As firms continue to move up the continuum of value and focus not only on compliance work but also on their clients' performance and strategy, the firm's service offerings are becoming more complex. Firms are now delivering more services than ever, and they must consider the best ways to position themselves in the marketplace. They need to focus on attracting new business and ensure it's the business they want. The number one way of doing this is by aligning their marketing and sales strategies. If these two crucial areas are not aligned, you leave opportunities and income on the table.
The following five tips will provide a great starting point to bring your team together to focus on developing your firm's business.
Develop a Strategic Plan
If your team does not have a strategic plan, and specifically an area focused on the growth of your business, then you leave a lot of opportunities on the table. This plan should focus on the next year and what you hope to accomplish.
Your strategic objectives might include launching new services, growing current services, updating the messaging of your company, packaging services or even discussing the possibility of off-boarding certain types of clients. The key is that the plan provides your team with the road map of initiatives they need to support. After all, how will employees know that you want to launch a new service or update the messaging if it's not thought out, written down and communicated?
Set Revenue Goals
How will your business development team know what to focus on (and what not to focus on) if they don't have revenue goals to strive for? By setting specific revenue goals for your various services and packages, you continue to clarify where your team will focus their marketing and sales efforts.
For our step-by-step process for setting revenue goals, check out my previous article, 8 Steps for Setting Revenue Goals.
Develop a Business Development Map
Now that you have your strategic plan and revenue goals, it's time for your business development team to create a map that will help to focus on the best ways to support your strategy with marketing and sales efforts. This map will help to clarify when your marketing team should be marketing certain services throughout the year and when your sales team should be prospecting certain services.
Most of the time, your marketing will get the message of your services out before when your sales team will focus on those services. Having your map set up like this will allow the marketing efforts to help fill the pipeline with the right prospects for your sales team. This map will also help to identify the types of efforts you have going on throughout the year. Some of it might be through social media, SEO, marketing campaigns, your content strategy, etc.
If you're interested in building a business development map, you can read my article The Importance of a Marketing and Business Development Map.
Review Messaging and Target Clients Yearly
Now that you have your map determined for when you will focus on each of your services from a marketing and sales standpoint, you are ready to think about the types of clients you will target and the messaging you use to do that.
Having your marketing and sales team work together to develop the messaging for your services is key. Marketing knows the formulas to follow to convey your service offerings, but your sales team is talking to clients and prospects. They see the whole picture of why your clients and prospects buy, what they are looking for and how your services fulfill their needs. These two areas will help clarify the message and attract the right prospects.
It's also important to review your target clients each year. Your target clients are defined by a list of attributes of what your team would consider the perfect client. This helps marketing know:
whom to focus on with the messaging your team created
where to market your services and how
who your sales should be proactively prospecting—the key prospects you know you want to work with but aren't yet
Your entire business development team must communicate regularly—from your Chief Growth Officer to your Marketing Manager to the rainmakers in your firm. This will help ensure that everyone stays aligned with your Strategic Plan, revenue is being looked at regularly, and your business development initiatives have built-in accountability.
I recommend that your business development team meets for one hour, once a month for regular check-ins. These check-ins will allow your team the time and space to ask questions, gain clarity on initiatives, proactively bring up any concerns and keep your firm's goals in mind. I also suggest they commit to a half-day, quarterly meeting focused on strategy for the upcoming quarter. These strategy sessions will focus on the bigger initiatives and projects your team has been working on and any new ones they need to start working on to push your overall strategy forward.
I hope these tips help your team see how marketing and sales cannot be done separately and understand it's essential to work together to support your firm's overall growth and goals. The only way for this to be successful is to have the right team that is open to collaboration, learning as they go, supporting everyone's individual efforts and having the full support of firm leadership. A huge bonus is if you have a business development team that can learn to have fun together.
Do you want to fast-track your firm's success in the areas of marketing and business development?
The Boomer Marketing & Business Development Circle is a peer group of top marketing and business development leaders in the accounting profession who are committed to aligning marketing and business development initiatives with firm strategy. Apply now to get plugged into the Circle and start growing your firm.
As the Solutions Manager for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Deanna works to help clients and prospective clients identify their dangers, opportunities and strengths. Once these are identified, she works to develop a personalized game plan for their firm to focus on the area, or areas, they need to improve on most. These areas are critical to a firm’s success and future-readiness; Leadership, Talent, Technology, Process and Growth.