Allan Boress, CPA, CFE
Allan Boress & Associates
The job is incomplete without ongoing sales and marketing efforts!
The deficit that Allan Boress saw in his own skill set — early in his career as a CPA — so motivated him to enhance his abilities, that he now teaches others the same principles of good business.
A practicing CPA and CFE, Boress has provided expert counsel to some 500 medium- to large-sized firms since becoming a business development consultant in 1980. He has trained over 200,000 professionals in the art of systematic selling, personal marketing and client retention.
His was a different story 20 years ago. Boress felt he was inadequate in the ability to sell and market his services as the owner of a new practice. The challenge seemed overwhelming to him, an economics graduate from Northern Illinois University, and yet he figured out early on that his success demanded acquiring new skills in order to succeed.
In the beginning, Boress read everything he could about sales and marketing. That meant veering outside the accounting industry since he found few authorities on the subject there.
"It was really an obvious choice," says Boress, now a nationally known speaker, trainer and practice development expert. "When you start your own practice, you have no clients and if you don't have a book of business, you've got to do something."
Today, Boress has parlayed that foundation of knowledge applied to the accounting profession to be a leader in the business development field. He has authored several books, articles and a study-series on the topic, and is a regular consultant for firms of all sizes around the world. "I wanted to do more in life than make money,” says Boress of Coral Springs, FL. I wanted to remove the pain and suffering in accounting firms so they could build successful practices."
To Boress, surviving as a CPA is easy, since strong relationships are naturally built with clients, along with the fact that the government requires a level of financial reporting met by CPA services. But survival and success are not the same. He noticed that when people with these financial services skills wanted to reach beyond their own accounting knowledge to increase the vitality of the business, the path seemed uncertain. And yet, he was learning proven methods that could help.
"I wanted to change this profession," he says.
Retooling for the job
Initially, Boress noticed that CPAs are the type of people who are analytical and often introverted, and such traits are adverse to good marketing. Second, he viewed the services rendered as "annuitized" or permanent and expected, rather of transactional. That causes accountants to rest on their laurels instead of prioritizing customer service and thus ensuring customer retention year after year.
Boress studied the marketing and sales techniques of physicians, among others, upon the advice of a fraternity brother. He came to realize that a doctor's practice is much like an accountant's in that they are both dispensing advice and services amid trusted relationships.
He still shares those lessons in the seminars and study courses he offers to accountants -- and numerous other professions -- today.
"Doctors and CPAs alike can diagnose, qualify and prescribe," he repeats like a motto. "Those who take marketing and selling seriously have the most unlimited potential in business."
Boress wrote a book to fill the void that business professionals might experience just as he did originally. I Hate Selling (AMACOM Publishing, 1995), now available on audiotapes, teaches professional service providers how to interview, qualify, present and close more sales opportunities.
He followed that work with the book Building Entrepreneurial People, (Harcourt Brace, 1995), which describes how a professional firm can change its culture for greater success.
His seasoned insights into building client relationships and his talent for audience interaction have earned him four consecutive annual Instructor Excellence Awards from the ICPA Foundation, a distinction awarded only to the top five of over two hundred instructors. Boress is also a regular contributor to trade magazines and newsletters.
Tough Love of the Business
Developing business with savvy sales and marketing approaches in mind is necessary due to several trends Boress sees in the accounting industry.
One, he believes the profession must do a better job attracting people since it now takes the same number of years to be a CPA as it does to receive an MBA. The profession will be taken over by paraprofessionals who need even more training than owners of firms may realize.
Second, the consultant who is frequently in demand by Big 5 firms believes other CPA firms are less attractive for buy-out and mergers after a flurry of activity that has since slowed. That means firms should marshal their own strengths and forge new initiatives in sales and marketing to assure their own future.
With his insider's view of the profession and his extensive credentials, Boress provides the accounting profession unique and in-depth knowledge on practical sales and marketing techniques.
Boress welcomes your questions and comments at [email protected].