Over the past year, I’ve spoken with many Partners of accounting firms, asking them what their biggest hurdle is when it comes to growing revenue from their existing client base.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that it’s something as simple as lack of time. My research tells me that 45-55% of Partners don’t have enough time, and say their main challenge is getting drowned in email, paperwork and compliance.
The comment about having to be compliant with ever-increasing regulation is understandable. But I was confounded to hear that paperwork and communication eats up so much of their time because there is a range of readily available technology that provides great solutions for managing both.
So diving a bit further down I discovered that the issue is not really lack of time; the problem facing exasperated Partners is not knowing what solutions are available to handle these tasks. They are not aware, for example, that marketing to existing clients can be fully automated, allowing Partners and their staff to reach into the pot of gold that is right under their noses – with minimal demand on time.
Transactions are no longer business builders – so what is?
We all know that more businesses, particularly SMEs, are utilising cloud-based programs like XERO and MYOB to reduce time and money spent on accounting, causing transactional revenue to disappear into thin air.
Smart accountants are building their firm’s revenue and value by taking a strategic role in their clients’ businesses, such as offering advice on business structuring and the often over-looked succession planning. Partners sometimes join the client’s business in a board advisory role bringing corporate governance and financial management to the table.
But, again from my conversations with Partners, most are only doing this with the top 5% of their client base – the remaining 95% are left untapped. “We don’t have time to build relationships with everyone.”
A powerful solution is now available to time-poor Partners
For some years now anyone who’s used a search engine has been aware that big companies have been tracking our internet activity via our searches and other online behaviour. You know what I mean; you’re thinking of upgrading your Audi so do a few searches and then on your subsequent Google visits you see advertisements for new cars popping up. Well, that technology is no longer restricted to big budget conglomerates. That technology, called marketing automation, is now available through affordable platforms to help you reach and correspond effectively with the untapped 95% of your clients.
I’ve seen it work – here’s a great example
Working with an accounting firm whose Partners only had time to build full relationships with just the top 5% of their client base, we set about looking for a campaign focus that might appeal to a sizeable proportion of their client base.
“It is reported that 75% of business owners do not have a formal exit plan.”
Identifying this glaring statistic as an opportunity, we created a campaign to reach every single client with information about the importance of succession planning – what is involved and how professional advice would help to add more value to their business when the time came to sell.
The end result was that more clients realised the accountant could help them in other ways they hadn’t considered. This repositioned the firm/Partner as someone to rely on for a range of business assistance – with little impact on the firm’s time or resources.
“79% of high performing firms believe adding value to existing customers is the most effective strategy for growth – seems to be working for them”
The program guided clients and prospective clients through a range of helpful online material educating them about the advisory capacity of the Partner and how it can improve their business. It automatically tracked the client’s journey through the campaign, identifying when their interest reached a targeted level and then triggering a ‘hot’ sales alert to the Partner to follow up.
So that’s a single call to a highly qualified lead, instead of trying to call the entire client list and wasting everybody’s time. Plus, automating the communication process guarantees that no-one falls through the cracks.
We know what accounting firms need and we do all the hard work
What’s so easy about using marketing automation is that we do all the hard work at Permission.
My team and I use Act-on technology to deliver the information necessary to build a trusted adviser relationship. We track clients’ consumption of this information and deliver reports to the Partner with names of clients interested in meeting them and what they want to talk about.
It literally transforms the way accountants attract, convert and retain clients.
“Companies using marketing automation generate twice as many leads and see 53% higher conversion rates.”
Succession planning statistic: http://www.lindfieldpartners.com.au/news/succession-planning/