Getting new leads is the goal. Right?
I’m always fascinated when I talk to accountants about getting more into their marketing funnel, because it often goes like this:
“We want to get leads. More prospects, more business, more quotes, more sales.”
[discussions around how to do this]
“Oh wow – that’s a great process. That sounds like we might get a lot of people interested!”
[further detailed discussions on campaigns, events, downloads, content]
“Oh wait…that sounds like it might really work. We don’t have the capacity to handle that many new clients right now. Maybe we better step back.”
This is the point at which I generally stop to say, “So you’re telling me that the reason you don’t want to push forward with your marketing is in case it works TOO WELL?”
For those of you accountants who are concerned that all your marketing efforts are really going to pay off, and then are conflicted with fears and concerns about being able to handle this wave of new business, here are a few tips to encourage you:
It never usually works that fast. The progression model takes a while to build.
The image you get of all the hordes of new clients and prospects rushing to your doors is more likely to happen to a business that sells or manufactures a product, rather than a business like yours which is a recurring-revenue model based on professional services.
This is because your business is based on trust. Expertise. Authority. No matter how many ‘leads’ you get, some of them are going to take a month to decide, and others will take three years to decide. Some may decide not to go with you at all.
I’ll be writing more about this in a future post, but this progression model takes time to build:
You can increase your prices.
If the “worst” does happen and you’re having to lock and bar the front doors of your accountancy firm offices because of the crowds milling around outside desperate to work with you, there’s a really easy answer.
You can increase your prices.
Naturally this will get rid of the time wasters, the tyre kickers, those who simply want a cheap quote.
But it will also hit the pause button for those who are undecided.
This is a good thing. You do not want to take on all the clients and all the prospects and all the work – of course you don’t. That’s why you’re feeling the pressure of your marketing work going too well. So increasing your prices for new prospects will help them decide if they’re really serious, it will be profitable for you, and some of them will decide not to go ahead.
That’s a win.
You can let go of the smaller and more difficult clients, freeing up resourcing.
Every accountancy firm has “legacy” clients that over time will fall away. Your prices will go up, or their business will change, or they’ll retire.
If you get so much new business that you can barely handle it, you can begin to shift aside those smaller clients by choice – rather than waiting for them to do it.
We have a client in the States who sent a letter to over 100 very small, tax-return-only clients, and explained that things were changing. They weren’t going to do personal tax returns on their own anymore. They offered the small clients two options: they could sign up for the new business package including Xero software and annual accounts and the tax return, or they could go elsewhere (and the letter included the names of trusted nearby accountants who would be happy to take their business).
Only a few of those smaller clients took them up on the offer to stay: but it was an absolute win. The relief to the team in terms of resourcing, and the freed-up time, meant that they could deliver great services for much bigger and more profitable clients, almost immediately.
The increased prices and profitability will allow you to address your resourcing and hiring.
As you address your pricing and resourcing, you can hire more people.
Don’t have the Xero or Quickbooks or online software capability in-house? Hire someone, or work with an outsourced business who can provide that on a whitelabeled basis to your clients. Or invest in training for your entire team.
Whatever your resourcing issues, having all these extra leads and new business will fund that “problem”.
Isn’t that the kind of “problem” you wanted in the first place?
Go back to the beginning. You got in touch with us, or started reviewing marketing options wherever you’re looking, because you wanted more leads. More clients. More business. Higher turnover. Better profits.
If all of those feel like they’re suddenly within your grasp, why would you hold back? What’s in it for you to go slow and do less and wait longer?
I remember having a conversation with my own accountant not too long after I’d bought out my business partner and was learning what it felt like to run the business entirely on my own. We were swamped with new business and new leads, and I found myself saying no more often than I was saying yes. I felt frustrated, and a little discouraged.
My accountant said, “But isn’t that a great problem to have? Think about all the problems other creative agencies like you are facing: all of these, but without the cash flow and the team and the niche that you have. These are good problems. Let’s deal with them.”
Running a business is always full of some sort of problems. Hiring, resourcing, systems, pricing, marketing, branding, cash, whatever. Wouldn’t you rather have the amazing problem of too much work, and too many leads to handle?
Of course you would.
Other accountants are pushing forward when you’re pulling back.
I can say with absolute certainty that there are accountants out there who are not pulling back. Who are investing more, further, faster, and learning marketing themselves. They’re teaching themselves WordPress skills, involving the team in social media, learning how to write blog posts, hiring internal or outsourced support, running events, doing Facebook ads.
We’ve all heard the phrase “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”
That’s not true.
You’ll get less.
Because the world and technology and business and your future clients are moving so fast that you need to move with them.
So keep pushing forward – even if it might work too well. That’s the kind of problem you want to have.