Whether you are in growth-mode or not, accounting firms struggle with basic productivity issues and simply keeping pace with their colleagues and growing business needs of their clients.
We have found that they tend to benefit from hearing about what their colleagues went through and their shared success. As such, sales tax and compliance service provider Avalara produced a series of case studies of firms they have worked with that, like many, have had to overcome challenges with efficiency and updating technology in the right way.
Below is the next in a series of case studies we plan to run as part of our partnership with Avalara, as we have a shared belief in seeing the accounting profession move forward and address today’s business challenges in order to face tomorrow. These interviews were conducted by Jeremy Korst, CMO of Avalara.
He recently spoke with Monika Miles, founder and CEO of Miles Consulting Group. Her firm focuses on multistate tax consulting, helping clients solve issues such as sales tax and income tax in interstate commerce, including ecommerce.
Hear what she had to say about developing and growing a niche practice, as well as attracting the right clients to serve that focus.
Korst: What’s your niche?
Miles: We focus on multistate tax consulting — helping companies navigate sales tax and income tax as they do business across state lines. My business is not a traditional CPA firm.
Korst: Does this create unique challenges?
Miles: Essentially, I’m always focused on building my book of business since I don’t have the luxury of recurring business from doing returns or audits.
Korst: Have there been any surprises?
Miles: Four years ago, due to changing California statutes, I had to retool my business and seek out alternative projects. Through my own need to evolve, I formalized a program to teach service business owners how to build their own pipelines and increase income. This has become a side consulting business for me. I speak regularly and do customized trainings for firms.
Korst: What’s the key takeaway for other firms that want to grow?
Miles: First, put yourself in a sales mindset. Next, identify your perfect client and put yourself in the room with them. Begin a relationship. And then reach out in various ways to make your services visible. Making yourself accessible and accountable to your clients brings in the element of trust and the opportunity for future referrals and follow-up projects — even as clients move on to new employers.
Korst: Who’s your ideal client?
Miles: My clients tend to be middle market companies, often in tech. They may be looking toward an M&A transaction or be pre-IPO. Often this event is the first time they’ve considered sales tax. Thus they may have some skeletons in the closet. They need someone who can help them identify, understand, and address their risks in a way that makes them feel secure.
Korst: How do you reach potential clients?
Miles: I have a wide network of clients and referral partners across the country that I nurture, and I try to be very visible to them. This involves putting myself out there in terms of public speaking, weekly blogs, training, writing, and an active website.
About Jeremy Korst
Jeremy Korst is Chief Marketing Officer at Avalara.