How to Target Your Prospects for Sales Success

Businessman pole vaulting toward his goalAnd how to pull in help from outside your firm.

By Jean Marie Caragher

Imagine creating a vision board of the top targeted prospects you would like to obtain as clients.

MORE: Jean Caragher on High-Performing Firms | All in the Family Business Niche | Networking Still a Strong Lead Generator | How Smart CPA Firms Use Events as a Lead Generation Tool | 14 Timely Questions for Tax Season Clients | The 12-Step Program for Building Better Client Relationships
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This is what happened at Legacy Professionals, a niche-focused firm headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, focused on serving employee benefit plans, labor organizations, not-for-profits and government entities.
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All in the Family Business Niche

Portrait of Neil Fauerbach
Fauerbach

Neil Fauerbach outlines several ideas you could use.

By Jean Marie Caragher

Niche marketing continues to be the most successful marketing strategy for accounting firms.

MORE from Jean Marie Caragher: Networking Still a Strong Lead Generator | How Smart CPA Firms Use Events as a Lead Generation Tool | 14 Timely Questions for Tax Season Clients | The 12-Step Program for Building Better Client Relationships
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Over the years I’ve received mixed reactions about whether family business qualifies as a niche. Are niches only industry-oriented?

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Kolmansberger: How To Do Networking the Right Way

Kolmansberger

CHECKLIST: 12 ways to stop wasting time on dead-end efforts.

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"Top Questions to Ask at Your Next Networking Event"

By Jean Marie Caragher
90-Day Marketing Plan for CPA Firms

Many CPAs would rather have a tooth pulled or wait in line at the DMV than attend a networking function. Yet, networking continues to be the #1 tactic to generate leads for accounting firms.

More from Jean Marie Caragher: How Smart CPA Firms Use Events as a Lead Generation Tool | 14 Timely Questions for Tax Season Clients | The 12-Step Program for Building Better Client Relationships | New Webinar Series: The Truth about Advisory Services
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For a firm that was founded on networking, Herbein + Company, Inc. – a regional certified public accounting firm with six offices in Pennsylvania – continues to promote the value of building relationships through networking.

Jack Kolmansberger, Herbein’s chief marketing officer and a past president of the Association for Accounting Marketing, plays a key role in the firm’s networking strategy.

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New Webinar Series: The Truth about Advisory Services

Four-session January series targets growth-minded CPAs.

CPA Trendlines expert author Jean Marie Caragher of Capstone Marketing and HaydenRock Solutions are collaborating on a complimentary webinar series, “The Truth about Offering Advisory Services.”

The webinars will be offered at no charge or obligation on four consecutive Wednesdays from 2-2:30 p.m. ET.

  • Jan. 10: Why Today’s Successful Firms are Offering Advisory Services
  • Jan. 17: 4 Common Mistakes to Avoid & 4 Building Blocks to Success
  • Jan. 24: A Peek into a Proven System to Help You Become Your Clients’ Most Relevant Advisor
  • Jan. 31: How to Make 2018 Your Best Year Ever

Register Here

The agenda includes:

  • Identify client needs easily and systematically
  • Add value with “limitless expertise”
  • Implement value-based billing without looking expensive
  • Access top experts at no cost to you
  • Pinpoint new opportunities and help make them happen

Managing Partners Only: Advanced Sales & Marketing Work Group

CPA Trendlines contributor Jean Caragher has opened enrollment to a new managing-partner-only peer-group on business development and marketing.

"It costs 400% more to close an unreferred prospect versus a referred prospect," says Caragher, CEO and founder of Capstone Marketing. The new online working group is designed to help managing partners "generate more referrals from your network."

The Capstone Community pulls together managing partners interested in education and collaboration regarding CPA firm marketing, growth and client retention. To encourage accountability and execution, each managing partner is encouraged to participate with another member of his or her firm.

Each Capstone Community will meet 13 times over a 15-month time period (no meetings in March or December):

– Monthly one-hour group webinar/online meeting
– Monthly one-hour individual coaching call

LEARN MORE HERE  >>>

 

 

How Smart CPA Firms Use Events as a Lead Generation Tool

Glick

Just ask Sally Glick.

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Top Trends in CPA Firm Marketing and Business Development
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By Jean Marie Caragher
90-Day Marketing Plan for CPA Firms

While technology and social media have offered new marketing tactics for CPA firms, the tried and true face-to-face options remain beneficial. Just ask Sally Glick, Chief Marketing Officer at Sobel & Co., in Livingston, NJ.

Just ask Sally Glick, Chief Marketing Officer at Sobel & Co., in Livingston, NJ.

MORE on MARKETING from JEAN CARAGHER: FREE eBOOK: 13 Ways to Waste Your Accounting Firm Marketing Budget  |  The 12-Step Program for Building Better Client Relationships  |  Six Questions That Will Change the Way You See Your CPA Firm’s Marketing Program  |  The 10-Point Plan of Great Business-Developers  |  10 Real-World Expectations for Accounting Firm Marketing  |  10 Partner Must-Do’s in Getting the Most of Your Marketing Director  |  Real Networking Starts after the First Meeting | More

I’ve known Sally for two decades and if ever there was a person who could strategize, organize and promote events as a lead generation tool she is that person.

