers to working in the flower shop. She wasn’t prepared for cleaning muddy pots, having dirty fingernails, and most of all; people’s stories.
One flower shop customer sent three flowers to three strangers every Tuesday. Another customer was sending a Thanksgiving bouquet to a recent host and yet admitted to stealing the host’s silverware. Flowers were sent to say, “Sorry, I’m an idiot.” Or, to express sympathy for someone’s passing even when the sender didn’t know the deceased. Or, sometimes for no apparent reason.
Even though the reasons often didn’t make sense, the author discovered how important it is to appreciate people’s stories. The stories she heard involved love, trouble, excitement, devastation, and even drunkenness. The importance lies in the connection made with the customers who returned over and over again.
There’s a lesson here for everyone in business. Listening to people stories creates a connection that is stronger than best price or best service. When I hear a practitioner say they don’t want to hear the troubled taxpayer’s sad saga, I know their closing rate of new cases is probably in the dumps and they don’t know why.
As practitioners, if we expect a high rate of engagement and a willingness to refer us, we must create a relationship with clients. Clients want you to know how they ended up with a tax problem. If you don’t give him a chance to tell you, they will assume you’re not sympathetic to their problem and that you judge them negatively.
If your closing ratio isn’t where you want it and you’re not getting referrals, consider how well you’re listening to prospective clients. There’s an old adage that says, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
1Alisha Gorder, NY Times
By: Lawrence Lawler, CPA, EA, CTRS