Accountants Marketing: 5 Tips to Convert More Proposals
You have just walked out of the second meeting with your prospective new client. You have presented your proposal and they have told you they are impressed.
They explain, naturally enough, that they would like to think about it and they will get back to you. You get into your car thinking the client is in the bag. But now it’s a month later, and you have not heard a word. Worse still, they have not even returned you calls.
If you attend regular meetings with target clients, you will be familiar with this scenario. The 5 points below will make a dramatic difference to your conversion rates:
Different prospects have different priorities
1) The Proposal
Always present your proposal face to face, during your second meeting. The first meeting is all about listening and understanding their situation and needs. However tempting, do not advise or discuss fees during the initial appointment.
Make sure all the decision makers attend the proposal meeting. If they won’t agree to the meeting, find out why. Ultimately, if you have to, present the proposal in an online meeting. That way they get to see your computer desktop as you talk through the details.
To maximise your conversion rate you must control the follow-up. So please, as mentioned last week, never end a proposal with ‘and I look forward to hearing from you.’
Before you leave the meeting ask: “When will you be in a position to give me your decision?” You are not being pushy. You are just being professional
Then agree a time and date to contact them for their decision. When you get back to the office send them a letter thanking them for the meeting and confirming when you will get back in touch to hear their decision. If you want to create more impact, send a hand written thank you card instead, confirming the follow-up activity agreed.
24 hours before the follow-up call is due, email them a reminder. Let the decision maker know that as promised, you will be calling them at the agreed time for their decision.
There is a lot of skill and preparation involved in making follow-up calls. At A4G we don’t allow our account managers to follow-up until they have been with us for at least 6-months. Even then, they have to work through a lengthy training program before reaching for the phone.
So before you pick the phone up, plan exactly how you are going to start the call. Needless to say, demonstrate your reliability, by always calling on time. Don’t even be a couple of minutes late.
If you are still chasing a decision after repeated telephone calls this advice is critical to your success:
DO – Start the call by introducing yourself with your full name and company name. Remind them of what prompted your meeting: why they were interested in seeing you in the first place:
Hi David. It’s (your full name) from (firm name). You asked me to give you a call now. We met back in May because you were concerned about the lack of tax advice from your current advisers….
DO NOT – Remind them why they couldn’t give you a decision. This might sound ridiculous but it’s an easy trap to fall into:
“You asked me to call now, the last time we spoke you needed a couple of months to make a decision.” All you are doing is giving them a ready-made reason to put you off again. Typically they will repeat the detail back to you asking for a call in another couple of months.
5) Keeping In Touch
Whilst some people find it hard to say no, others just need time to say yes. Do not dismiss opportunities because they can’t make their mind up. Don’t hassle or harass them either.
And, please don’t call up and say anything remotely similar to “Just touching base or keeping in touch.” How does the prospect benefit from a call like that?
As is often the case with accountants marketing, the major issue is trust and credibility. If the prospect hasn’t been referred to you, (no trust transferred) you have to demonstrate your worth. There are two great ways to do this:
A) Pack your website with quality helpful content. I am not talking about budget reviews or content written by accountants for accountants. We need practical helpful advice (white papers, special reports, webinars etc) addressing the issues (pains and potential gains) confronting your ideal clients.
A quality blog, emailed to your prospects, is a good start. Again don’t think that bought in general content does the job. Trust and credibility are built through helpful, supportive, relevant content.
B) Keep your eyes open. I have a client who is excellent at this. He makes good notes on the issues that interest his prospects. He then scours the business pages and the web looking for any interesting, helpful stories.
A couple of months ago he was contacted by a prospect he met 18-months previously. The company, a firm of stationary suppliers, called him to accept the proposal after receiving his latest email. All he had done was forward on a marketing email from a rival stationary company with a short note “Have you seen how this firm is using email marketing?” It was only the latest note of many he had sent on to them. His persistence paid off.
Winning new business is not ‘a piece of cake.’ It takes patience and requires skills that take years to hone. The sooner you dedicate yourself to growing your fee base, the quicker your investment will pay off.