Business development is different from marketing and branding communications! Unfortunately, many CPAs at firms of all sizes do not fully understand how to effectively connect the dots between marketing and practice development or even seen the difference between them. Too often some professionals are unsure about developing the ‘rainmaking’ skills that are so valuable in a business development situation versus the skills necessary for marketing their firms.
At a recent training program led by Danny Wood of Sandler Sales, I picked up a list of suggestions, some of which I thought were practical, effective, and easy to embrace—and that could have a positive impact for anyone trying to be more successful at business development.
I have adapted the list to make it appropriate for CPAs, culling it to include the best ten ideas for both filling the pipeline with qualified prospects and also converting prospects to clients:
Start by having a well-defined image of the ideal client you are seeking.
Be strategic with networking activities so that you invest your time in groups where you are likely to meet quality prospects who fit your ideal client profile.
Commit to being present at targeted events in the business community with enough consistency to develop a strong reputation and gain traction with prospects.
Be precise with centers of influence (COI) as to the type of clients you can serve best and describe the businesses you can work with most effectively.
Do not be uncomfortable asking for referrals.
When introducing yourself and the firm, make the distinction about what differentiates you. Make it crystal-clear how the firm adds value for clients beyond the services you deliver.
When connecting with prospects, do your best to get to know decision makers and influencers in the company.
When you are at a fact-finding meeting with a prospect, never “wing it”; always be prepared. Conduct research about the organization; develop a list of important and relevant questions long before you walk through the door.
When creating your meeting agenda, always start by listening. Once you have heard what really matters most, read between the lines before you respond.
When you leave the meeting, agree on the next steps; do not leave without scheduling a date (accepted by all) to reconnect.
This is a good list to consider as it will help keep you focused and accountable—two key ingredients for successful business development!
About the author: Sally Glick is CMO and principal of Sobel & Co. LLC. She was named Accounting Marketer of the Year for 2003 and was voted into the AAM Hall of Fame in 2007. She can be reached at [email protected].