Many firms struggle with this because they approach it simply by trying to sign as many new clients as possible. Not much more thought than that is put into it. But it’s not that straightforward.
As GoProposal's James Ashford says, "you’re not being compared to other accountancy firms, you’re being compared to world-class businesses".
It’s about attracting and identifying the right clients. Providing a world-class experience from the very first interaction. And doing it efficiently. To achieve this, you must spend time perfecting your sales qualification process.
In this article, you’ll learn how to achieve this. You’ll discover how you can generate new leads, qualify them to determine which ones are worth spending time on, and how you can automate this process using Karbon and other ecosystem tools.
Know and communicate to your ideal clients
Think about your existing clients today. They’re not all created equal. It’s likely that some are much more profitable, while others consume staff time and are painful to deal with. It’s probably obvious which ones you want more of.
You might also target a niche. If your marketing speaks to restaurant owners, but your services are designed for retail businesses, there is a misalignment between your marketing messaging and your delivery of service.
Every industry has a unique set of considerations. Your clients want to know that you understand that. If they feel doubt, they won’t move forward in their buyer’s journey.
To get a better understanding of who your best clients are, and how you can speak to them more directly consider the following:
Identify who your current and best clients are.
Determine what attributes they have in common. For example, are they all in the same industry? Is the industry niche?
Think about other professional information: how big the companies are, what points of contact you work best with, etc.
Learn what pain points your accounting firm solves for your clients
Collect information from your sales team. What are clients saying about your service?
Write all of this information down in a persona doc so that you can create a semi-fictional representation of who your prospects are.
This exercise makes it easier to create all marketing communication—like website narratives, blogs, and emails—with a particular persona in mind. Then, you’ll have a better idea of what messaging you can create that will have a positive impact on them.
And just as importantly, you can make it clear who your services are not appropriate for, reducing the likelihood of wasting time in the long-run.
Know what you want a lead to do, and make it easy for them
Once you have convinced a potential client that you are the best firm to solve their specific challenges, you have one objective for the first interaction they have with your accounting firm:
Convince them to take the appropriate next step.
The vast majority of the time, this first interaction will be your firm’s website. If a great potential client visits your website today, how easy do you make this step for them?
Think about what you want to happen here. It might be a form completion, a phone call, or something else.
What is easiest for your firm to handle today? What will enable you to scale in the future? What will enable you to provide the best experience? And what will allow you to quickly qualify the prospect to ensure you are a good fit for one another?
Know what information to collect to qualify a prospect
It’s important early in the process to collect the information needed to determine how likely a lead will turn into a customer. But don’t go overboard, because the more information you require, the more time you are requiring from your prospect. Make it easy for them.
The advantage of using a form on your website, is that you can ask qualifying questions early on, and keep it all automated.
For example, you can also ask them qualifying questions like:
When they need the service
Number of employees
By asking these questions, you can start to see which leads match your ideal candidate and filter out clients that may not be the best fit for your firm.
Score your leads to qualify them
Once you know what the right candidate looks like, and you’ve started collecting data from your incoming leads, you can better understand which ones look like a good fit and are worth the time to pursue.
Lead scoring is the process of assigning values (usually numbers) to each lead you generate for the business. The values are based on the attributes you collect in lead forms (like job title, company budget, and number of employees.) You can also add extra points to those that have engaged with your brand a number of times.
So, if you’re targeting companies with more than 50 employees, leads that come in with less than 50 employees will be ranked lower than those that report having 50 or more employees.
Similarly, if an entry-level sales rep enters their information, they aren’t as likely to be a key decision-maker as a chief marketing office is. In this case, the CMO’s lead would earn a higher score than the sales rep.
If you’re only just setting up a sales qualification process for the first time, you don’t need to be as sophisticated as assigning a numerical score to every attribute. It could be as simple as identifying one or two critical attributes, such as industry and revenue, and using that to grade inbound prospects as A, B or C.
Automate your sales qualification process with Karbon and other ecosystem tools
Your inbound sales process is easy to automate, right from the initial website inquiry.
The chart below identifies a simple automation flow where you can:
Collect website inquiries using Typeform
Create a new prospect contact in Karbon (via Zapier)
Send an automatic email to your prospect from Mailchimp that includes a link to book a Discovery Call. Use Calendly to automatically create a calendar invite on your calendar, or the appropriate sales teammate.
Connect with Zoom to automatically create a meeting link and add to your Calendly invite
From there, your new lead’s information and meeting details will be automatically imported into your Karbon account so you know the background of your client before hopping on the welcome call.
The perfect sales discovery meeting
Before forming the exact process, design what an ideal sales discovery meeting should look like.
A discovery meeting should provide you with all the additional information you require to qualify a potential client, align all parties, and create a mutual understanding of what’s coming.
This requires you to have a plan for specific questions, in which you’ll document the answers.
You’ll likely want to know things like:
How many bank and credit card accounts they have
Software tools they will need to connect with their accounting
Details about their historical data
Your firm should create a template for each sales discovery meeting, so you can have a repeatable process and always collect the necessary information. Then you’ll need to document everything so that you don’t have to ask the same things twice and ensure a smooth handover to service delivery.
Create your template in Karbon
Once you’ve defined the process, you can create templates and automate as much as possible. Karbon exists to help accounting firms streamline as much of their service delivery as possible.
If you have Karbon, you can not only use it for a sales qualification template, but also to capture the information you’re collecting.
When you’ve collected the information, you reduce significant communication as the account is handed off to other team members. Now, they’ll know where to look for all the relevant information.
Not only that, but you’ll be able to proceed through the transaction faster, as you can send a proposal with Ignition or GoProposal. With these Karbon partners, you can trigger the appropriate workflow in Karbon once it’s signed.
Your firm’s workflows are often the key component to scaling. Your sales qualification process is no different and can provide major time savings across your firm.