How To Avoid Divorcing Your Business Partner

Anthony J Cullen
September 9, 2018
The highest level at an Accounting firm, the Partner level, where the majority of invaluable experience and industry knowledge is kept safely locked away. There may be multiple Partners fortunate enough to have a seat at this table, depending on the firm size, who are responsible for high level business development and constantly improving their firm. but in many cases each Partner may not see eye to eye.

At the apex of every Accounting firm lies the firm Partners.

Partners are responsible for producing a sophisticated business development strategy which consistently drives firm revenue. But ROI isn’t the only goal. Firm Partners must also ensure that the efforts of all staff – including those of other Partners – are optimized, respected and justly rewarded.

Depending on firm size, there may be multiple Partners with varying skill sets; each distinctly contributing to the overall firm strategy as well as the nuts and bolts of the sales process. Commonly, a Partnership contains one or more 'Social Partners’ who network and cultivate warm leads with the aim of converting those leads into sales. ‘Social Partners’ are often pared with ‘Technical Partners,’ who maintain a robust understanding of the technicalities involved in day-to-day Accounting, and whose goal is to ensure a consistent standard of excellence with each client deliverable.

For the most part, this relationship tends to work out. But when it goes wrong, it can actually tear a company apart!

I've seen Partnerships disintegrate when the Social Partner, whose role is to spearhead business development and sales & marketing, is so desperate for small wins (and the resultant ego boost) that he or she says ‘yes’ to anything. Consequently, the Technical Partner grows increasingly frustrated by the sub-par standard of work coming through the door.

A fundamental problem with being top-line focused (solely on driving revenue) is that sometimes such a mindset can be counterproductive, as top-line performance doesn’t always equate to bottom-line results (especially when you take into account hours worked). With enough effort, anyone can bring in low quality sales. But more often than not, it's best to turn down this type of work if only to avoid the pain and resentment generated within the organization as staff grows overworked for little pay.

I’ve witnessed staff rebellions, where technical experts suddenly adopt the attitude that “if you (the Social Partner) are attracting such low-level work and bringing in crappy clients, which requires hours of grunt work and clean up on our parts, then you should be doing the work yourself!”

This type of contentious relationship is not conducive to productivity and firm growth.

Inevitably, it ends up leading to a Partner dispute and quite often a full-on divorce.

The root problem here is the fundamental inability to attract and win the highest quality clients in your market. The goal for every Social Partner should be to maximize bottom-line earnings in a manner that allows Technical Partners to exert a minimal amount of effort, or hours worked. Attracting premium clientele is the clearest path to achieving that goal. To become a business development marksman, every new client you bring into your Accounting practice should be an ideal fit and bring a smile to your colleagues’ faces, not a sigh.

Expert Sales & Marketing training is vital to helping you realize this level of professionalism, particularly at the Partner level.

If you’re interested in learning more about how best to establish and grow your own client attraction system that reels in the highest quality clients while on autopilot, then check out this video case study.

And feel free to give us a call to see how we can help.

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