After a long career of avoiding networking events and “mandatory” business development training, Arie Williamson, CPA and partner at regional firm Jones, Van Dyke and Billings, in Springfield, died on Monday, after a lengthy battle with sales call reluctance, a condition affecting many CPAs.

At 9:20 a.m. on Monday, Williamson was asked to call a prospective client who had expressed strong interest in the firm’s tax services. The prospect was perfectly aligned with the firm’s targeted niche of plastic pink flamingo distributors, and “pretty much ready to sign on with any CPA who would just call her back” according to the firm’s receptionist, who fielded the inbound request for services.

Around 3:45 p.m., after being gently prodded with a decommissioned corner punch, Williamson took the leap and dialed the prospect. Co-workers reported that when the prospect said, “Hello,” Williamson’s body spontaneously combusted.

Fellow partner Jackie Billings described the stress Williamson was feeling: “Our managing partner started this whole thing about ‘performance metrics,’ and this January our metrics were linked to partner compensation. Arie felt he so much pressure to step up his game, otherwise he’d flat out lose 3 percent of his pay.”

“It’s so sad,” said Tyler Pinnar, a senior manager who worked closely with Williamson. “He was the nicest guy. Sales just wasn’t his thing. I mean, what CPA practice relies on continued, effective business development anyway? Technical work is the key to success in this industry.”

In lieu of flowers, the firm is asking for referrals.

This article was created in celebration of April Fool's Day.

Kristen Rampe is a CPA who provides strategy, direction, and leadership development workshops on communication, team-building, and client service. You can find more ways to improve your practice at kristenrampe.com/blog or reach her at Kristen@kristenrampe.com.

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