Tactics and Tools for Getting New Engagements
I’m not going to write about CPA firm marketing or, for that matter, any professional services marketing issue today.
Instead, I want to discuss good ol’ fashioned sales and what it takes to get from an inquiry or referral to a signed contact. This post isn’t about the hottest marketing trends or statistics from the most recent survey of marketing practices … it’s about what partners need to have in their toolkits to close more sales at a faster pace.
If you’re a managing partner, owner, or on your firm’s Executive Committee, do you know what your firm’s sales KPIs are? The next hot trend for 2017 that I hope to see is firms that really understand how efficient and productive they are in sales... firms that identify deficiencies and then create sales programs that result in a new topline revenue records for 2017.
Check out this blog post by LeadG2’s Managing Partner, Matt Sunshine, who has helped thousands of professionals do a better job at selling: The 4 Most Important Key Performance Indicators for Sales Managers.
Let’s Start at the End of Your Prospect’s Buyer’s Journey
Are you familiar with the concept of the buyer’s journey?
It’s pretty simple to grasp: it basically states that when your prospects are facing a need, issue, pain, or change they need to address, they:
- March toward a solution by exploring the issue (mostly online via search). This is also known as the awareness stage.
- Start considering different strategies, approaches, and tactics that will provide a solution. This is known as the consideration stage.
- Find the right CPA, consultant, attorney, or consultancy to help them solve their problem, or decide to execute the solution without outside resources. This is known as the decision stage.
It’s highly likely that most of your marketing and new business activity is focused on the decision stage.
That’s where referrals come in, when word of mouth generates over the transom phone inquiries, and when your search engine optimization strategy (and investment) pays off as a prospect searches for someone who can solve a problem.
It’s where your mentors and firm's ancestors taught you to focus your new business efforts, giving generations of professional service firm marketers off-the-chart levels of angst.
It’s where your partners are most comfortable, because the decision stage is more akin to taking an order than doing the hardcore marketing it takes to get a prospect through the awareness and consideration stages.
It represents an affirmation of your firm and the personal brands of the partners.
It’s where the least amount of investment in new business is made or needs to be made.
The Impact of Closing 10% More Sales Opportunities Next Year
I’d like you to think for a second about the boost to your top line if you closed more sales. Of course, you would need to precisely know what your close rate across all lead sources is right now, but perhaps a back-of-the-napkin exercise will suffice.
Let’s take the case of a hypothetical firm that gets 100 new business opportunities at the decision stage of the buyer’s journey when it climbs from a close rate of 35% to 45%:
Not too shabby, eh?
Let’s talk about what you need to have in order to get that bump.
Tools, Tactics, and Technologies for the Decision Stage of Your Buyer’s Journey
Earlier, I stated that the least amount of marketing and sales budget needs to be directed toward the decision stage. However, please heed this word of caution: this DOES NOT mean that no investment needs to made.
At this stage of the buyer’s journey, we’ve gone well past educating prospects about issues or approaches to solving those issues. Now, we’re in the trenches, possibly battling competitors, and trying like crazy not to get trapped in a pricing battle. The decision phase is the right time and right place to talk about the firm and how and why you’re better than any competitor or do-it-yourself solution.
Here’s a list of a dozen pieces of infrastructure you must have in order to close more sales, faster.
- Case studies
- Competitive differentiators
- Customizable proposal template(s)
- Email templates
- FAQ sheet
- Product spec sheet
- Product/service descriptions (sell sheet)
- Response Talk Track to overcome common Objections
- Sales coaching/training
- Testimonial statements
- Trail of prospect’s digital interactions (i.e. CRM timeline)
Putting these items into play during the awareness or consideration stages is not considered to be a best practice, and the complaint I often hear about not wanting to be “too salesy” is directly a function of putting these into play before their time.
Smarter Spending of Your New Business Budget
I would like to see more professional service firms making tough decisions about how to split their total new business budgets between marketing and sales. If 80% or more of new business is generated via referrals and word of mouth, doesn’t it make sense to identify missing sales infrastructure and prioritize budget spending there?
If 80% or more of new business is generated via referrals and word of mouth, doesn’t it make sense to use marketing department resources to help with sales enablement and closing more so than branding activities?
Doesn’t it make more sense to keep a laser focus on sales KPIs, because improving a sales KPI will have measurably more impact on the top line than making an improvement to a marketing KPI?
And last but not least, what shareholder doesn’t want to see a more of a direct correlation between budget and sales results?
If you want to discuss making improvements to your firm’s sales processes, tools, technologies, or tactics, please give me a call at (585) 750-8258 or connect with us here. LeadG2’s DNA is sales, and we have a wide variety of ways to help you boost your firm’s sales performance, from business development talent acquisition to sales enablement services.