Closing Over a Long Period of Time

Some buying situations take longer than others.

How do you gain the advantage when the client is taking their time – and talking to others?

It’s a fact - most CPAs are less than great at taking the sale from interview to actual closure (getting the client in a competitive situation).

And let’s be clear – most CPAs do not engage in selling, they take orders. I did the "I-Hate-Selling" program for a middle-sized firm in PA, and the managing partner was candid: "Until the recession hit, we thought we were great marketers. We had so much new work; but we were merely taking orders. The client wanted this, some of that. Then the economy died and we found out how good we really were."

When CPAs do have to compete against others, the chances are at least 75% they will fail (the average closure to a multiple selling situation based on 4 firms invited to propose). How do I know? I have consulted with over 500 CPA firms.

Perhaps the real problem is not how long the competitive sale is taking, but also, is it worth it?

Selling is the greatest skill in the business world. Just ask Mitt Romney.

In the real world (not public accounting), who’s laid off last? The accountants? No - the people who go last are the ones hardest to replace: those folks hustling up business - the really good salespeople.

Do you think when one of the Big 4 announces mass “downsizings” they are firing the people who actively bring in quality business? No…they fire the technicians who they can train and replace.

Great salespeople are never downsized. My grandfather, Bernie Fast, of blessed memory, supported his family well during the Great Depression; he managed the largest furniture store in a chain. And he could sell.

One of the biggest mistakes CPAs, and all professionals for that matter, make is pursuing people who weren't sellable in the first place, and they didn't know it. Similar to that is pursuing people who really shouldn't be a client, except the CPA never really figured that out until a lot of time was invested (and wasted) in the sales process.

That's the real value of The "I-Hate-Selling" Book: it is the only book we can find that tells you precisely when the client is sold 90% of the time...or if it is really not likely to close after all.

If you are convinced that you have a really good chance to close an important client opportunity, then we can look at some strategies to "keep it going and move it along to closure":

1. “He who has the most contact wins”

A client recently lost a top recruit because after the final interview she received personal notes, emails, calls from an assortment of her peers at the firm that was also wooing her. She felt wanted. My client just let her be from the time of the final interviews until they lost. D'Oh!

I don't care how you stay in front of the people you are wooing...

- Send an article
- Write thank you notes
- Send an email suggesting that they look at a certain website
- Link them in

You don't' want to be a nuisance, but you somehow have to show you care about them versus the enemy.

2. Get in there and infect their premises

It's always a good idea to go back to the client's premises after your final meeting to meet more of their people and get a better idea as to what is going on so you can hit the ground running when they hire you.

Your competition won't think of it and chances are you can have lunch with your contact or the decisionmaker, or both, to give them some input as to what you see.

3. Give some more thought to their hurt and your solution

Perhaps you have some further insight into your solution or an alternative way to approach their situation. That's always a good idea to get in front of them and your competition won't think of it

4. Talk to your internal coach

You should have acquired an inside friend who will be telling you what is going on inside.

Stay in close contact; they have an investment in seeing you succeed. Follow their advice and ask them for suggestions...it gives them ownership of the sale.

5. Make sure the client is making the right decision…

Perhaps you have done some research, or talked to the client or a referral source of theirs, and you have discovered some problems as it relates to a competitor.

Example: you see that a competing firm has just laid off a bunch of people...will they still have enough manpower to do the job?

6. And, of course, never leave an appointment without the next appointment.

Are they committed enough to continue to set solid dates to check up on them? No, I’m not talking about the “call me in a couple of weeks” stuff. You and the client should be talking at regularly scheduled intervals – until they make a decision.

Lastly, please remember that nobody sells everybody; give yourself a break. There was only one perfect man that walked this earth.

Allan S. Boress, CPA, FCPA is the author of 12 published books on marketing, selling and managing the business development process for CPAs. He has consulted with over 500 professional firm and trained over 200,000 professionals since 1980. His "I-Hate-Selling" methodology is available at www.ihateselling.com

This blog

by Allan Boress, CPA - Based on over 25 years being a practitioner and consultant to the profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.

42059

Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.

74157

Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.

47025

Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

86325
Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.
19692

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".

54111

William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.

78667

Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (www.ubcc.com), a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.

24372

Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.

62459

Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

33718
Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
100245
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.
24920

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

50943
Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
26694
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.
31004

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.

97453

The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.

32199

FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.

108316

Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.

59053

Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

38347
Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.
65142

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of Yellowbook-CPE.com a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.

90827

AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish AccountingWEB.co.uk share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.

51964