In my experience most accountants would not describe themselves as rain makers. I’m sure many accountants have from time to time wished they could outsource their marketing to someone else. However, the smaller the accountancy firm the greater the need for every fee earner, junior or senior, to play their part in the business development activities of a firm.
In my view, business development is a team activity that every member of the accountancy practice (regardless of their size) should play a part in. I have yet to find a firm which gives everyone a target for business development activity – often marketing effort is expected to occur in employees and partner’s own time. In my research for my next book, ‘how to make partner and still have a life’ I am finding that if you want to make partner, then you better be good at winning new business! So why do so many accountancy practices expect their directors and senior managers to ‘magically’ be able to do business development. If you are given a very high billable hour’s target, how can you be expected to learn and experiment with differing business development activities?
Often business development is seen to be the glory end of marketing and selling, i.e. the writing of proposals, clinching deals and pitching for work. In reality business development activity is anything that contributes to winning new business; this is everything from generating interest and awareness in the firm’s products and services, through to the glory moments of winning a competitive pitch.
This could be:
- Networking – both face-to-face and on-line
- Writing articles
- Speaking engagements
- Organising and running seminars (both face-to-face and teleseminars)
- Conducting proprietary research
- Spending time with existing clients getting to know them better
- Market research
- Attending industry conferences to understand new needs within the industry
- Writing proposals
- Writing and delivering pitches
If you read through the list of non-chargeable activities which contribute to business development, there is something for every accountant to excel at. The true technical specialists within the firm may relish the opportunity to write articles and contribute to on-line forums – but would be like a duck out of water if asked to go in and ‘sell’ to a client. (You probably wouldn’t want them in front of a client ‘selling’ as well!) The ‘sellers’ may get bored rigid conducting proprietary research, but love the opportunity to go out face-to-face networking.
If you think about you and your accountancy practice, how have you divvied up your business development efforts between the whole team?