Monthly Archives: November 2015
What one ingredient must a “rain maker” have to truly be effective?
Of course, good rain makers have many skills and attributes that enable them to be successful. These skills include creativity, effective listening skills, tenacity, integrity, product knowledge, persuasion and a good service to sell.
However, the one ingredient that really enables a good rain maker to become great is passion. That’s right, passion that what they are selling is the best solution for the prospect. This passion and strength of conviction can not be faked. To be a top notch performer, the rain maker needs to “drink the Kool-Aid”, lock stock and barrel.
To illustrate my point, think back to the movie “A Few Good Men” featuring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. In the movie, Nicholson played Colonel Jessep and Cruise was a young, wet behind the ears, trial lawyer named Kaffee. Think back to the passion that Cruise integrated into the following dialogue:
Jack Nicholson (Col Jessup): You want answers?
Tom Cruise (Kaffee): I want the truth!
Jack Nicholson (Jessup): You can’t handle the truth!
The passion that Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson inserted into this scene made it priceless. They made it real. While this is an extreme example of passion (and great acting), my point is that conveying passion and emotion into your delivery is what true rain makers manage to do when the situation calls for it.
The ingredient that separates good rain makers from great rain makers is passion and the ability to connect emotionally. This passion becomes the fulcrum or tipping point for moving fence sitters through the buying process. It is passion that allows a rain maker to demonstrate the depth of how much they care and listen to the concerns and fears of prospects. It is passion that enables rain makers to lead prospects past the decision making process by connecting with emotional intelligence. The rational mind will justify and validate the purchase later.
Think about it, have you ever had to persuade somebody to “drink the Kool-Aid” when you yourself did not truly believe? When you were unwilling to drink the Kool-Aid first?
When a rain maker has doubts or lacks passion for what they offer, the prospect senses this clear as day and proceeds with caution and skepticism. Conversely, when a prospective customer can sense that the rain maker genuinely cares about helping them with the purchase decision (as opposed to selling) and is passionate about doing the right thing, a light bulb goes on. Passion is contagious and very motivating, if it’s genuine and heartfelt.
Finding Your Passion
Realistically, when was the last time you felt excited about going to work? When was the last time you helped a client make a paradigm shift with their business and felt good about it? Do you enjoy being the trusted advisor for your clients?
Many of us have gotten into ruts and lost our passion for what we do. The reasons range from lack of empowerment to office burnout to lack of lifestyle balance. Regardless of the reason, the challenge is to put fun back into what you do. To find that passion that lies deep within each of us and channel it towards helping small business owners, we must be willing to put our heart on our sleeve and share it with prospective clients.
For many accountants, this sense of gratification and fulfillment is something that exists with current client relationships. However, the challenge is to share this passion holistically with prospective clients. While this concept may sound foreign or like an outer body experience, this passion is what true rain makers can bring to the table and share with prospective clients.
If your rain making skills have slipped half a notch, try incorporating some passion into your presentations. Help the prospect drink your brand of Kool-Aid by alleviating their pain. After a couple of wins, the weight on your shoulders will start to get lighter and the bounce in your step will soon return.
While most accountants want to grow their accounting practice so their practice is worth more when they decide to retire, they typically lack the time, skills and desire needed to grow aggressively.
- Lack the Time – Most accountants get sucked into the operational side (back end) of their practice by staff and demanding clients. We all know that the squeaky wheel gets greased. As a result, accountants typically lack the time to aggressively market and generate enough leads.
- Skills – Let’s face it, accountants are technically proficient but not marketing savvy. The road to becoming proficient at accounting and tax has nothing to do with lead generation, reputation management, and branding.
- Desire – And worst, most accountants simply don’t have the desire to peddle their own wares. They enjoy operating in a consultative manner but hate working a crowd.
Why Is Outsourced Marketing growing within the accounting industry?
For most accountants, the market value of your accounting practice is the most important component of your retirement plan. That’s right, the value of your accounting practice on the open market is the linchpin to how prosperous the retirement years will be.
Here are some of the other reasons why more accounting firms are outsourcing their marketing function to companies like Build Your Firm:
- Marketing is not a core function of the firm and not what we excel at.
- It is less expensive to grow with marketing than buying another firm. That’s right, outsourced marketing is approximately 50% cheaper than buying someone else’s practice.
