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How Buying Habits Changed Client Acquisition

Jun 30th 2015
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This is the first in a three part series that will attempt to provide context to how and why the world of business development is changing forever in the field of public accounting. More importantly, we will walk through how many of these changes are affecting those who are responsible for building your firms client base and maximizing the potential of each client.

The first step in the process is to walk through an exercise in understanding human behavior.

I know that it seems weird that in order to understand the end game for CRM (Client Relationship Management), we have to get in the head of our customers and figure out the best way to approach them for a given piece of business. And just to clarify, you don't have to do anything, but that is what accounting firms have done since CRM began to heat up over 15 years ago.

CRM adoption is at or near 90 percent for almost every business category, while uptake in the world of accounting is hovering in the neighborhood of 7 percent. Only those that don't work heavily with firms are surprised to find the numbers so low.

In reality, the only reason that things are starting to change is because of four primary factors:

1.     Purchasing habits

2.     Technology

3.     Competition

4.     Social changes

For the purposes of this article we are going to really focus on social changes and how they have impacted business development specifically for you and your firm.

The first part of getting inside the head of your client, whether you are selling to a business owner, corporate executive, or high net worth individual, is to understand what drives them and how your approach needs to fall in line with how your target client wants to buy from you. And, in case you have not gotten the message by now – to quote our friends at Salesforce: “Speed is the new currency of business.”  So what does this mean to you?

It means that we now live in a different time and unless we all adapt to how our clients and prospective clients want to interact with us we will become dinosaurs like the IBM Selectric, Rolodex, and Dictaphone.

The first part of the process is to look at your own buying habits on a personal level.  For most people today when they buy anything from toy cars to actual cars they grab a mobile device and begin to source information.

We will get deeper into the nuances of the buying process and the importance of marketing in the next article, but the connection I hope you are making is that when you now make decisions in your business you are much more likely to take the same process to work with you. These changes are taking place because when you change the way people think you change the way they behave. Now, translate that into how you find your next client and there are ominous things on the horizon.

Finally, the last part of the discussion centers on the concepts of instant gratification and self-service. In our modern, mobile device attached at the hip 20-plus hours a day world, people want things instantly and this phenomena has sped up all facets of business and transactions. Moreover, for those of us unwilling to change how we sell or provide information to prospective clients, it only means that the pool of people we can find and send proposals to will only get smaller.

This is where the concept of self-service comes into play, which in itself can be deceiving because it relates to our ability to provide information to someone else without the need for human intervention. In other words, if I want to see your expertise, read your success stories, or find out about a particular area of expertise in your firm then I should not be forced to talk to someone. Relating this to your own experiences, in today's business world if you find someone hard to do business with then you just go find somewhere else to meet your needs.

Now that we have set the stage around how people are consuming information, the next article will deal with marketing and how we can provide what people are looking for and then turn that into real dollars for every partner and every practice area of your firm.

About the author:

Danny EstradaDanny Estrada has been working as a thought leader in CRM for the past 20 years, with the last 10 as a CRM practice leader for New York based technology consultants [email protected]. His team has been involved with over 500 implementation cycles and most recently created a CRM vertical focused on the accounting profession. He is author of the Practical CRM blog (http://blog.practicalcrm.net), a columnist for CRM Magazine and a blogger for Search CRM.  In addition to being a Microsoft Dynamics Ambassador he is a member of AAM (Association for Accounting Marketing).

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