What sets the best performing firms apart from the competition?

Jennifer Warawa has some ideas.

As vice president of partner programs and channel sales at Sage, Warawa has the research and insights on hand to know how the best firms become the best.

The short answer: They challenge (a) the status quo, and (b) how they think.

About everything.

In a quick-hitting session at the AICPA’s annual Practitioners’ Symposium and Tech+ Conference in Las Vegas, Warawa offered up a checklist of attributes that make high-performing firms successful. Here are some of my favorites. Read through them, and after each one, ask yourself: Can you say that about your firm?

  1. They price for the value they deliver, not by the hour. And they don’t undercharge.
     
  2. They interact with clients on a frequent, ongoing basis.
     
  3. They “surprise and delight” clients, going “above and beyond when it’s least expected.”
     
  4. They get the “brilliant basics” right — things like being friendly and responding promptly.
     
  5. They evaluate clients regularly and fire the bad ones.
     
  6. They know how to market themselves.
     
  7. They network, and they have a plan for doing so.
     
  8. They have their pitch mastered. And remember this: “Your pitch isn’t about what you do,” Warawa said. “It’s about the value you provide.”
     
  9. They have a strong online / social media presence.
     
  10. They ask happy clients for referrals.

And perhaps most important, they never stop learning. In a changing and complex world, it’s the most important thing any of us can do.

Warawa made one more point that really struck home for me: “People do business with a culture,” she said.

That’s so true. People pay you for your passion, not your product. Or as Simon Sinek would say: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Figure out your “why.” Find your passion, then serve others with that passion as your foundation.

If you do that, something tells me you can’t go wrong.

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