This is the transcription of the interview between Patrick McLoughlin, the founder of Accounting for Growth (A4G), and Chris Martin, the Director of AVN Beyond Profit.
Beyond Profit was established in 1992 is a 1 Partner 6 person team based in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.
Targeting is Key to Accountants Marketing Success
Patrick: “Hello Chris, you've been working with Accounting For Growth for a while now, just wanted to find out what made you choose us in the first place?”
Chris: “We've used telemarketing companies before, for our accounting services, and we've not had an awful lot of joy with them. When we spoke to you it was clear that you were a different sort of firm. You were very focused on the type of clients that we were looking for and you took on board what we were asking for, rather than shoving us vast quantities of prospects that we weren't particularly interested or lots of contacts. It was very much the quality/type of client that we were looking for, so that was a different sort of approach.
I tend to think of telemarketing companies more like recruitment agencies and most accountants watching this will probably have the same sort of view of them as I do, which is they just throw every CV they have at you and you're supposed to sift through them.
Telemarketing companies tend to be the same, or my experience of them is that they put lots and lots of prospects your way, most of which are not the sort of people you're looking for. At the very beginning of the relationship we said what we are looking for and Accounting For Growth definitely took it on board, so we went from there.”
Patrick: “Now that we have finished the trial campaign, has Accounting For Growth delivered?”
Chris: “Absolutely, at the beginning of the campaign I think it's your normal practice to set a revenue target for us. Which obviously we look at thinking 'Of course that's going to happen.' And I'll tell you the numbers in case you've forgotten them. In our case it was in the first year you were going to generate £28,000 of new recurring fees for us. The year is coming to an end and we have generated £55,000, so far, of decent clients. The type of clients that we were looking for. You have almost exactly doubled what the prediction/target was. So on that basis we can't moan. It's been exactly what we would be looking for.
In terms of cost effectiveness, because as accountants watching this will know it's not just about revenue, it's about profit. Basically very £1 we spent with you, I think overall we generated approximately £4.10 income back. I won't do the percentages, because I'm not great at maths, but it's about 300% return, so we are absolutely delighted with the result.”
Patrick: “Why do you think it has worked?"
Chris: "I think fundamentally it is that you've taken on board what we wanted to present, what was special about us, what was different and that has come across during in the telemarketing and actual telephone calls. You actually presented what we wanted you to present. You took on board what was interesting about what we wanted you to say and you said it. Obviously over time it's been honed and crafted a bit. And so we are really being put in front of people who are our type of clients. We don't get them all, most of the ones we want we probably get and some of them we don't want. Some of them say nice things during telephone interviews, but the reality is slightly different.
In general we are seeing the type of clients that we would want as clients and it's because what is being said at the initial telephone call is what we agreed at the beginning. It's not about the number of meetings, it's about the quality of those meetings, the quality of the client that we are seeing.”
Patrick: “What would you say to accountants who would say telemarketing doesn't work?”
Chris: “Until a year ago I would have said 'absolutely right, it doesn't work, it's a load of rubbish!', because that is the experience for most of us. As I say, for most of us, it is like recruitment agencies. It's just numbers, a numbers game and we have to trawl through a heap of absolute rubbish to find the occasional good one.
With Accounting For Growth it has not been like that. Categorically not. We have seen decent client after decent client. There were a few dodgy ones, but we expect that.
I certainly think that at the beginning of the relationship you were absolutely open and honest and said, 'You should not be expecting to see more than 1 in 3 will be the type you'd be looking for.' and I thought because of the parameters we set up probably more 1 in 4 or 5, which is about right, it has worked out.
Because we understood that at the beginning, and it was out and open and it wasn't: 'You're going to get every single client you see. They're all going to be perfect.' it was all understood that that's not going to be the case.
The ones we have converted, the ones we've seen, have been just the perfect sort of client for us, so I categorically and unhesitatingly recommend Accounting For Growth to any accountant, or business, who wants to get more of the type of client they want, whatever their parameters are. I think the fact is: Accounting For Growth take that on board, create a script that works for you and use it. I think it is very much a bespoke and personal service. You've taken on board what I've said and used that. So yes, I unhesitatingly recommend you.”
Patrick: “That's great, thanks very much Chris.”
Chris: [Laughing]: “No problem, can I have my money now?”