Maintaining a steady flow of opportunities

For many accountants the recession has given them a wake-up call to crack on
with more business development and selling. During the downturn I was often
asked about the most effective process of targeting potential clients, and what
could be used to engage a contact’s interest.

I’ve seen a number of things work well for accountants. The best ones
resonated with the recipient and touched on something they were currently
facing. This didn’t come from the accountant having a lucky break; rather it
came from them investing time to research the potential client and select
something that “pressed all the right buttons”.

The targeted approaches that put potential clients off are those that have
‘selling’ all over them. These include brochures, leaflets and articles that
point decidedly one way – to your firm. Instead, the content of your approach
should focus on the client and contain advice, tips and sources of information
which could them help.

Done well, your targeted approach should help you too. It should warm up the
client so, when you call to follow up, they are happy to speak with you. It
should also help you get into a good conversation with them – one which will
assist you to propose a meeting to talk further. And it should convince the
client that you and your firm are worth investing their time with.

So here are some examples of targeted approaches I’ve seen work.

* Invitations to seminars on topics that are at the forefront of the client’s
agenda. Alternatively, you could send them some information on that subject in a
hard copy format or via an email alert and follow up.

* Offers of training for them and members of their team.

* Sharing relevant research findings with them.

* Seeking interest and involvement in one of your firm’s initiatives, such as
a round table discussion groups, or industry survey.

* Offers to introduce them to relevant contacts that could be useful to them
(eg. clients of yours or others in your network).

The key to whatever collateral you use in your approach is to make it as
tailored to the potential client as possible. The more relevant it is to them,
the more you and your firm will stand out from other who are sending blanket
“cover all” communication.

John Timperley is managing director of The Results Consultancy

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