Develop a Firm-wide Approach to Winning Business
Key best-in-class business development practices revealed.
May 4, 2009
Business used to walk in the door. CPAs and their partners could depend upon their firm’s sterling reputation, loyal clients and regular referrals to help them win and keep business. But given the downturn in the economy, CPAs now need to really stand out despite their strong brand. What’s worse is that your clients might even be looking around at your competition. For you, the new challenge is to find ways to attract new clients, keep and grow existing clients and do this without exhausting your already hard-working staff. The solution? A firm-wide approach to business development.
When only the top of the firm is responsible for rainmaking, the output is limited and hard won. By contrast, a firm-wide approach to business development leverages every member of the organization and maximizes the relationships that are in place. The issue is to understand — and implement — the critical elements of a truly effective firm-wide, client-centered culture in which it is everyone’s responsibility to help land contracts.
There are three categories of Best-In-Class Business Development Practices: strategy, skills and systems. And they all must be in place at every level of a CPA company to get the best business development results. The following questions will help you to assess your own readiness to get everyone engaged in bringing in business.
Begin with strategy. Ask yourself and your partners: “How well do we do the following?”
Build skills and processes.
Coordinate support systems.
Firm-wide attention on client satisfaction means that every member of your organization – front-office personnel, associates, back-office personnel and partners — needs to embrace a client-centered attitude and ability in their work. The reason? When everyone is involved in winning business, everyone wins.
Molly Sargent is the Principal of Norwalk, Connecticut-based Professional Impressions Consulting. She has trained and coached thousands of financial professionals and client-facing executives in professional image, presentation skills, business etiquette and sales effectiveness. Since 1985, Molly has helped major accounting firms and Fortune 500 companies, including Aetna, American Express, AT&T, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Key Bank, MasterCard, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Prudential achieve breakthrough results.