So, you’ve made it through the first round of interviews for your dream job — or maybe you’ve made an initial pitch to a prospective new client and now it’s time to close the deal. You want the job, and are more than qualified for it. But is that enough?
Think about the Ivy League college application process where most applicants are qualified but only a fraction are selected. In this case, even though you’ve already proven you have experience and the knowledge to knock the job duties out of the park, closing the deal can come as a challenge.
Fortunately, the very skills that will keep finance and accounting professionals relevant in the digital age can win over your potential employer or client who may be on the fence about selecting you. Beating out the competition isn’t just about your ability to outdo them with the technical aspects of the job. Are your human skills up to par?
Here are 4 human intelligence skills that can help you close any deal.
Leadership and self-confidence
People trust those that know what they’re doing – those who are confident. You know what to do because you’ve trained for it, but do you believe that you’re good at it? When you walk into any meeting it’s important to trust in your own ability to deliver. This sense of self-trust is one that any business partner will pick up on. On paper you look great, but if you don’t believe in your ability to deliver, the client/employer will sense it.
Also, remember there’s a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Your ability to stay on the right side of that line is crucial to demonstrating good leadership qualities. Be a confident leader. Even if servant leadership is more your lane, stand tall in that identity. Confidence is attractive and leaves room for human error and growth, while arrogance can breed disdain and potentially unrealistic expectations.
Once upon a time, you worked in a profession where number crunching was the number one desired skillset. Now, the future of accounting is in financial advising and various other kinds of decision-making. Your client or employer can’t predict everything that you’ll encounter on the job, so demonstrating that you’re a professional with the ability to problem-solve and think layers deeper than what’s at the surface makes you stand out. Not only does it show you’re competent and agile, but it will also illustrate your style – your personality.
Critical thinking is the ability and desire to question everything. Show you’re willing to think before answering questions, and to provide options, alternatives, pros and cons where relevant, and in doing so you’ll not only develop trust, but you’ll be revealing your unique way of doing things.
Sure, we’re talking business here, but business is conducted by people — human beings with emotions. You become an asset if you can understand the emotions and moods of the people around you and can adjust your communication style to support them. If you walk into an interview and the interviewer is clearly distracted or distraught over a personal situation, evaluate whether it’s appropriate to acknowledge those feelings. Often, the answer will be, “yes.”
Adjust your communication style to suit your audience. Ask yourself if you’re speaking in a manner that the audience can receive clearly. Are you relating? Are you enthusiastic about the position you’re applying to? It should be obvious. Are you too long-winded or on the contrary are you lacking detail in your responses? The way you communicate should give off anticipation and excitement to complete the job duties, while respecting the professional’s time.
Also, don’t overlook the importance of your body language. Body language is the way we send messages without saying a word, so this is not the time to send any mixed signals. Sit straight, use positive facial expressions, make eye-contact and talk with your hands. In short, act like you like them. Being that there’s truth to the mirror effect, they should reciprocate.
The ABC’s of being a professional in any respect are crucial. You must know the craft. But as time passes and we maneuver the fourth industrial revolution, the technical skills are no longer enough. Those technical skills will get you in the door, but your ability to lead, think critically, navigate emotions and communicate will close the door behind you and make sure you get invited to stay.
Mballa Mendouga, Communications – Manager, Corporation Social Responsibility & Campaigns, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
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Originally published by AICPA.org