The Four Faces of Business Developers in CPA Firms

By Alexandra DeFelice
 
When it comes to business development, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Each individual within each firm possesses individual skill sets and comfort levels. If firms look at the pool of talent and divide their employees based on skills, they will be more likely to succeed in creating a true marketing and business development culture.
 
This topic was the focus of a recent presentation that Jennifer Lee Wilson, partner and cofounder of ConvergenceCoaching, delivered to the Moore Stephens North America marketing group. Following is an overview of the four different types of business developers and how to best utilize these personalities within firms as outlined by Wilson.
 
1. The "sourcer." Sourcers generate opportunities for the firm; in other words, they source leads. These people are twenty-five years into their careers, and they have an abundant referral network. Clients and prospects think of them often because they spent years in the community building those relationships, and people see them as the men or women to call on for certain topics. They are active participants who sit on boards, speak publicly, and are entrenched in certain associations. One of the challenges with sourcers is making sure they expand and push forward with new referral sources and not get complacent in the same boards year after year.
 
2. The seller. Sellers are responsible for closing business. They are willing to qualify prospects, scope work, and propose work with others in the firm, such as a technical manager. If handed a lead or opportunity, their colleagues count on them to follow through and close the deal. 
 
3. The server. Servers serve clients. They produce tax, audit, accounting work, or specialized services, and they keep clients engaged with the firm. Most of them do that pretty well, but they also should be uncovering new opportunities to grow the firm's existing client base.
 
4. The supporter (including administration). Supporters respond to opportunities generated for others in the firm. They assist with recruiting, marketing, proposal production, scheduling meetings, and producing pipeline reports and updating those reports by getting feedback from various people. Firms need to better understand the importance of these support roles in order for supporters to feel involved, without feeling afraid or intimidated.
 
Clients "buy" the person who sells to them, and they want that person to be their server. Sellers have to be recognized for new business they close. Sourcers bring in tons of business, but firms pay on their book of business, so they often focus on client service. Firms need to think about how to incent sourcers to focus more on sourcing, not serving, and get sourcers to connect with others and create a team approach. This is because firms have a plethora of servers, not sourcers, Wilson said. 
 
"Human beings are uniquely gifted and have unique deficiencies," Wilson said. "They shouldn't be required to have the same marketing responsibilities. Tailor expectations and play to people's strengths."
 
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About the author:
Alexandra DeFelice is senior manager of communication and program development for Moore Stephens North America, and a regional member of Moore Stephens International Limited, a network of more than 360 accounting and consulting firms with nearly 650 offices in 100 countries. Alexandra can be reached at adefelice@msnainc.org.

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