Freelance writer Cherine Hlady interviews one of Intuit’s top business development managers on how he coaches his clients into trusted advisors to their clients.

Jeremy Burke has one bookkeeping client, but right now that’s all he needs.

Most of Jeremy’s time is spent as a Business Development Manager for Intuit in Alberta, where he and his team of seven are responsible for managing all the accountant/bookkeeper relationships in the province. There are 200,000 small businesses in Canada using QBO, and Alberta has the highest adoption rate when adjusted for population: there are more than 29,000 currently subscribed users.

You need to understand your client’s specific pain point and how you can alleviate that pain.
Jeremey Burke, Business Development Manager, Intuit

Jeremy sees himself as a disruptive influence in the accounting space – empowering people to get on board and experience first-hand the benefits new technology, specifically cloud-based technology, can offer.

“I do the books for one small business and they are my testing ground for new technology. My work with them helps me straddle two worlds: the client, and the software and apps I promote and influence through my client channels.

Technology has helped the accountant and bookkeeper do the job faster than ever before: what used to take four days might now take four hours.  “But,” warns Jeremy, “if all you are doing is charging for time then it becomes a race to the bottom – who can do the job fastest and cheapest. You need to really rack up the volume of clients in turn to keep revenue sustainable.”

Jeremy advocates instead for value-based pricing, which is not about charging by time, but charging by job done and value provided.

QBO can produce information but doesn’t actually explain to the small business owner what that information means.
Jeremy Burke, Business Development Manager, Intuit  

“You need to understand what the specific pain points for your client are and how you can alleviate that pain through your work for them. Clients will pay a premium for this.” Pain points might include a client who is months behind in paying their taxes because their books aren’t up-to-date or the need to produce the financial report or analysis that was due yesterday.

Understanding a client’s pain points takes a lot of time, patience and up-front work: “You need to have the proper conversation. Get a sense of your client’s bigger picture, their dream, and then, in turn, what obstacles are in the way and preventing the realization of that dream. Then show them the tool or tools to get there. You wouldn’t sell a house by talking about the hammer that built it, would you?”

That’s how he hooks his users on QBO, not by selling the tool, but by selling the bigger vision and how QBO can assist in its fulfilment. Jeremy has been using, promoting and training users on QBO for eight years, but does admit to one limitation: Navigating and customizing the abundance of reports can be hard to pull and interpret for the non-finance types. “QBO can produce information but doesn’t actually explain to the small business owner what that information means.”

That’s where apps that integrate with QBO come in. With, for example, users can query their data using their own words, and the app can display the results in pie chart, bar graph, or other pictoral representation: “It’s much easier to understand reporting that way than in an Excel spreadsheet.”

Jeremy says he is trying out new apps, like all the time. That’s why he keeps – and needs – that one client.

Cherine Hlady

Author Cherine Hlady

Cherine Hlady is a freelance writer, editor and communications strategist. She develops and edits content – across a variety of print and digital mediums – for clients primarily in the high tech, government and not-for-profit sectors. She lives in Calgary, Alberta with her husband and two young children.

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