It’s hard to make it “rain,” but anyone can make it drizzle with the proper professional support, a well-directed and managed marketing program, and practice development coaching and training.
Supporting partners’ practice development efforts with professional assistance and a focused game plan can increase the amount of new business they will engage each year and enable all partners to be successful at practice development. Practice development is a contact sport that requires a systematic and sustained approach to engage qualified client prospects and develop business relationships with referral sources. Marketing professional accounting services is different from other selling approaches. It normally requires relationship building and developing a sense of trust and credibility with a potential prospect or referral source. Here’s a game plan that will allow most CPA professionals to become more successful in their practice development efforts and spend less time in the process:
Target Marketing—Target Marketing avoids CPA professionals wasting time such as attending unproductive networking and other marketing events. Target Marketing client prospects and referral sources provides a focus to all of your marketing activities and most often produces better results than the “shot-gun” approach to marketing. Market segments and niches should also be targeted in relation to the firm’s resources and service capabilities.
Producing qualified leads from market research can substantially increase the chances of a successful practice development program, and significantly cuts down on the amount of prospecting time spent by most CPA professionals.
Relationship Management—It’s crucial that contact and follow-up continue consistently over time once a partner has a meeting with a prospect. Lack of consistent contact and follow-up with prospects is where the practice development cycle breaks down and creates most of the frustration and failures in partner new business efforts. Marketing public accounting services often requires that partners develop relationships with the decision makers. It may take up to two years or more to close a large quality client. Having a relationship manager assist partners with this process is essential for success. During the relationship management cycle it’s important that communications, both written and verbal, properly market the benefits of becoming a client of the firm.
Practice Development—The best approach to selling accounting services is to let the prospective client close the sale for you by assisting the prospect in the process and making the decision an easy one. Working with the prospects at their pace and continuously communicating the value that your firm has to offer can eventually close the deal. Partners should receive practice development training throughout their career as a way of learning and refining techniques and encouraging and motivating them to market themselves and the firm. Professional proposals and presentations may be essential in the closing process. Spare no expense in the quality, uniqueness, professionalism, innovation, and creativity of your proposals and presentations.
Yes, anyone can make it drizzle with the proper support and training, but it takes patience, focus, and perseverance.
Having a number of your partners making it “drizzle” versus relying on a few “rainmakers” will increase the chance of a successful succession plan.