Can telemarketing work for accountants?

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This is a subject that appears regularly in Any Answers.  I have attempted to collate and summarise the best tips and advice - including my own! explains Mark Lee.

1. Be clear as to what sort of leads you want

The key is to ensure that whoever is making the calls is briefed effectively. Before you or anyone else starts cold-calling on your behalf you need to be clear as to what makes your practice different, what criteria the target client needs to satisfy and what services you want to promote. Preparation is key here and can save you loads of time that will otherwise be wasted attending meetings that are a waste of time.

For example, are you after new businesses that have yet to appoint an accountant or established businesses who will need convincing that you could be better than their present accountant?

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13th Jun 2011 11:04

a very interesting article....
as I am a little cynical as to the real value of telemarketing. Afterall who wants a client who is happy to jump ship following a phone call....what kind of loyalty can you expect? - I think we all want the life spend of a business (or 5-10 years realistically) - not just 1 or 2 years. But you make some good points.....

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13th Jun 2011 12:44

It works, but...

@Mark - great article and I would add that there are two broadly two approaches; hope or strategic. One should be called telesales because it is a numbers game, the other is telemarketing.

There is a lot of negativity and preconceptions about telemarketing, mainly because so many businesses do it wrong. But, it does work, it just doesn’t works as well as it used to. Today you really need a better strategy than making 100 calls a day.

Readers may be interested to know that a survey of buyers of professional services found 39% were very likely or somewhat likely to initially identity and learn more about potential providers through a phone call. 

My rule of thumb is to use telemarketing after researching the market and only when there is a specialism to be offered. Ideally the fee and lifetime value needs to be worthwhile. So, if you act for sole-traders and charge £200 a year telemarketing may not look as viable tactic compared to £20,000 a year for a complete outsourced service.

Expecting too much is a reason why many accountants say telemarketing doesn’t work; if you can get one or two leads a day that should be regarded as a good day. And, you need a voicemail strategy because so many people are not available. I suggest 3-5 planned messages.

It helps if you have a process. I suggest the objective of the first call is to book a follow up call. The purpose of the follow up call is to book a meeting. The objective of the first meeting is to get a second meeting. The objective of the second meeting is to sign the client up.

This way all the sales pressure is off and like Mark says there can be other steps along the way.

Fundamentally, telemarketing should be paid for on a results basis. I recommend a project fee to hold the accountant accountable plus payments on results which will be meetings and sales.

Also, firms should understand that the full results of telemarketing will not be know for two years. This assumes email address obtained from calls where prospects are not ready for a meeting are used in email marketing.

Bob Harper

Accountants Websites 

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14th Jun 2011 12:44

I would agree it works, but...

... if you have one or two practices in a location telemarketing (or any mas marketing campaign) then they can easily meet their capive audience and initially get in the door. If you have say twenty practices all telemarketing, in my view, the message is always lost and it is difficult to get in the door initially. It therefore dilutes the benefits of having that campaign.

For me, as an accountant, the same goes with tweeting/facebook, etc. If you have a niche market you may be able to do this, but if you have a general forum and there are say twenty other accountants in your area doing the same, you message is evdiently diluted with all the others and the time may outweigh the costs.

For me knowing when and where to telemarket is key to a successful campaign (I have built up a nice little practice from mailshot campaign) and based on what I am being told by my clients (I have only lost 2 clients in last 18 months and hope that this will remain low) there are far too many accountants telemarketing/mailshotting within the Chesterfield area and as businesses my clients are fed up with the time being wasted on such phone calls. This is good for me as I get to see some of the mailshot letters. Therefore perhaps the timing of any marketing campaign is more important than the message coming accross in that campaign.

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14th Jun 2011 12:48

Bob Harpers point on a 2 year period for calculating success

I can agree, in the past I have had potential clients phone me and start by stating that they received my marketing letter, only to find out that I sent it out some 24 months ago. Always a good phonecall to have to pick you day up.

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By Robjoy
14th Jun 2011 14:18


How can I think of using telemarketing (or telesales, or any kind of cold-calling) when I hate being on the receiving end so much? There is so much bad telemarketing around I am liable to just switch off and say 'Not interested, goodbye' before I have even a vague idea what I'm being sold. On the odd occasion someone gets through my brain fog it really makes me cross to have someone try to sell me payroll outsourcing (2 man business), bookkeeping services (it's what I do!) or fleet management (2 cars!).

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17th Jan 2012 20:39

For what its worth...

I've found a fantastic firm of telemarketers -

I'm currently enjoying a 300% ROI and 50% appointment success rate.

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07th Mar 2013 21:48

The comments suggest telemarketing works for some firms, but not others. From my experience, of running telemarketing campaigns for accountants, those that fail often fail for the same reasons.

To help firms decide if telemarketing was right for them I wrote a free guide It warns firms of what to expect and describes the skills and resources needed to make a success of it.  

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By hham12
04th Jul 2016 15:56

Hi Mark,

Very interesting article before reading this, I was under impression that telemarketing doesn't work for accountants.

Do you think the meeting (if taken place after a successful telemarketing campaign) be at accountants' address or the prospective client address?

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