- Outsourced marketing is more sustainable, 365 days out of the year. As a result, the annual new business acquired is higher with a sustained marketing approach than binge marketing for short periods of time.
- Partnering with marketing experts yields better results. By partnering with marketing gurus, my practice will become easier to sell, more profitable and worth a higher multiple. It’s not about doing more of the same thing, it’s about improving our profit margins, hourly realization rates and obtaining a better balanced lifestyle.
If you’d like to learn more about Build Your Firm’s Outsourced Marketing Program, then call at 888-999-9800 x1. This program will provide you with the coaching and mentoring needed to acquire new clients, market your practice consistently throughout the year, improve your reputation locally, and dramatically increase your hourly realization rates so your practice commands a higher multiple on the open market.
Fortunately, the general attitude amongst most accountants that I talk to is more positive than year’s past. In fact, it’s a little optimistic as it relates to how the year is closing and prospects for 2016. And some have been pleased with profit margin improvements over the past couple of years.
Here are a few things that I’ve heard so far:
- Practice Management tools – Is there a magic bullet to help me as my practice grows?
- Online Payment Processing – Absolutely needed to shrink A/R!!
- Higher better staff – Ok, this is always on the list…
- Learn something new – Explore a new area to improve the practice.
- Attend a new conference for 2016.
- Replace my website (facelift) with a responsive web design that looks modern.
- Outsource marketing and lead generation for 2016.
- Improve my reputation locally so new business walks in the door.
- Develop a new niche in my practice.
- Add 1-2 new certifications to give prospects more reasons to hire your firm.
- Move my office to a better location after tax season.
Since the list is rather long, here are some suggestions to make your wishes come true.
- Plan now for technology investments. Since tax season is rapidly approaching, now is the time to explore and test new technologies whether it’s a practice management tool, tax software, replace your dated website with a responsive website, or implement online payment processing to shrink A/R. Resist the instinct to test this at year-end.
- Hire and train staff now.
- Register now for 1-2 new conferences (or initiatives) in 2016.
- Stop the DIYer marketing approach and finally outsource your marketing so it is done throughout the year and more effectively.
- Enhance your local reputation by obtaining more online reviews and move the office to a better location in 2016.
- Cut the productivity killers (e.g., lousy staff members, time killing clients, old technologies that fail to deliver on their promise).
Does your website present the “branded image” that you want? Be honest….
In the course of a month, how many compliments does your website receive?
And how much new business is it delivering to your accounting practice?
From our perspective, your firm website should create an image that makes you and your staff members proud to be associated with. It should increase the awareness for your firm, reassure prospects about your perceived quality, show associations that turn on the light bulb for prospects, and support your firm pricing. And gradually over time, the website should contribute the to branding of your firm. By all means, there is much more that goes into branding but it’s the starting point for creating a “first impression.”
Build Brand Equity – The concept of branding is not new. In fact, Proctor & Gamble used branding to create many household brands like Ivory Soap (1881), Crisco (1911), and other brands like Dreft, Camay, Spic & Span, Tide, Prell, etc. Coca-Cola is another. In our industry, BDO has been doing an effective job using a TV advertising campaign to increase awareness for BDO and turn it into a recognizable brand.
For small accounting practices, your brand image begins with the website and the impression that it creates. After that, most of the associations will be your initial meeting, what others say about your firm online (Google, Yelp, etc.), your office location/setting, and the on-boarding process with your staff.
Fundamentally, branding makes it easier for clients to process information, gives them confidence in the decision process, and evolves into brand loyalty.
To illustrate the point, here is a video that showcases how websites can create the right first impression.
Lead generation programs using “cold call” telemarketing to capture leads has been on decline for several decades now. For whatever reason, many accountants still consider using cold call telemarketing even though they personally hate the tactic themselves. If you are considering deploying a smile and dial campaign, I strongly urge you to reconsider for the following reasons.
1. Telemarketing has been negatively associated with various scams and frauds, which is the opposite association that you want to create for your accounting practice. In a nutshell, most people consider the telemarketing process as an unethical business practice because it uses a high pressure sales technique to turn you into a lead. Most accountants that I know prefer to operate in a consultative manner, and hate the snake oil salesman approach. For example, what would be your first impression of a lawyer in town who started telemarketing small business owners. Would you think he was desperate? Would you think he was ethical? This is how small business owners feel when you cold call them. Cold call telemarketing does not create the appropriate image for your accounting practice.
