Archive for the ‘Sales’ Category

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

Build A Marketing Culture

“Doubt is a killer. You just have to know who you are and what you stand for.” -Jennifer Lopez

As baby boomers retire and many of them have already, the firm is usually faced with a shortage of rainmakers. Of course, their knowledge and experience with technical work are also missed.

Firms have spent many years and a lot of money developing technical experts. But, have they spent many years and lots of money developing rainmakers? The answer is no.

It is so important to instill the responsibility and expertise for bringing in new business in everyone working at the firm, especially the younger accountants. I have observed that firm leaders don’t begin early enough to develop future rainmakers. Here are some suggestions on how to build enthusiasm for marketing.

Marketing Education From Day One – As part of orientation, be sure your new hire spends some time with your marketing director (or firm administrator) to learn about firm marketing efforts. One marketing director gives the newbies a “tour” of the marketing closet, showing them the firm marketing collateral and giving them their business cards on the first day. Set a goal for them to distribute their business card to twenty people their first week at the firm. Assure them that they can give it to friends and even relatives, just for the practice. The marketing director has a lot to teach new hires.

Provide Opportunities to Practice – Organize a marketing skills lunch and learn for staff. At my firm, we even talked about the proper way to shake hands and had them practice with each other. Have them develop their elevator speech (how they quickly describe what they do and who they work for in an informative and brief way).

Establish Accountability – A simple, easy-to-use marketing activity report is an important tool for new staff. Sometimes, even managers need marketing education. The marketing activity report is submitted to the marketing director every month.

Leaders Setting The Example – Young people learn from observing others. Do all your partners frequently attend community and business events? Are your partners writing articles for the firm newsletter? Do you have some partners who blog, tweet, or do podcasts?

Always Have A Shadow – Partners and more experienced accountants should always offer to take a beginner along on a prospect meeting. When you have a lunch meeting with a current client, invite a beginner. You can flatter your important client by saying, “Today I have asked Ned Newbie to join us for lunch. He is new to the firm and just learning how CPAs work. I thought he could learn benefit from attending a lunch meeting with an important client like you.”

Building the enthusiasm for marketing doesn’t happen naturally for accountants. Don’t wait until a manager is being considered for partnership before they know that bringing in business is an expectation.

  • Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.
  • Zig Ziglar

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

Digital Rainmaking

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” -Thomas Edison

Times have changed dramatically. The old ways of business development inside CPA firms are gone (for now and maybe forever).

I imagine many firms are not comfortable with pursuing new business in the digital world.

Sarah Dobek, Inovautus Consulting, is offering practitioners the opportunity to invest in digital marketing training.

The training involves four sessions: Session 1: The Intersection Between Traditional + Virtual BD, Session 2: Networking Virtually, Session 3: Best Practices for Integrating Video into the Sales Process, and Session 4: Social Selling.

Don’t sit on the sidelines, get involved with digital marketing. Get more information about this training and the sessions here.

  • The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
  • Thomas Paine

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

More Important Than Ever

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” – Will Rogers

Websites are on my mind today. When comes to promoting your firm, yourself, and your people, your website is more important than ever.

As you might guess, I constantly look at CPA firm websites. If you ever send me an email or if your firm is ever in the news, you can bet I will be perusing your website.

There are still a significant number of firms that have not taken action on updating their website. It appears that it has been the same for the last ten or fifteen years. You can tell immediately when you hit their site. When I ‘hit’ one, it makes me sad.

In these times of no meeting and greeting potential clients in person, the only impression they get of you is from your website. Someone should be managing your website daily. You need current articles and high-quality pictures of your partners and other leaders. Your site needs to give the impression that you are modern, future-focused, and extremely knowledgeable. If your website says (without using words) that you are an “old school” firm, you are in trouble.

For progressive firms, a significant number of new clients come to the firm because of their website. How many are coming to your firm because they simply looked at your website and were impressed?

  • You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and yours may be in the hands of the receptionist.
  • Harvey Mackay

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

Are You Still Selling Time?

“What we care about is the work done, not how long it took to do it.” – Seth Godin

The following is one of those Seth Godin posts that I just copy and share. It is an important question for CPAs. Are you selling results?

Selling Your Time

We don’t pay surgeons by the hour.

And if the person who cuts the lawn shows up with a very fast riding mower, we don’t insist on paying less because they didn’t have to work as hard.

Often, what we care about is the work done, not how long it took to do it.

And yet, some jobs, from law to programming, charge by the hour.

When you sell your time, you’re giving away your ability to be a thoughtful, productivity-improving professional.

Sell results.

  • In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.
  • Seth Godin

Monday, July 13th, 2020

Business Development

“Great salespeople are relationship builders who provide value and help their customers win.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

Times have changed and the pandemic has caused marketers to rethink their activities and strategies.

Sales calls are becoming a thing of the past. Plus, a prospective client already knows SO MUCH about the firm because they study your website and check you out on social media.

In a very informative article in the July issue of Inside Public Accounting (I hope you have read your copy), Carrie Steffen, founder, and president of The Whetstone Group says relationships can be nurtured even if meetings aren’t in person.

  • Check in with clients (use Zoom)
  • Check in with prospects and referral sources (organize a virtual networking lunch).
  • Move forward (if a prospect check-in meeting goes well, pursue the relationship further).
  • Use technology (be proficient with your video software – no fumbling around! Email is also still a good tool.)
  • Find profitable opportunities. (Revisit your definition of an “A” client and match prospects to the profile.)

