You know that you can (and should be!) getting more value from your online marketing efforts. Unfortunately, too many bookkeepers and accountants slap up a website, fill out a Facebook page, claim a listing, and call it “done” … and then hope that the clients pour in.
Expecting a commoditized website service to build a website for you and expecting it to get uniquely better results than the tens of thousands of other firms using such services is also nothing more than hope. Sadly, hope is not a marketing strategy.
In this article, part two of a five part series, we are going to dig into some of the “other” factors that play into online marketing success– that many practitioners don’t take into account. In part one of the series, we discussed “misunderstanding the foundation for ALL of your other marketing” - about how most business owners to not recognize that marketing at its most fundamental level is about building relationships.
But let’s move onto some other factors that cause our online marketing efforts to fail…
Salesmanship and other “non marketing” factors
Nothing happens until you SELL something. And we are aware that this is sometimes a sticking point for those in our industry, but selling is a crucial skill to acquire.
Life is filled with forms of selling. And everyone put on this earth uses some form of salesmanship every day - some people just don’t realize it. For example, you sell your kids on getting up and going to school. You sell your spouse on going out to eat at a nice restaurant this weekend. You sell your employees on taking good care of your clients.
If you don’t think all of these things have some form of selling in them, then we’re going to have to keep trying to “sell” you on this idea. Why? The more you understand that everything happening around you is because somebody SOLD something, the better off you will be “selling” yourself and your services.
Understanding that we all use salesmanship every day can be a crucial “missed base” for an accountant or advisory firm. And you may not even know that you had missed this critical piece until you read this article!
Salesmanship counts. Preparing a P/L is one thing. Selling yourself and your services as the “best in your market area or segment” as you sit with a client or prepare books is much better.
Your ability to SELL yourself and your firm is, for the purposes of your business growth, more important than actually knowing how to diagnose financial issues (which is, of course, extremely important — but we’re assuming your excellence as a “given” for the sake of this conversation). In fact, many successful accountants and bookkeepers are only “average” when it comes to effectively delivering their services.
Why is this important? Because it proves the point again. As painful as it is to admit, sales is more important than the actual technical skill for the long-term growth of a business, especially a service business.
Here is a significant missed base, where salesmanship plays an enormous factor: answering the inbound phone call/email/chat/text.
Answering the incoming inquiry PROPERLY is one of the most important things you can do to increase revenue in your firm. When analyzing sales at an accounting or bookkeeping firm, success often rests on the simple fact that they had “right” person answer the phones. Simply put, the person answering the phone should be one of your better selling employees to see extra bumps in new client business.
The opposite is true as well. There are some firms that have a grumpy, distracted person on the phone or manning the chat most of the day -- and sure enough you see it in the numbers at the end of the day. This is why the most successful firms don't let ANYONE handle inbound inquiries (phone or otherwise) unless they were a manager, key employee or they had been specifically trained to do this well. It truly is that important.
What kind of person is best for answering the inbound inquiry? Start with people who like talking to other people (especially on the phone). If they enjoy engaging other people in dialogue, they’ll usually do well at qualifying a prospect (through whichever medium) on the kind of services they are looking for, explaining why your firm is a good option for that person and then using some simple closing techniques.
It doesn’t have to be too complicated. But identifying and deploying this person is critical.
There are plenty of people out there who are naturally good at persuading others to follow along with a simple presentation over the phone or over chat, and asking them to come to your office and do business with you. These people may not know anything about accountancy or taxes and that’s OK. You can find plenty for them to do other than the actual delivery of services.
Here’s what the person needs to be able to do:
- LISTEN to what the caller is saying
- ASK a qualifying question
- CLOSE the person (into coming to the office or setting an online appointment)
If the person answering your inquiries can do those three things then you’ve got yourself an excellent point person.
Here is some simple arithmetic for you to think about. Suppose the person you have answering your inquiries “sells” only 1 more new client per week that otherwise you may not have brought in and that person works 50 weeks per year.
That means a point person doing “just a little bit better” on the selling side can bring you 50 new clients into your office! Those kinds of numbers can take some firms from an average year to an amazing one, all because of the person handling the inbound inquiries.
So, am I selling you on finding the right person to answer your inquiries this year?
By the way, it shouldn’t be you. In the beginning this is acceptable, but you need to be concentrating your efforts on overseeing everything, not just one task like answering these inquiries.
If your marketing isn’t getting the kind of results that you expect — it may not be the fault of the marketing. Consider other places where your new client funnel could be leaking. Your intake process is likely to be a significant culprit. More on this another time....
Click Here for Part 1 in this series - Understanding the Foundation for Your Online Marketing