Simply put, marketing accounting services consists of four steps:
- Informing as many people as possible of your existence
- Leading them to develop an interest in your services
- Persuading them to meet with you
- Move from client enquiry to client engagement
Here is a simple ten-point strategy for achieving these objectives:
Emphasise persuasion: Making people aware of your existence is fairly straightforward. It is largely a matter of advertising revenue. What takes skill is implementing the last three steps. Most firms ignore these and concentrate on the first.
Establish a niche: By establishing a unique marketing sector for your firm you are making your solution to the client’s problem or needs unique. If you are the only firm providing that solution, you will never need to discuss fees. Without a niche, your only option is compete on price.
Develop market credibility: To convince prospective clients to sign with your firm you need credibility in their area. You need to be able to demonstrate familiarity with their sector by showing you have a good track record in it. Inform prospects of other businesses in similar positions for which you already act, and convince them that you have the necessary expertise.
Don’t bore the prospect with detail: Accountants often try to convince prospects by talking in detail about the services they can provide. This is of little interest to the prospect. What they want to hear about are the benefits your firm will bring to them. This is what a good salesperson will emphasise. For your firm to excel in sales, staff sales training is essential.
Develop your prospecting skills: To build up a database of genuine prospects, you need to establish a coherent system for identifying them. You should identify target areas, begin a series of selected mailings to them, carefully monitor the results, and record these results on your database. Your long-term prospecting activity should focus on those who respond positively. As you gradually build up a profile of a prospect, you will be able to target him or her with a precisely focused sales strategy.
Research prospects before making specific proposals: Making a specific proposal is a critical stage in the sales process. It is essential that the solution you propose be tailored to the prospect’s specific needs. Get to know what the prospect has in mind, who is the real decision maker, what are the company goals, what are the individual’s goals, and who the competition is.
Present a flexible, but focused proposal: Once you are sure what the prospect is looking for, present your proposal by beginning with an analysis of the problems and outlining the possible solutions you can offer. Be clear about your fees for each option and discuss the various pros and cons with the prospect. However, from the beginning you should know about which of the options you would like to see implemented, and gradually steer the prospect in that direction in the course of your presentation.
Be sure to close the sale: At the conclusion of the presentation, ask the prospect directly if they agree that this proposal covers the points they wanted addressed. Obtain explicit agreement that he or she will run with your firm, and will engage you to implement a specific solution.
Be prepared to handle objections: Often the prospect will raise objections to your proposal, and you should be prepared with considered responses. For crucial meetings, it is a good idea to rehearse the encounter with a colleague beforehand. Have your colleague play devil’s advocate and throw objections at you. If you cannot give an immediate and convincing response, prepare one before you go to the meeting.
Maintain a positive attitude: A positive attitude is not shallow optimism, but a constructive outlook that enables you spontaneously to transform setbacks into opportunities. To win at sales you have to be doggedly positive in both your thoughts and actions.