There is no “one” form of marketing that you need to do to grow your accounting firm. As long as you have the “Relationships First, Sales Second™” approach to marketing, the channels you choose to build these relationships don’t matter as long as it works.
This is the key though. Your marketing has to work.
Let me give you a quick overview of the marketing activity you could be doing in your firm using the seeds, nets and spears approach:
Seeds – these are seeds you have sown through networking that will grow over time and result in clients if you nurture the relationship.
Nets – this is your Inbound Marketing (content marketing, PPC, Facebook advertising)
Spears – this is where you actively connect with ideal clients, think Telemarketing.
Once upon a time if you were Seed marketing it was enough to go to the pub or golf course to build the relationship. Net marketing would have included the Yellow Pages and billboard advertising. Spear marketing was, and still is, telemarketing/cold calling. Because the competition was less fierce Spear marketing used to be more fruitful, and people were less wary.
However, Telemarketing (Spear Marketing) is still a great way to get clients, and shouldn’t be overlooked. As long as it is from a “Relationships First, Sales Second™” approach.
I am writing this article because one of accounting firm clients isn’t having much luck with their Telesales Agency. Whilst the agency are booking appointments, the calls or meetings are resulting in no-shows or cancellations.
This is both frustrating for our client, and not good practice for the telesales firm, as my client is looking to cancel what they are doing.
With a little bit of planning and preparation, there is a way to overcome/minimise the problem of no-shows and cancellations. This is where content marketing can have a huge impact on your efforts.
Content marketing, simply put, is marketing where you provide relevant, interesting and valuable information to your business prospects.
Content marketing done well can become a valuable asset to your firm. Content marketing can be in the form of the written word – articles/blogs. It can be audio – think podcast. It can be video – think YouTube channel.
Whilst many approach telemarketing as a sole entity, if you can merge content with telemarketing you start to build relationships with these potential clients before you even get on the phone. By creating a telemarketing campaign your efforts will be rewarded in the form of clients and a great reputation.
Now let’s dive on in and map out a suggested Telesales/Content Campaign.
The Traditional Telesales Way
1) Buy list
2) Pick up phone and call ideal prospect (assuming list is targeted)
3) Get 100 no’s and 1 yes to a meeting
4) Send email/letter confirming appointment
5) Confirm meeting via phone call day/morning before
6) Meeting cancels (most of the time)
7) Phone more prospects
8) Get 100 no’s…
… and so on.
The problem with the above way to approach telemarketing is that it is all about the sale. Before the prospect gets their first call from you they have never heard from you.
When it comes to having the meeting, because there is no relationship between you and the prospect, they cancel because something else more important comes up.
Telesales appointments are always bottom of the to-do pile. Think about it, if someone booked a telesales call with you, and you got busy or your wife called, the telesales person would get cancelled.
But the good news is, if someone feels they have a relationship with you, however small or new, he or she will be more inclined to keep the appointment.
Before I share a solution with you we need to get something clear. If it was easy to grow your business and get clients using telesales everyone would do it. Whilst the most ideal situation would be for the telesales firm to book appointments and not have any input from you, realistically this will not work.
Spear marketing (Telesales) will only work if you (or one of your team) join in the conversation once the initial appointment has been set.
What would a “Relationship First, Sales Second™” approach to Telesales look like?
Buy the list. Make sure you have a clear target market and that they can afford your services. As some accounting services are highly commoditised you need to be aiming to work with people who do not buy on price. Therefore, you are looking to work with people who appreciate you advisory services/specialist services.
Alternatively, if you have specialism you will need to buy a list based on your specialism. If solicitors are your ideal client, buy a list of solicitors.
Start with a list of 200-500 people not 10,000.
GETTING THEM TO SHOW UP
Options (Pick one or all of the below):
- This is where most firms slip up, they go in for a Kill (call) without having “Relationship First, Sales Second™” mentality. If a little bit of time can be spent on building a relationship then getting someone to have an Introduction Call with you will save you a lot of time and effort:
- For example, the list of 500 businesses can probably be found using LinkedIn. Before any cold calls are made, if connections are added on LinkedIn and an intro email sent on LinkedIn to then say you will be giving them a call the cold call is no longer as cold as ice.
- Follow the business on Twitter and retweet a couple of their tweets and send them a tweet to say “hi”. THEN give them a call to introduce yourself.
