In today’s dynamic environment, accounting firms must begin employing business development strategies. It’s hard to do and most accounting firms don’t have a clue as to where to begin the process. Small to mid-sized firms have primarily relied on referrals and networking to increase their business – or through acquisition. However, to stimulate true growth, savvy accounting firms have begun hiring business development specialists. Those sales specialists, who have accounting industry experience, are a rare breed but can be cultivated, if the firm has the “right person on the bus.”
Beyond hiring a business development specialist, firms can kick start their business development by creating a process for going after coveted prospects. Many consultants in the industry suggest creating a “pipeline report” that lists potential new business or prospects for the firm. Partners and managers can review and discuss the pipeline report to create more synergy and direction for the firms’ business development efforts.
Even firms that aren’t ready for a sophisticated or integrated sales process can benefit by merely identifying a profile or profiles of the types of clients they would like to obtain. Understanding the type of client you would like to work with is at least a step in the right direction. Utilizing the profile created, firms can then identify specific prospects in key niche areas to create a pipeline report.
The key in any business development area is maintaining the momentum and the focus on the effort. Tap into the resources of your marketing director or marketing department to develop the process or enlist the assistance of a consultant in the industry. But most of all, start thinking of “selling” and the accompanying process as an opportunity rather than a dirty word.
Written by Audra McIntosh,
Whalen & Company, CPAs and Consultants