Managing Director Avery Martin Limited
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Handling incoming new client contacts

26th May 2017
Managing Director Avery Martin Limited
Columnist
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Lakeside Bolt hole
lakeside

Well the latest edition of my blog is brought to in HD from my lakeside bolt hole in a rather sunny Northumberland.

I say its in HD as after years battling for vision and trying all sorts from contact lenses to different types glasses I finally gave in and had laser surgery on my eyes yesterday. The results are really quite remarkable.

I had the op at 3.10pm yesterday and woke up today with full 20/20 vision, other than slight discomfort nothing to it. Another thing I probably should have done years ago.

Anyway as the wife has got me on light duties for the next week I thought I would knock out a quick blog having a few decking beers and some R & R. (My beer of choice tonight is a cheeky San Miguel with a zest twist, an ideal little number for barbecues and other fine based drinking activities).

Anyway my blog is about dealing with new client prospects. After much trial an error my marketing is starting to pay dividends. All marketing points to the website, then the leads either come in from web contact form or direct telephone call.

For the last 3 months I am currently receiving about 4/5 contacts per week. In the past I was not best organised and had phone numbers on Post-it notes and scribbled notes for new clients, but now I try and monitor where they are coming from and get more fuller details from them.

In the past I was probably converting 9/10 leads as I was just pricing less than current their guy but not anymore. Since introducing Senta it allows me to track and record leads better.

The current system I have in place works like this and I would be keen to hear what others do. I screen out maybe a third of clients at the initial contact stage; these are people wanting a cheap job, a quote to knock down current accountant or time wasters just wanting free advice. Their contacts go into the CRM for future.

Of what is left, I either meet them or go through their needs over phone or email. I will issue proposals to the remaining 2/3 of clients with a view to signing up half of those proposed to.

In April for instance I had 24 new client leads. I knocked seven of them out at initial contact stage. I issued 17 proposals, signed up nine as clients, and of the remaining proposals some are pondering, some have gone elsewhere and some you dont hear back from, which I find annoying.

So I am roughly converting a third of all prospects, which probably sound low to many of you. I am pushing on price a lot more and looking for the clients who pay north of £300 per month for their fees. The prospects I turn away are mostly sole traders which I am trying to stay away from unless they are of a size where they are employing five people say.

I am not so keen on the £300 taxi driver or plumber type client as I feel you will get bogged down with these come MTD. These guys will move to the next guy to save £50 on fees.

Also a lot of internet contact is low quality which is why you need to weed them out. I remember one of the first things the senior partner in the firm I trained with told me around pricing. He said that if the cleint agrees straight away, you are too low, if he walks off you are too expensive, but if he winces, says its more than he was expecting but pays, then that is the sweet spot. I guess it hard hitting the sweet spot every time, although I think I am getting better at it.

I am keen to see what sort of ratio others convert at. 

I would like to issue proposals more quickly and looking more professional. I use just a word template with a spec of the job offered attached to it.

I have looked at some of the software that is available but I think they are too pushy where you bang a proposal out to them to e-sign before they can have a chance to think about it. That's probably not for me.

I am happy with current numbers of referrals but would like to improve the quality, maybe.

I am working on some updates for the website which will hopefully improve contacts and that should be ready for maybe August time. I think I have barely scratched the surface of what is available from your website, and anyone starting out now should put what money they have into developing  a good site.

Now that I have inbound referrals working for me I want to start targetting clients more. I have a few agencies locally who send me all their new PSC clients these are great leads. I think I will contact a few more to build that relationship up, although I have found out the bigger contractor accountants pay quite a bounty to agencies to get the clients.

There are a few clients I have in my sites locally that I would like as clients as right type of business with good public profile and I am going to focus on trying to open a few doors with these guys.

Anyway my next batch of eye drops are due and I am low on beer so I am off, enjoy the holiday weekend.

Replies (3)

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By tom123
27th May 2017 18:29

Good picture - and well done with the eyes!

I've only had glasses these last five years - for reading/pc etc - but each time I get new ones they get a bit stronger.

Now at the stage where if I try and walk about with them on the floor moves. My staff rib me that I will need them on a chain round my neck soon - not a good look..

Enjoy the light duties.

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
29th May 2017 12:08

Hi Glenn

Nice spot – see you’ve got the party lights out ;o)

Wow – that’s a lot of leads, are they all from your website?

I have a very different approach, I’ve always tended to rely on recommendations. Over the past 5 years I’d say I’ve had around 15 new clients come from google/website searches.

I do agree that a lot of website enquiries are looking for a low price and I tend to get rid of these sharpish. I’m also increasingly picky – if they don’t current use or won’t start using Xero then they won’t become a client.

Client/contact recommendations will vary from warm to red hot and its very rare for these not to become clients. Keep clients happy and several of them will sing your praises. I have 4-5 in particular who are a good source of new prospects.

I probably have 4-5 enquiries on average per month (2-3 from google/website), of the one’s I want 9 out of 10 are usually converted.

For some that number of enquiries may appear very low but if I were to convert 2 of those and each has an average monthly fee of £200 then that’s an additional £57.6k of annualised fees each year.(Just checking back and I’ve taken on 17 new clients in the last 9 months, worth £36k in annual fees).

I’m happy with this, if I got an annual £20k increase in fees over the next 2-3 years I’d be very happy.

I agree that’s it usually too pushy to send out engagement paperwork either during the meeting or very shortly afterwards (wouldn’t be comfortable using the proposal software such as GoProposal). Sometimes client will ask for a price during a meeting, if I have my laptop with me I can quote (I use a spreadsheet template for fee quotes).

If I don’t quote in the meeting/phone call I send an e-mailed proposal either later the same day or next morning. If that’s accepted engagement paperwork is sent out.

I’ll keep a record of those prospects who don’t become clients and periodically I’ll email those that I would ‘like’ to become clients.

Thanks (1)
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By Lesser Tax
12th Jun 2017 08:05

Hi Glenn, good news on the eyes, I had them done about 3 years ago. All good with 20/20

We adopt a very similar approach to you in weeding out poor leads at enquiry stage and in terms of volume and conversion but we tend not to track conversion in the same way.

Would you recommend Senta? Do you input this yourself? How does your role split?

We don't currently adopt a CRM, although it's an interesting point whether a client enquiries more than once after say two years have passed.

Your PSC agency point by large contractor firms was new to me. Can you provide any more info on this?

Good work on the fees, food for thought.

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