“Events are one of the most effective lead generation tactics for us,” explains Glick. “During the year we host 15 business events and 13 nonprofit programs, which demonstrate our thought leadership – our skills, competencies, and business acumen our clients demand. While presenting relevant information, and afterward when fielding questions, we have a chance to make a connection that may grow into a new engagement.”

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Caragher Launches Capstone Community

Capstone Marketing, which is operated by CPA Trendlines contributor Jean Caragher, is rolling out the Capstone Community, a new network of managing partners interested in education and collaboration in CPA firm growth and client retention.

A two-year program that will begin in January 2016, members will meet via online meetings and receive one hour of individual coaching 10 times each year. Membership in each community is limited to 10 firms of similar size that are geographically exclusive. Members will have 24/7 access to the Capstone Community Library, including templates, checklists, videos, and more. 

“There are many managing partners interested in growing their firms and retaining clients who don’t have a peer group or internal marketing expertise,” explains Jean Caragher, president of Capstone Marketing. “The Capstone Community will fill the gap and provide managing partners with targeted tools, training and teamwork to enrich their firms.”

Learn more about the Capstone Community at http://capstonemarketing.com/services/capstone-community.  To register go to http://go.capstonemarketing.com/community.

The 12-Step Program for Building Better Client Relationships

Selfie Cell Phone PicsTurn the habits of everyday friendship into business skills.

By Jean Marie Caragher
The 90-Day Marketing Plan for CPA Firms

Since strong client relationships contribute to client satisfaction, longevity and lead generation, partners often encourage their managers and staff to build relationships with their clients. But these managers and staff look at the relationships their firm’s partners have built over time and think it’s impossible to replicate their results.

Building relationships with clients can be done using the same behaviors that we use when building friendships and courting our spouse or significant other. Consider these 12 tips to build client relationships, especially during tax season, prime time for in-person client contact. READ MORE →

Six Questions That Will Change the Way You See Your CPA Firm’s Marketing Program

By Jean Caragher

It's always a good time to look back and identify the improvements to be made in the year ahead.

Here are six questions that will get you thinking – and change the way you see your CPA firm’s marketing program.

1. Where did your new business come from?

If you have a process to track your leads, proposals, wins and losses, then you can answer this question. If not, now is the time to start. Despite the variety of customer relationship management (CRM) and sales management programs, Excel is the software CPAs use most often to track new business development. Create a spreadsheet to capture: the prospect’s name, contact person, referral source, services to be provided, estimated fee, estimated decision date, next steps, and whether the opportunity is ultimately won or lost. Consistently tracking this information enables you to identify your most important referral sources, to thank them and to send leads their way. It also highlights the marketing initiatives that result in lead generation.

2. Which clients did you lose, and why?

CPAs lose clients for a variety of reasons including the sale or dissolution of a client’s business, poor client service, not being proactive enough and fees. What percentage of your lost clients was in your control? Or, out of your control? Which of your lost clients should not have been your client in the first place? This information can serve as a learning opportunity for your entire team regarding new client selection, client service and communication.

3. How often are you communicating with your clients and prospects?

Are your clients receiving valuable information from your competitors rather than from your own firm? To be considered your clients’ “trusted advisor” or “business advisor” as well as their CPA you must provide them with tips, alerts and guidance about how they can be more profitable, save taxes, improve efficiencies and educate them about tax and audit rules and regulations. Your face-to-face and telephone conversations with clients can be supplemented with enewsletters, webinars and seminars to share your thought leadership or intellectual capital. You want to be the “go to” source when your clients and prospects need solutions for their challenges and concerns. This will translate into special projects and new business referrals, which should be added to your new business development report (above).

4. How is your website contributing to your lead generation efforts?

A CPA firm website is a “must have” and needs to be more than a static online brochure. Website upgrades is a top marketing initiative of CPA firms. Upgrades include responsive design, search engine optimization, videos, blogs, archived enewsletters, links to social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube), and sharing thought leadership through inbound marketing. With the right strategy and components your website can be a source of new business leads for your firm.

5. How do your clients rate their level of satisfaction with your firm?

Do you ask your clients questions related to client service and satisfaction? If your firm is like most CPA firms your answer is, “No.” The majority of CPA firms have no formal client satisfaction program whatsoever. In the 2011 PCPS CPA Firm Top Issues Survey, retention of current clients showed up on every segment’s top-five list. Yet, retention of current clients only made two groups’ top five in 2013 (sole practitioners and firms with 11 to 20 professionals). CPAs are confident in their ability to retain clients but are primarily unwilling to measure their satisfaction. Client retention is necessary for firm growth. Client service can be a point of differentiation. Read our complimentary eBook, Client Satisfaction Surveys for CPA Firms: The Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Questions, to make this year the year you begin to measure client satisfaction.

6. What changes are you willing to make to improve the results of your marketing efforts?

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Pick one initiative – it may or may not be one of the above – and create a plan of action. This will change the way you see your CPA firm’s marketing program by providing information to help you make smart decisions.