[IMGCAP(1)] Adam Wolf isthe type of guy youd want to bring along to a networking event or have as aguest at a dinner party. Hes got a plethora of stories to tell, is a fast (andsmooth) talker, and naturally knows how to bring people who would benefit fromeach other together.
Not tomention, he likes wine.
We recentlycaught up with the busy director of marketing and business development for CPAand business advisory form Grassi & Co. and he shared a few tricks hes gotup his sleeve.
Firm: Grassi & Co., CPAs & SuccessConsultants
Length of time with firm: 3 years
Extracurricular activities: Golf, reading fiction, history andbusiness books and wine
How it all began: Several years ago, I was networkingfor my next opportunity after having worked on my own consulting for two years.A contact of mine introduced me to a CPA firm that was looking for a marketingdirector. My focus had been more on the PR side previously, but thisopportunity opened up a range of new avenues to pursue. I interviewed for theposition, I liked the firm, they liked me, and I entered the world ofaccounting marketing.
Theinteresting thing is that I was not at all looking to join a CPA firm. While Ihad a background doing work for professional services firms, I was moreinterested in working at a law firm. As things turned out, however, marketingan accounting firm turned out to be incredibly interesting, primarily becausewe handle so many different types of businesses and facets of their industries.
Philosophy on business development: Our managing partner, Lou Grassi,describes it as a contact sport, and I agree. Its about being in continuouscommunication with your clients, referral sources and other thought leaders inyour industry niches. The more market intelligence you can gather, the betterpositioned youll be to identify opportunities.
The key toour approach is having the conversation revolve around the prospect and theirissues. A prospect buys for their reasons, not yours, so saying, Weve got thebest audit practice, or Our people know taxes is just not a sufficient valueproposition. It all stems from listening intently to the prospects concernsand, based on that listening, crafting a message that includes not only whatyou do, but also how it helps them.
Biggest misconception aboutaccountants: Thatall accountants are boring, unsociable people. The partners I work with at myfirm certainly are not. In fact, many of them are very engaging, dynamicpeople.
Favorite part of the job: I love the diversity of having somany different types of projects working simultaneously. Leading my team andempowering people to learn and grow is very rewarding, as is developing aproject, seeing it through to completion and landing a new piece of business.Of course, there is also the joy of working with a group of 15 partners.
Most challenging part of the job: Juggling so many projects is both ablessing and a curse. It keeps things exciting and new, but its an enormouschallenge at the same time. Working with so many diverse personalities can be atest as well.
Describe a typical day: Im in a lot of meetings withpartners to go over various opportunities that are in the pipeline. My role isto be the coach of opportunities. They would come back from a meeting or planto go to a meeting and wed discuss the things they should look to accomplish,the key questions they need to ask, the next steps. Almost every day Imwriting one thing or another, or Im on the phone talking to people like you.
Your leadership style in one word: Delegate. Its all about bestutilizing the talents of the folks on your team and leveraging resources. Ifsomeone with less experience can get a task done, then they should do it.People should be deployed in such a way as to realize their maximum potential.
How youre different: I cant speak to what other peoplebring to the table. One of the things that helps me do a good job is theability to connect with and relate well to different kinds of people. Inaccounting, theres a lot of good technicians out there, there are plenty ofpeople who are skilled. Take an area like creativity, Im probably far from themost creative person, but if you get a creative idea, its not any use to youif you cant sell it effectively or get buy-in. Thats what I think I doexceptionally well build a consensus among a diverse group of people, getpeople to buy into the ideas and get their support to get things done. Thatsnot a skill that every marketing director has.
Secret to keeping clients happy: The first thing that comes to mymind is communication, because you have to stay close to your clients. How doyou stay close? By being in touch with them regularly. I hear from prospectsthat they only hear from their accountants when they have to come do the auditor when they do the tax return. Thats not how we operate. Were in touch withclients, minimally, four times a year. We actually have in-depth, formalmeetings with them four times a year. So, we can understand whats going on,whats coming down the pike, (and) we can help them plan. Thats where wereally add value.
The otherthing with communication is, [when] things come up, challenges, problems, ifyou are in communication, its much easier to deal with things than have itsprung on someone at the last minute. If were not in touch with themregularly, they could be dealing with a problem and by the time we hear aboutit, its too late, its already become a big issue.