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The $750,000 Accountability Story

The accountability system that I helped Keith put into place resulted in $750,000 in absolutely new client business. Let’s take a look at how this happened.

Keith was in his mid-50s, and was a managing partner in a large CPA firm. He’d gotten to that level because he was very good at business development — specifically, bringing in brand new clients.

His partner group, on the other hand, were mainly in their 40s. They were all highly competent in their technical abilities, but not very good at bringing in new business. Up until then, they hadn’t needed to concern themselves with that — it was raining clients.

And they also saw plenty of growth just from adding on new services to existing client accounts.

All of that changed with the economic landscape in 2008 when the firm began losing clients. And that’s when Keith hired me.

Keith had the skills – they were natural to him. He just couldn’t figure out how to transfer those skills to the people around him and get his people to go to market (when they’ve never had to) and bring in new business.

“Alan’s unique style helped me shift from telling my people what to do (and sometimes how to do it — to showing them how to do it — and that made all the difference.”

The first thing Keith had to understand to become a more accountable leader was that just because something came easily to him, doesn’t mean it came easily to others.

They’re not you,” I often reminded him in our early sessions.

Instead, Keith needed to apply all the components of my accountability system – recapping, meeting his people on a regular basis, asking open-ended questions, developing his people, etc.

Instead of riding the bike for them by micro-managing, managing all the new client meetings himself and exhausting his own network and database to make introductions, he began to use my three core skills of leveraging, collaborating and strategizing.

“With Alan’s Accountability System I was finally able to draw respectful and caring boundaries with my people and let them know ‘I’m not going to make decisions for you. I’m going to coach you to make your own decisions.’ When that happened, everything turned around.”

Leverage: When people told him excuses about how their databases weren’t big enough to bring in any new business, Keith showed them how to mine the gold from even the smallest database. For example, an old college fraternity chum whose brother-in-law happened to be the CFO at one of the firm’s target companies.

Collaboration: As I worked with Keith to show him these strategies, I was also modeling a collaborative approach to putting our heads together to come up with solutions. Keith learned that there was a lot of middle ground between doing everything himself and trying to get people to carry out tasks they weren’t yet equipped to handle.

Strategy: As I taught Keith the accountability system and he started putting it into place, he and his people discovered that those same practices can apply to meetings with new prospective clients. For example, they started slowing down the process and preparing a strategy long before they actually got in front of the potential new client. That way, they weren’t just reacting in the moment and then catching up to the conversation (an approach that certainly hadn’t been working).

Keith wanted to create a legacy at his firm, and his own talent for bringing in new business had brought him a lot of success and the title of managing partner. As a leader, though, I helped Keith see that the real legacy he was creating was empowering his people to land their own new business successes.

“What Alan did for me and my team was amazing. I can attribute at least $750,000 in new business to his Accountability System.”