Who you gonna call?

Many accountants often grumble that August is a tough time for getting hold
of prospective clients. Some steer clear of business development altogether
during that month. September holds no excuses and, with prospective clients
invariably back at their desks, there’s often a temptation to ramp up the sales
effort. But think for a moment. What’s happening in your firm is being
replicated in others across the country. As a result potential clients’ phones
are often switched to voicemail, email campaigns go unopened and individuals
remain as elusive as ever.

Prospective clients will accept the calls of those a) they know and like, or
b) who’ve made a positive impression in some way. Cold calling rarely creates
such an impression. So take a step back. Think of ways in which to warm up the
client to take your call. What could help you forge a good impression in their
mind? Try these:

1. Research your contact and examine what’s been going on in their
organisation/business? What key issues are they’re facing?

2. Send them something helpful which addresses these. It shouldn’t be a sales
document, brochure or a blatant promotion of your services. Send something that
gives direct insight and guidance. Don’t forget to introduce your firm
succinctly in the accompanying letter or note and suggest that you’ll call to
see how they found the material. Make that call in the timeframe promised.

3. Alternatively, check if any other contacts in your network could put in a
good word and broker a time for you to ring.

And don’t give up if you don’t get through first time. People may genuinely
be away from their desk. Rather than hounding an individual, see if you can get
an indication from the person answering their phone, or even the voicemail
message, when would be a good time to call back.

It’s also likely that your diary is starting to fill up with networking
events. Always follow up the contacts you meet at these and do this promptly –
say within two days or whenever you agreed to. Use the follow up to give
something of value (intelligence, information, help etc). This will help
strengthen the rapport you’ve started to build and motivate the contact to take
your future calls and in time give you business. Keep in touch.

John Timperley is managing director at
The Results Consultancy

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