Read the entire article for much more information. It is titled, Business Development In A Recession: Outrun The Competition With A Digital Strategy And Strong Relationships

  • Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.
  • Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

Lack of Self-Confidence

“Great salespeople are relationship builders who provide value and help their customers win.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

I bet you have heard the classic line: “I didn’t major in accounting so that I could become a salesperson.”

If you are working in public accounting, you must embrace marketing and sales. It is the lifeblood of a growing and successful firm.

Many accountants actually have a fear of attempting to “sell” services to a potential client. I always claim that you can land new clients if you simply like people. It is about connecting to others and building relationships.

Begin by building your own self-confidence. You have SO MUCH valuable knowledge – you are worth every penny a client pays you. You have helped so many clients in the past. Take that air of success with you as you approach potential clients. Tell success stories.

Jeffrey Gitomer (famous sales guru) recommends that you keep the story of “The Little Engine That Could” in mind – “I think I can. I think I can.” He says that thinking you can is 50% of the outcome. Never show doubt or uncertainty – you are a winner and can be such an asset to that potential client’s future success.

  • Attitude drives actions. Actions drives results. Results drive lifestyles.
  • Jim Rohn

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

Teaching Staff the Secrets of Marketing & Sales

“I recently went to a new doctor and noticed he was located in something called a Professional Building. I felt better right away.” – George Carlin

Are you teaching your young accountants how to become successful as rainmakers? If they want to be on the ownership track, they need to be able to bring in new business to the firm. That’s an overwhelming assignment for new hires.

The journey begins in their first week by having new recruits meet with your marketing director as part of orientation. The MD will simply explain how it all works and share all the tools the firm has available to help them succeed.

No expectations are set (that happens later down the road) except that the beginner CPA needs to be visible and attend business, civic and charitable events along with a more experienced CPA.

A helpful exercise is to host a lunch and learn where two or three of the firm’s best business developer partners participate in a panel discussion about how they became successful at attracting new clients to the firm. Each partner will have a slightly different success story and the entire staff is invited to the lunch and learn to listen and ask questions.

Never let marketing/sales be a surprise to your team members. Make it part of your culture and provide the tools necessary to help them succeed.

  • Nine tenths of education is encouragement.
  • Anatole France

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

Old School

“There’s definitely an old school element to my music, but I also think it’s modern.” – Lenny Kravitz

How is your firm viewed by clients and prospects?

Progressive, innovative, passionate and future-focused or “old school”?

Many firms still have partners, in their 60s or older, who have been long-time rainmakers still out there being the “face of the firm.” Young partners, managers, and staff are often completely happy letting them do it.

The word on the street becomes, “they’re old school.”

Even in the age of online visibility and branding, the importance of being heard and seen in your local business community is still very important for most accounting firms. Educate your entire team about being “on stage” and representing the firm not only during business hours but after hours, too.

Older rainmakers, it is your duty to replace yourself. ALWAYS take a younger person along when you are out and about. Younger, less experienced CPAs – it’s your responsibility to ask them to take you along.

  • I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it.
  • J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

Rainmakers Retiring

“What differentiates sellers today is their ability to bring fresh ideas.” – Jill Konrath

In many CPA firms, the most successful rainmakers are still in the baby boomer category. Yet, as we all know, baby boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 per day.

Who will replace your top rainmaker(s)? This is a valid concern in many accounting firms. But, times are changing and so is the role of the CPA firm rainmaker.

In an informative article via Accounting Today, written by Lee Frederiksen, he notes that the rainmaker model is beginning to dry up!

Attracting new clients used to be based on the personalities of certain partners. These partners were out and about in the business community and made contacts that led to new business.

Now, a prospective client has checked out the firm, it’s leaders and the services they provide before anyone at the firm has actually met them. Future clients are searching for the firm with the right expertise to solve their specific business challenges. Hopefully, your firm possesses the services and expertise they are looking for and they can find it on your website.

Be sure to read the entire article.

  • The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.
  • Walt Disney

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

They Are So Much More Than A Receptionist

“I’m just a friendly person; that runs in my family.” -Dolly Parton

The person who greets your client and other visitors is so much more than a receptionist. It is such an important role, especially if you, like many firms, have an office where people feel comfortable just stopping by.

Many firms are now titling their receptionist the Director of First Impressions and that is exactly what they are. Visitors to your office, whether they are a client, a prospective client, a delivery person, an interviewee or a person making a sales call, will talk about your firm. Make sure they are saying, “Wow, what a friendly place!”

Little things make the biggest difference in this area. Does your DOFI offer refreshments? Do they hang up the client’s jacket/coat in a cedar-lined closet? Do they have a menu prepared that lists the types of beverages you have available? Do they engage in small talk in an informative, entertaining and helpful manner?

They are truly an ambassador for your firm. It is not a job that should be looked down upon by other people on the admin team.

If you have an all-star in this role, I hope you are paying them a premium. I know a firm that once won a huge client partly because they liked the way they were treated when their executive team visited the firm’s office.

Read this interesting and helpful article by Jeffrey Gitomer called Receptionist Selling.

  • We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.
  • Jeff Bezos