Marketing your new practice is one thing, but helping identified prospects to agree to become clients requires different skills, writes Mark Lee.
In an ideal world, you would simply tell people that you are open for business and your ideal prospects would then find you and ask to become your clients.
Life isn’t like that. Even when these people do find out about your practice you need to have a process which brings them onboard as clients. Traditionally known as ‘closing the sale’ this is quite distinct from your marketing and business development activity.
But this is the place to start. If your marketing is attracting the wrong type of prospects you may never be able to close them. Instead you need to reconsider what you are saying and where you are promoting your marketing messages.
If you are seeing the right sort of people but they don’t become clients you need to consider why this is the case - even if it seems to be about fees often this is not the real issue.
A few months ago I interviewed Marcus Cauchi for AccountingWEB. He shared some robust views about what stops accountants selling more effectively, which criticised accountants who discount their fees to close the sale. He also suggested it’s a mistake to answer prospects’ questions without first qualifying what’s prompting each question.
What does ‘closing the sale’ mean?
None of us like to think that we are in ‘sales’, so perish the thought that we might ever come across as a pushy sales person.
In the context of this article ‘closing the sale’ means advancing the sales process to secure absolute confirmation from the prospect that they are appointing you as their new accountant. This isn’t when they first agree to do do so – it’s when they sign your letter of engagement and confirm payment of your fees. Until that point the ‘sale’ has not been completed or ‘closed’.
Before you close the sale
Every time you have a conversation with a prospective client you need to ensure that you are both clear as to what happens next. Will you send some information? Will they visit the FAQs or testimonials page of your website? When will you speak again?
Equally it is during preliminary conversations that you will want to help the prospect to realise why they should...
About Mark Lee
Mark Lee works almost exclusively with savvy sole practitioners who want more out of their practice. More clients, more money, more time, more satisfaction - or everything!
An accountant by profession, Mark moved away from the provision of professional advice in 2006. He is now a professional speaker, mentor, facilitator, author and debunker.
Mark Lee is a realist and regularly debunks myths and hype related to his areas of interest and expertise. His keynote talk for audiences of accountants is How to STAND OUT and be more than 'just another accountant'.
Mark is passionate about helping accountants generally so is a keen blogger and commentator in the accounting and tax press. He is consultant practice editor of AccountingWEB and has written hudnreds of articles here that have been viewed over a million times.
Check out how he could help you here: www.BookMarkLee.co.uk/savvy
Mark stopped giving tax advice himself despite being a past Chairman of the Chartered Accountants’ Tax Faculty. He is however Chairman of the Tax Advice Network - the UK's highest ranked lead generation website for tax advisers and accountants. The network also publishes a weekly practical tax update for accountants in general practice and full tax support, on demand too. You can also use it as a lead generation resource for local people seeking tax advice from an accountant.