I attended the QuickBooks Connect conference in San Jose earlier this month, and have taken some time to consider my key takeaways. Since conferences always have so much to offer between the main stage presenters, the breakout sessions and the vendor booths, it’s difficult to digest all the material and decide what to do first when we get back home. To prevent overwhelm and potential inaction, I’ve heard conference presenters recommend taking action on just one to three main takeaways.
Main stage presenter Michael McQueen discussed future trends and how to gear up for change. One of his key points was not falling into the trap of habitual thinking or staying on auto-pilot in your business.
My main takeaway: When speaking with a potential new client, take advantage of your “fresh eyes” to see things they no longer see. Favorite session quote: Ask your clients “Why do you do it that way?” or even better, “Why do you do that at all?”
In the session titled, “Negotiating Your Price” presenter Debbie Kilsheimer (@debbiekilz) covered the importance of having a goal, active listening, the power of No, and loss aversion. Debbie says potential clients are reaching out to you because they are in crisis, often emotional crisis. When negotiating, appeal to their emotional brain, instead of their rational brain.
My main takeaway: Tell clients what you will deliver, not what you will do. For example, instead of speaking to the rational brain and saying, “I will enter all your transactions, reconcile your bank statements, and send you monthly financials” appeal to their emotional brain, by saying “After my work is completed you will have accurate, up-to-date books you can trust so you can apply for that loan/reply to the government notice/etc.” Favorite session quote: You never get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate.” -Chester Karras
Geni Whitehouse presented a session titled, “Evaluating the Health of Your Client’s Business” where she emphasized that instead of throwing reports at our clients, can we ask them “what does a healthy business mean to you?” and help them toward that goal. We look at their books from three perspectives: the business owner, the banker, or the bookkeeper/accountant, and we can use formulas and tools to speak each perspective’s language.
My main takeaway: Take advantage of benchmarking and other tools to provide insight and perspective to our clients. Favorite session quote: “We are not the transaction history people - we should be the “future” people.”
In his session “5 Key Skills to Advisory Services” Michael Ly talked about going beyond transaction processing and using KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to help our clients. In addition to data gathering and data analysis, we need to ask great questions, listen to the answers, and offer clear and concise communications.
My main takeaway: Even if we don’t offer advisory services, we can still better serve our clients by listening to them, which means if you are working remotely, you still need to be in conversation with your clients. Favorite session quote: “When you talk you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” – Dalai Lama
In a session called, “What’s Your Number: Scoring Your Firm’s Health” new-to-QuickBooks-Connect presenter John Marshall of Results Driven presented a tool he’s developed for firm owners or managers to assess themselves on their Vision, Strategy, Growth, Process, People and Customers. Questions are posed in each category and you assign yourself points on a scale of 1-5. There are no good or bad scores, instead the final total score gives you a picture of where you might need to improve internally.
My main takeaway: It’s always a good time to review your vision and your strategy. Favorite session quote: “Most small businesses focus on the future, not what they are doing right now.”
To avoid getting overwhelmed when you get home from a conference, set aside some time to review your notes and re-read the conference slides, and then pick one to three takeaways that you can work on in the next six months. That way, when you attend next year’s conference, you won’t feel like you did not implement any of your good intentions from last year’s conference.
Jody Linick is an AIPB Certified Bookkeeper, a QuickBooks® Certified Pro Advisor, and a member of the Intuit Trainer/Writer network. Her company, FitBooks Pro (formerly called Linick Consulting), specializes in remote bookkeeping services for professional services firms using QuickBooks Online. You can find her series of Blog posts here.
Jody Linick, an AIPB Certified Bookkeeper, QuickBooks Certified Pro Advisor and member of the Intuit Trainer/Write Network, heads up FitBooksPro which specializes in helping professional services providers set business goals, and using the tools available in QuickBooks Online, to manage...