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I get such a kick out of this when I hear, “Hal, our company or business is different than others due to the (fill in the blank)!”

The next line will make this point real clear. There are no different companies. Either you sell a product, or a service or a combination of both. Business is business, end of story. Start by realizing you are not as unique as you think.

I have worked with hundreds of companies and I have not found a company that is different.

Let’s examine the accounting industry. Bottom line, if you want to make partner in a firm, you have to do one thing fairly well. That is to bring in clients, business or let’s just call it what it really is – sales.

The more business a certified public accountant brings to the firm, the faster he or she will rise the ranks and get noticed by others in the company. Most CPAs do not want to be viewed as salespeople, but it is still a function of selling if you want to bring in new clients.

In that industry, the term they like to use when discussing sales is known as billable hours. At some firms, they will meet and sit around at the end of the month, reviewing how things are going and discuss billable hours for the past 30-day period. I don’t know why they call it a directors meeting or a CPA forum. I simply see it as an end-of-the-month sales meeting to discuss the past month, and then look at what is going to happen over the next month or so.

I forgot to mention the CPAs who bring in more clients make more money than others. I don’t think we should call this a commission, but how about a little something more in their paycheck for doing a really nice job.

In the copier industry, we have a very similar scenario. Now, the copier reps are viewed as salespeople and unfortunately for the good ones, the not so good ones kind of ruin it for the salespeople that take their profession seriously. You won’t believe me when I say this, but I have met some incredible salespeople in this industry that are as good as it gets. If a couple of the salespeople that come to mind left copier sales and were selling jets, they would do just as well working with high level CEOs.

At the end of the month at a company that sells and services copiers or printers, they also have a sales meeting. At the meeting, they discuss copier or printer sales for the past 30 days, whether it is in units sold or total dollars generated. This to me is kind of similar to billable hours since both CPAs or copiers reps must spend time finding the prospect, figuring out their needs, generating a proposal, hopefully making a sale and then keeping them happy after the sale.

The extending happy part comes in the form of great service of their equipment or great service with the staff that is working on tax issues or related services.

When a copier rep does very well, he or she can be promoted to national accounts or become sales manager, maybe even an owner of the company depending on the structure of the organization.

Copiers and CPAs have more in common that they both realize. But please, do me a favor; do not tell either group that is what you and I might find as a commonality. This might get them to disagree with you.


Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

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