For most accountants and CPAs, selling is often not a favorite part of the job. In order to develop and maintain a solid book of business, however, selling is a must whether you are a sole practioner, seasoned partner in a large firm, or a new associate.
As your Firm seeks new business, there are seven steps to complete:
- find a new prospect
- identify the decision maker
- clarify the need for your service
- ask for a meeting
- exchange information
- present a solution
- ask for the business
Most CPAs are comfortable once the information exchange begins, but no one wants to make the "cold" calls necessary to get to step five! If this is true for your Firm, consider engaging the services of a telemarketing specialist.
Although there are hundreds of telemarketing firms from which to choose, those best suited to meet your needs work exclusively with professional service firms. These business-to-business sales professionals are uniquely qualified to generate leads for CPAs. To effectively utilize a telemarketing service, make sure you do the following:
Set a goal
Remember, the objective of the telemarketer is to get you in front of a qualified lead, so you can ultimately close the deal. You make this easier by identifying one very specific goal. For example, Bob Jackson of PST Sales & Marketing suggests that rather than telling the telemarketing Firm “we want more business,” firmly state your goal as “we want to gain 20 new employee benefit plan audits in 2008.”
Designate a “rainmaker” to follow up on leads
The telemarketing firm will provide detailed information on each prospect, their need, and any unique information to help you in your meeting once they set the appointment. The follow-up is your responsibility. Therefore, the CPA assigned must be skilled in new business development. Because the leads are generated through cold calls, plan to invest a little more time developing a relationship with the prospect prior to generating a proposal. Remember, it is the telemarketing firm’s job to generate the lead and set the appointment. It is ultimately the CPA’s job to inform the prospect, win their confidence, and close the sale.
Define expectations through your written contract
Because there are many steps in the process and a variety of service options, the results you expect from your telemarketing firm’s efforts should be well clarified up front. As part of your contract, define what tasks they will and won’t do for you, how they deliver data, and who owns the data when the project is complete. For instance, some telemarketing firms provide you with individual lead information only, while others provide you an entire customer relationship management (CRM) database of companies and contacts for later use. Also, while confidentiality is standard, if you want the telemarketing firm to work exclusively with you in your market, make sure you state that in your contract.
Make telemarketing part of your marketing strategy
Last, don’t view telemarketing as a one-time only project. Instead, invest in it as part of your long-term marketing and sales strategy. While some services are easier to sell than others, with a well-researched prospect list and regular telemarketing efforts, you have the opportunity to get in front of more prospects than you do relying on periodic referrals.
Once you establish a good working relationship with your telemarketing firm, you will increase your chances to win new business and you never have to ask your CPAs to make the “cold call” again!
“Business Development: Resources to Use” is an eight part series written exclusively for Accountingweb.com. The series’ authors are Jill Mercer, President of Wilson-Mercer Marketing and Vanessa Stiles, APR, President of Victory Sun, Inc. Visit their websites at www.wilsonmercer.com and www.wearevictorysun.com.
"Business Development: Resources to Use" is an eight part series written exclusively for AccountingWEB. The series' authors are Jill Mercer, president of Wilson-Mercer Marketing and Vanessa Stiles, president of Victory Sun, Inc. Visit their websites at www.wilsonmercer.com and www.wearevictorysun.com.
Other articles in this series: