How To Turn Accounting Prospects Into Clients
Todd Steinberg, VP of Sales and Marketing at New Clients Inc., has worked with over 5,000 accounting and CPA professionals in providing a go-to script for meeting prospects.
He knows how to talk to prospects and close them and that’s why we brought him to the show today.
In this episode of Growing Your Firm Podcast, David Cristello and Todd Steinberg discuss:
- The type of businesses that will sign with your accounting firm faster than others
- A word-for-word script for meeting prospects
- 2 things every prospect wants that you must show them if you want them to become a client
Todd Steinberg, colleague of past guest, Bruce Clark, works with New Clients, Inc. (NCI), a firm helping accountants grow and nurture prospects into clients.
Todd sees so many accounting firms looking to grow the “regular” way by referrals and organic clientele coming through the door. Unfortunately, this puts building your firm into a passive role.
Many firms who work with NCI don’t understand how to market their firm nor do they have the answer to the question, “Where can I spend marketing dollars wisely so I see a return on investment?”
Those are the regular questions Todd hears everyday.
In the age of “digital marketing” today, your brand online is as important as ever. You must take an active stand in delivering a strong, consistent, compelling brand when you go out to attract clients.
But, the brand is just the first steps. Your next steps are actually going out and marketing your firm.
That’s when you get the million dollar question, “What do I do?”
Do you: Use Google adwords, Bing adwords, join network groups, send out direct mail, employ salesmen?
Sure. Those are actions to take.
But, Todd, after working with 5,000+ professionals, found the best way to grow your firm and client base….
Direct contact with prospects. Reaching out to businesses who need your help.
Which Prospects Do You Go After?
Reaching out to businesses directly has proven to be the most effective method for gaining new clients. It’s tough because it is full of rejection. Also tough because you must understand the needs of the business owners you talk to in order to get them interested.
That’s why — if you know which type of businesses you should pursue, it’s much easier to talk in a language they understand. Because you understand their business.
Todd and NCI have found a core group of businesses that work well for budding firms.
The myth in the accounting industry is that accounting firms only have 8,9,10 figure clients. That’s not true.
80% of businesses fall in the “Under $5M in revenue” category. Thus, only 20% make more, and a small slice make 9, 10+ figures.
Thus, you should start with targeting small to medium size businesses.
Now, that’s a great place to start. But, you must understand something about small-to-medium sized businesses — they are very loyal to their vendors.
They will not jump ship easily for minor price differences. If they do, there was a deeper issue.
First thing you must understand...you are not trying to pry a business owner away from a firm they like working with.
That’s a hard-sell and not worth the effort.
Rather target these 3 groups:
- Startups (0 years ) to 5 years old: Good price and valuable service will sell this size business again and again. These owners are young and don’t know what they know. That’s when you can educate them. Also, many companies at this age do not have internal accountants. Starting with small companies is great because you can grow together and see the company get larger and larger.
- # of employees are 1-19: Once you get over this size, the business usually will have a finance department
- Revenue is under $5M: As mentioned, 80% of businesses fall into this. If you can get all 3 of these points, you can get a client next week.
DAVID’S TIP: As mentioned, you aren’t going to pry business owners away from a firm they like just by price. It’s not worth their time to switch firms. Rather, you need to position yourself to prove you bring more value to the table. “I work with HVAC companies to save them on taxes.” Any HVAC owner will want to talk more. Just the curiosity will get that prospect on the phone.
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That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about your prices. You should be competitively priced, but you must first present yourself as trustworthy. That allows you to charge higher prices than someone trying to undercut you.
Word-for-Word Scripts For Meeting Prospects:
This all sounds great, but what do you actually say to prospect when you make direct contact with them?
The key: Push what they want to hear about.
Most businesses need compliance services first, so forget about explaining your financial advisory arm, etc. until they become a client.
All you want to do is get them interested:
“Hi Mr. Smith, thanks for taking my call. We are a local firm concentrating on the needs of small to medium sized companies in the HVAC business. I’m calling to see if we can be of assistance to save you tax dollars? All in order to save you time and money. Which is more convenient to chat more about this, morning or evening?”
Here, Todd doesn’t do a hard-sell to become a client. Rather, differentiates himself than pushes for a next step in the conversation.
Anybody talking about “tax savings” in a day-and-age of wild arguments in the US Congress about tax reform, will get heads turning.
You need to figure out what would turn your prospect’s heads?
DAVID’S TIP: In this direct outreach, there will be a lot of rejection. But, what’s worse: Rejection or your firm flat-lining?
The wording is very precise and casual. You then want to probe into deeper questions.
Here’s some examples depending on their business:
For a new business:
- “How much time are you spending doing the books rather than building your company?” — the time they spend has value as they look to grow faster
- “Do you like handling your taxes?” — this will always get a “NO’ response, thus you can address this as you push them to become a client
- “Have you thought about implementing any tax savings strategies?” — here, notice we don’t ask “Why haven’t you…” accusing them (don’t do), but ask them an open question so they don’t feel belittled or unintelligent.
For an established business:
- “If you already have an accountant, why did you want to talk to me?” — get the prospect talking
- “What needs to change for you to be happy with your current firm?”
- “How are you bettering your services?”
When you can drill down into the type of client you want, you can speak more closely to their needs.
2 Things Every Prospect Wants That You Must Provide To Make Them A Client:
Business owners aren’t picky. They are very busy which is why you will get rejected a lot.
But, when you peak their interest, they will give you their time and money.
And, that’s exactly the answer to “What 2 things does every prospect want?”
- More time
- More money
As an accountant, you save them time with doing their books and taxes. Then, you save them money with finding tax savings.
Take care of these and you have a client for years because that’s all these business owners want.
When you talk to a prospect, remember these 2 things — more time, more money — as the main driving forces going on in the prospect’s head at every moment.
Combining all of these pieces together, Todd expects you could close a client in the next 2-3 weeks. You must keep a system up of talking to prospects and reaching out to new ones regularly or you lose momentum.
Todd’s firm, New Clients Inc., provides many tools, white papers, and ebooks that can help you as part of your firm. Business development and marketing is one of the most-despised pieces by accountants, yet it’s the lifeblood of the business.
Do you have a go-to script for meeting new clients? Leave a teaser of it below!