By Ty Hendrickson
Flash back a year ago, pre-pandemic, to yet another after-work networking event that you feel like you have to attend to build your practice. You have some good conversations with people you always see at these events. You have some food and drinks, but you don’t come home with any new real leads. The only thing you get is an extra pound on the scale in the morning and another night away from friends and family. Does this sound familiar?
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Fast forward. Many of these events no longer exist … not that you were finding them all that effective anyway. How do you find leads in our current environment?
As you spend your non-billable time trying to find new clients, there is a layer of opportunity hidden in your firms. It’s called your employees. If you are not providing incentives for your team to bring leads, you are missing out on golden opportunities.
Recently one of our clients was able to secure a large client because his office manager was friends with the CFO of a large local company. Your goal should be to build a pathway so that your employees can easily refer new business that you likely don’t have connections to and to reward them for the clients they bring to the firm. Here are five easy strategies if you currently don’t have incentives in place:
1) New Client Bonus
The easiest way to incentivize someone to bring in new business is to offer a new client bonus. The best incentives are the most straightforward incentives, so make a point not to overcomplicate the qualifications. One firm that has been very successful with this offers a 10 percent bonus to anyone who brings in a new client. Under their incentive, the professional will receive a premium of 10 percent of the project when the project is completed. Additionally, if the professional signs a client for recurring work, that person is paid a 10 percent bonus in year one and year two. This strategy promotes people to look for recurring revenue and also added client service when they know their second-year reward is involved.
2) Year-End New Business Growth Bonus
Another way to incentivize people to find new clients is to offer a growth bonus at year end. Firms can decide whether or not they want to set a goal of a certain number of new clients or a specific dollar amount of new revenue (preferred) and if the professional hits this number, he/she is awarded a certain predetermined bonus amount. If you want to incentivize people not to stop when they hit this number, add a kicker in for new business over their goal. This extra amount helps push people to not just get to their goal but to blow the target out of the water. Most people don’t like to leave money on the table.
3) Year-End Client Upsell Growth Bonus
This is similar to the previous incentive but also gets professionals to consider ways they can add value and revenue to existing clients. When you think about selling and gaining additional revenue, selling to existing clients is a much easier conversation than a cold interview with a brand-new prospect. This idea can be in combination with the previous two incentives to maximize new revenue.
4) Career Advancement Growth Goals
Most firms now want to see that professionals can bring in a certain amount of new business to advance in their career past manager level. Including these goals in career path expectations can incentivize professionals in a different way where those who want to move up in the firm quickly will make this a priority earlier in their career. If someone knows that they have to bring in a certain amount of business to the firm each year to get to the next level in their career, they will make sure to prioritize those activities, and firm leadership will get to see who their rising stars are earlier in their career.
5) Training on Sales Skills
A sales course for all of your employees will help your firm transition from one that thinks about just the technical part of the business to a growth mindset. Some primary sales skills might have your new intern thinking about how to ask Uncle Max about switching firms.
These simple strategies can quickly help you grow your practice, but unfortunately, we find that most firms have no such incentives in place. How is your firm set up? Do you incentivize growth with financial or career incentives? We would love to hear from you in the comments about what you do to promote growth activities in your firm.