8 Steps to Fill Your Sales Pipeline
by Heather Robinson, Marketing Manager
Many of the businesses that make up the client base of CPA firms are tightening budgets and putting projects on hold. So a question on the minds of many CPA firm leaders is how to find new growth opportunities virtually.
Developing new business virtually can be challenging without a strategy. At the recent Boomer Marketing and Business Development Circle, we shared a seven-step process that any firm can use to fill their sales pipeline – whether they’re working virtually or not.
Step 1: Assess your goals
One of our favorite saying at Boomer Consulting, Inc. is “all progress starts with the truth.” The first step in any initiative is to assess where you are now versus where you want to be.
Get specific about what you want to achieve. Do you want to onboard five new advisory clients this year? Successfully cross-sell a new service to ten clients? Quantifying your goal gives you something concrete to aim for, helps align and focus your team on a common goal, and allows you to work backward to build a strategy to achieve it.
Step 2: Anticipate potential services
Traditional accounting, tax and assurance services continue to be valuable revenue generators in firms, but advisory and consulting services are growing quickly. So the next step in filling our pipeline is to consider the problems our clients and prospects might have right now and what services we might deliver to solve those problems.
This step doesn’t require completely fleshing out a new service line; it’s simply pre-planning. You might take an informal survey of clients, have conversations with your team to find out what is and isn’t selling, or reflect on previous client conversations for ideas.
Step 3: Identify targets
Once you have an idea of possible services you might offer, create a client profile (also known as a buyer persona). Your client profile is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal client - their demographics, industry, motivations, goals, etc. The more detailed you are in creating this client profile, the better. Once you have an idea of who your ideal client is, you can either make a list of existing clients you believe would benefit from this new service, or determine that you need to acquire new clients.
Step 4: Schedule Calls
Reach out to the 20 prospects or existing clients you’ve identified and set up discovery calls with each of them. The scheduling can be delegated to your admin staff or a virtual assistant. Or you can even use technology to send your targets an email with a link to your calendar, and they can set-up the call through the online booking system.
Step 5: Conduct discovery calls
The purpose of the discovery call isn’t necessarily to sell your services. It’s to get a deeper understanding of your client or prospect’s needs and position yourself as a strategic advisor. Ask questions about their pain points and brainstorm how you can best help them.
Some of their needs or problems won’t have any connection to your firm or your services, and that’s okay. Whenever possible, try to connect them to the right resource and add value, even if it won’t result in revenue to you.
This call is more about gathering information than solving their problems, so feel free to end the call by telling them you want to take some time to think about the issues they’ve presented. Then schedule your next call.
Step 6: Conduct deep-dive calls
After thinking more about serving your clients and prospects, reconnect with a Deep Dive call. This is a chance to confirm that you understand their pain points, share your capabilities, and offer pricing options. If possible, take a team approach to these calls by looping in other members of your firm who have the skills and expertise to provide value.
Remember, clients like options, so present three packages – all of which offer value and give your client a path to success.
Step 7: Deliver the service(s)
Delivering advisory and consulting services virtually is a huge opportunity for your firm. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right! You may be rightfully nervous about delivering your first consulting engagement remotely and perhaps even question whether you can really provide value without being in the same room as your client, but you will gain confidence as you go along, so don’t give up.
There are so many tools on the market today that make delivering services virtually just as seamless as in-person. At Boomer Consulting, we use Zoom, Miro and PowerPoint but feel free to explore other options.
Step 8: Provide coaching and accountability
Many accountants cling to compliance services, thinking accounting and tax are ongoing while consulting consists of only one-off projects, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Some of the greatest value your clients will receive from your firm is ongoing coaching and accountability to reach the goals you help them create. Providing coaching and accountability supports their growth, keeps you top of mind, establishes trust, and makes growing your relationship easier.
When you can’t be onsite with your clients, the way you market your services to them must change. But it’s still possible to maintain a full sales pipeline.
Does you firm have a clear Growth strategy?
If you’d like more guidance in packaging, pricing and selling your services, our Growth Consulting can help. Schedule a call with one of our Solutions Advisors today so you can start converting prospects into clients and scaling your firm today.
As the Marketing Manager for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Heather’s primary focus is on developing the firm’s marketing strategy and brand awareness to help drive business results. She manages and executes marketing and business development initiatives, with daily oversight of the website, social media, and thought leadership content. In addition, as a part of the Business Development team, she provides leadership and strategic planning on marketing and communication practices for the firm.