Thanks to Tax Reform, the CPA is now the life of the party. But do you have the discipline and data to follow up with anyone you meet at that party?
Here’s what I mean…
I was driving home from a client’s office the other day and the radio DJ asks this question: Who do you think is the most popular person at a party these days? To me I started thinking about the person that can do the best Karaoke, or the person that can tell the best jokes or even the person that can impersonations. Well, to my surprise and probably yours, the answer was the CPA.
Yes, the Certified Public Accountant. “Why?” you ask, The reason is because of all the tax law changes, everyone is still confused on what they can deduct, what they can’t deduct, what the new exemptions are etc.
There are millions of business owners who want to find someone who can tell them how to take advantage of the changes in the law, and they’re willing to pay for it. They have the questions, you have the answers. The perfect storm if you do things right!
Now imagine this is you – you’re the life of the party. Seriously, many of you have had this experience – people asking you questions incessantly, the crowd grows and people ask you for your business card and you hand them out like hot cakes till you run out. You get home that night and think about all the cards you handed out, how you picked up so many new clients – now that was a party you truly enjoyed.
The anticipation of coming in Monday and hearing from all these people kept you up Saturday night and Sunday. You arrive in the office full of anticipation and then it happens. NOTHING. No calls, Monday. No calls Tuesday. No calls Wednesday. etc.
What happened, I was the life of the party. I answered all the questions, I handed out so many business cards. There is one major problem: you didn’t get anything in return. You never asked for their contact information, you never asked for their business card, you never asked the name of their business that they were asking you questions about.
You built your practice and now you want to grow it. One of the first things I learned about sales when I left public accounting was that if you provide something get something in return. That doesn’t mean that you overtly keep score- but it does mean that the other party should give you a chance to earn their business if they’re going to ask you for advice.
Growing a firm is about being a salesperson and following a sales process. The way you sell services, is you explain what you do and demonstrate what makes you different is how you develop a client base.
Giving out a business card is always good but receiving one back is even better. Exchanging contact information while your speaking to a potential client is more important to you than it probably is to your prospective client. Why?
It’s far easier for them to take your card and put it into a draw and forget about it. It’s easier for them to continue doing what they’re doing because they don’t want to change.
So let’s review – you gave advice, you set the wrong price expectation for the advice (free), and you got NOTHING in return – you probably don’t remember any of these people’s names, much less their telephone numbers.
Now if you had gotten the people’s business cards and their contact information then its up to you to follow up with them on your advice, your conversation with them. This is where you begin to have a sales process and start the road to earning their business. You gained interest, they wanted to talk to you about their problem, and now you can have them truly recognize that they have a need for your services, and you have a need to collect fees for those services.
Your firm has checklists, processes, and internal controls for any team member to do tax returns or prepare financial statements, and you follow them religiously. One of my nine sales pillars for a CPA firm is Process. Why don’t you have a sales process?
If you did remember who you spoke to or even collected a few business cards, what would you do with them? Put them into Excel? Your Outlook contacts? Then what? More than likely you will forget about them as you dive back into your work and forget about the goal that you wanted to increase your client base this year by 15%. All this is due to the lack of not having a sales process.
In summary, with no exchange of contact information, there’s no possible way to follow up, and if you have no data and no system for organizing it, you won’t follow up, and you definitely won’t make the sale.
Does that sound like a firm, a manager, or a partner with a future as a senior partner? I think not.
You should talk to prospects at parties, but have the discipline to get their contact information, and get them to commit to another conversation in a different setting, where you can help them realize that they need you on their team.