Moving the Sagars brand to the cloud: True to our culture

Digital
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Victoria Goff tells Richard Sergeant how long-term relationships can adapt to a digital world, without compromising the core values of personal service. 

For Victoria Goff, Marketing Manager for Leeds-based Sagars, the transition to digital has only strengthened relationships at the heart of their business. “We are an independent, with an office in the city, but our clients now are feasibly anywhere. We can Skype and still maintain personal relationships. Previously we did have clients abroad and all over the country but feel better placed to help them now.”
 
The personal approach is of particular importance to the firm. “Awards proved our competence and technical ability,” she says, “but as a firm we pride ourselves on long-term relationships. Some of these have been very long. It’s good for clients, as our team stay with us a long time.”

Adapting values to digital channels

For Goff, this emphasis on service needs to be reconciled with a rapidly evolving business landscape. “If you don't change, you become stale and you can’t be certain that you’ll meet the expectations of clients. And this really does change over time, if we don’t adapt and change then we’ll just stagnate.”

Rather than contradicting the need to change, however, Goff’s desire to preserve long-term relationships offers a strategy to help navigate innovation. “Our proposition is that now we are digital and we are trying to steam ahead and show we are making ourselves fit for the modern world – digital but very much personal.  We still need to stay true to our culture and way of doing things.”

As working with clients has evolved to include more servicing in the cloud, marketing has also become increasingly digital. “Social media is another way of extending these relationships” says Goff. “The kinds of clients that warm to cloud accounting will expect to see us on social media. All of our team are on LinkedIn, and we trust them to be having relevant conversations. Building their personal network is an advantage to them and Sagars, so we encourage them to connect.”

Digital offers customer efficiencies

The transition to digital has also made its way to how the firm wants to handle key processes, with the move towards more automation in sales and onboarding:

“We are using technology to revolutionise our proposal writing – it’s a part of the marketing process, the conversion process. We’re looking at another way of doing it that is digital, personal, and quicker – so we’re looking at producing quotes quickly. We need to get the IT right, and training. Digitising the whole process creates consistency and efficiencies.”

QBO and Xero driving referrals

Goff says that most of the business comes from face-to-face events and referrals. “Until recently, our whole strategy has been about supporting referral networks. But now, because of digital marketing, we are also looking at other routes, we’ve had to sharpen up our approaches.”

‘Referrals’ are increasingly coming from vendor directories, which has led them to rethink their website in line with their philosophy of the personal: 

“It now has a dedicated QBO landing page, with videos to show what we look like. The website is now working harder for us. It is still a conversion tool, but the difference is that users are being driven there by QBO and Xero.”

Joined-up digital business

This is a narrative that leads from adapting core company values to digital channels, and then recognising how the cloud can benefit key servicing and processes. According to Goff, they are keen to make sure this permeates through to the sales cycle as well:

“Our digital marketing is personal” she explains. “Video as a format is good because it is focusing on real people and allows us to be very personal. We’re even thinking of having personalised video embedded in our proposals. These would talk about what we chatted about, and direct you to the link for the proposal.”

Victoria’s tip for embracing innovation

“Just have a go, just do it. Some firms are slowed down by the bureaucracy and the partnership structure, but be receptive to the new opportunities and technologies available. Delivering service to clients now means focusing on the way you attract and maintain relationships.”

About Richard Sergeant

Richard Sergeant

Specialist insight and business development support for accountants and their vendors. Cloud advocate with a pragmatist eye.

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