2. Telemarketing leads are hard to convert and quickly turn your service into a commodity because the prospect has agreed to an appointment with very little interest in your practice. And after thinking further, they often cancel the appointment. In fact, they probably know nothing about you and your firm and don’t care until the price is lower than what they currently pay.
3. Retention rates for telemarketing leads is dramatically shorter than referrals and inbound marketing. That’s right, the average duration of a new client obtained through cold call telemarketing will be shorter because they will leave you once the next person calls with a lower price.
4. Outbound telemarketers are calling as representatives of your accounting firm and hold your firm reputation in their hands. Do you really feel comfortable that the person calling to set up appointments will position your firm’s reputation properly? Typically, the people who will perform the task of calling small business owners are not reliable, trustworthy or professional. Your reputation can be tarnished locally by hiring low end appointment setters.
5. People like to shop but hate being sold to. In other words, we all enjoy the hunt and are willing to shop online to find products and services which meet our needs. However, most of us hate being pitched and sold to. Telemarketing is not marketing, it’s a sales pitch which is repulsive to business owners in your surrounding communities. Learn how to use inbound marketing techniques to attract qualified prospects to your firm rather than push your message onto prospects in a sales oriented fashion.
Personally, I can’t remember the last time I agreed to engage in a cold call. I try hard to be polite and wait until they come up for air but quickly depart from the call. Think about it yourself, when was the last time you bought something that started with a cold call appointment?
Here is a video which illustrates the difference between cold calling and inbound marketing.
The emergence of website marketing, reputation management tools, and social media has changed how you should implement your marketing program. Learn how to improve the quality of your marketing system and modernize your approach.
Is your website faceless and impersonal? Does it lack personality?
While I admit that many accounting firm websites are improving, most are still very cold and fail to create the right first impression. In some cases, they suck. Sorry but true.
Making a strong first impression is a part of building your accounting firm into a brand. Whether a person first learns about your firm from your website, LinkedIn page, Facebook Fan page, or from a client of yours, the first impression goes a long ways towards defining their perception of your firm, and you.
Let’s focus on your accounting firm website. The process is similar for most electronic mediums. Here are several factors that create an impression when someone is considering working with your accounting firm.
1. Photography – It’s amazing how much impact a high-quality photo or graphic can have on a website design. The right photo can immediately create interest in your firm services. Take the time to paint the proper picture for your prospect when they arrive at your doorstep. Here are examples of how photography can create an image.
2. Logo/Branding – A well crafted logo can make it easier for people to remember your firm or create a favorable image of your firm. While a logo is not always necessary, it can pull together the message you want to create.
3. Website Colors – The color of your website should coordinate with the photography and logo for your firm and create the right mood.
4. Website layout design – One of the most important design elements is the layout choice. Whatever layout you use should draw the reader to those items that are most important. While most template based accounting websites use a standard and rigid design, you’ll want to make sure your website design adds to the effectiveness of your message.
5. Your Local Reputation – Managing your firm reputation locally requires a proactive effort. In today’s cluttered world, you need to utilize online reviews in Google and Yelp to influence your local reputation and make prospects aware of the wonderful services your firm provides. Your website should make online reviews easier for clients to post online.
6. Quality of Content – The content on each page about your accounting firm services should be well organized and persuasive so the prospect can decide whether your accounting firm can address their issues and concerns. In addition to having great content on your website, you should also have a blog which enables you to create a following and become a trusted advisor.
7. Associations – Visitors to your website are looking for assurance that you can handle their needs competently. Many associations have logos and these logos should be strategically placed onto the corresponding pages. In other words, a CPA logo should probably be placed into the website header so it is on each page but logos like QuickBooks Pro Advisor should be on the page discussing QuickBooks accounting services. Other logos and acronyms to consider are NACVA, CVA, CFE, PFS, MTAX, EA, JD, MBA and Certified Tax Coach.
8. Video – Another technique to draw website visitors into your firm is the use of video. Some website visitors like video and others avoid it. A general rule is that you should make video optional and never ever play it automatically.
Are you looking ahead to 2016? Do you have the plans in place to dramatically grow your accounting practice?
If not, then you should consider a more comprehensive way to grow your accounting practice.
Learn why more accountants are using Build Your Firm to increase sales, operate at higher margins, and command a higher multiple when they sell.