- Get their email address (or email them through their website if they are a smaller business) suggesting a telephone call and introduce yourself. This way you can call up and say “Hi I sent you an message through your website, have you got a minute or shall I call back?”
- Follow their business on Facebook and send a message from your firms Facebook Page to introduce yourselves.
If you have chosen none or all of the above the next stage is to make the call. You make the call and you get through to someone. At this stage, you do not want to book a long meeting. What you do want to do is book the next call (Introduction Call) which is only a 10-minute call. This call will be done by one of your in-house team, not you.
Their mission on this 10-minute Introduction Call is to see if the prospect has a need/frustration/want which your firm can advise on. It will be a quick call and the aim is to qualify whether or not they are worth booking a longer call (Discovery Session) with you the Partner, or a Key Account Handler.
MOVING THEM ONTO THE NEXT CALL
If, in an Introduction Call they qualify for another call, that’s when you book in the Discovery Session at least 48 hours in the future.
Before the Discovery Session, you need to do two things.
1) Send a video from the Partner that is having the call saying “Hello, looking forward to our call, at the bottom of this video are two documents that we would like you to read so you can see how we work. If after reading these documents you wish to cancel our call, please do so”.
This video is pre-recorded and although it will be generic it will seem very personal. This interaction with you will enable them to feel like they know you. This will help the show up rate.
2) The two documents that they have to read are based on two questions that every prospect will have:
Why You and How Much?
These two documents should outline what differentiates your firm and your methods/processes.
First, (for example) you talk about Trusted Advisor or Management Accounts if they are applicable.
Second you talk about investment with you. That way prospects have a clear understanding of how much they need to invest with you, and also if they can afford your services.
What we really want to do at this stage is eliminate the tyre kickers.
The day before your call/meeting you send an email asking them if they have watched the video/read the documents. If they have not you need to postpone the meeting until they do so.
At this point you might be asking me “What?! Why would I want to do that?” My answer is thus:
You do not want to work with people who do not value your services. Whilst it may be nice to have a diary full of appointments, what is the point if they are not A Grade Clients. An A grade client will skim read a document and listen to a two-minute video. Someone who is likely to cancel or not show up to the call will ignore your video.
If they have watched the video and read the documents you are good to go. This is where you go on to have the Discovery Session, which you will be more than happy to have knowing that they are a very well qualified lead. I will discuss how to have a Discovery Session in a different article
Step Nine After the call/meeting you send a more personalised video or email. This video/email will thank them for the call/meeting and recap on what you discussed. We are assuming at this stage that you have either a) got an agreement to work with you or b) booked the next meeting already. Step Ten Sign them up, or put them onto your nurture list. Remember they came to you from a cold call, so the chances of them signing up with you straight away are slim. For this reason, you need to provide interesting and valuable content to them over the coming months to position you as the expert. When they are ready, they will know to move their accounting needs to your firm.
I Am Paying For Telesales To Do It For Me And I Don’t Have The Time
As our whole ethos is Relationship First, Sales Second™ you cannot outsource the building of relationships with prospects. You need the cold lead to get to know you as quickly as possible so they WANT to have a meeting with you. This will not happen unless you start to build the relationship before the initial call. It is also important to have the right clients. This process eliminates the tyre kickers. As with all your marketing you want it to yield a high ROI. This is more likely to happen if you spend time building relationships, rather than throwing mud and hoping some of it will stick.
Whilst these 10 steps are not set in stone, they are an example of how you can enhance your cold calling to actually yield results. What is the point in spending thousands of pounds to have booked meetings that either get cancelled or have no shows? Tthe above steps will take some work and thought, but you will yield a far better return on investment through this strategic and process-driven way of telesales – all backed up with content marketing. You may read this article and think it is too much work. However, if you create content that can be leveraged time and time again, it will simply be a matter of setting once and then pressing a send button when a call is booked.
P.S. When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you with marketing and growing your accounting practice:
1. Grab free copy of my book
It’s the roadmap to attracting better prospects, signing higher value clients and scaling your accounting firm. – Click Here
2. Take the test.
It will benchmark your firms ability to effortlessly attract, connect with & convert high value clients using the Pioneering Practice Scorecard. – Click here
3. Join the tribe and connect with firms who are growing too.
It’s our new Facebook community where ambitious founders, owners, and partners learn to attract better prospects, sign higher value clients and scale their accounting firm. – Click here