What’s wrong with your firm’s sales process and how to fix it

Your sales process shouldn’t be a constant battle. It shouldn’t drain your resources, and it shouldn’t make you work harder than you need to.

Your sales process should work in your favor. It should work hand-in-hand with the rest of your accounting practice. But if you find yourself struggling to convert leads or feel like you’re constantly missing out on winning new clients, chances are there’s something wrong with your sales process.

And if you don’t address these challenges, you simply won’t hit your sales goals and grow your accounting firm. Or you may hit your goals, but at the cost of your mental health, your firm’s culture, and/ or other functions and areas of your business.

A well-oiled sales machine can be complex to build, which means it can be complex to troubleshoot. But there are common themes that you should address first—think of it like a basic health check for your sales process. If you’re still not achieving the results you want after addressing them, then it’s time for a closer look under the hood.

First, here are four common issues with accounting firm sales processes, and how to fix them.

1. You don’t have an actual structured sales process

Taking your best guess might work a handful of times, but a sales process that isn’t clearly defined isn’t a sales process at all: it’s a guessing game.

And guessing games aren’t reliable or predictable, meaning they’re a risky thing to forecast your accounting firm’s growth on. You wouldn’t recommend it to your clients, so you shouldn’t allow your own firm to take the same risk.

The answer lies in creating a strong process.

Solution

Come up with the way your firm turns a lead into a paying client, then write down the steps and touchpoints that are involved in this process. 

Standardizing and documenting a sales process for your firm will uncover gaps and missed opportunities you currently face, and then provide you with the chance to put a plan in place to turn them 180 degrees. 

Performing this process will not only help you create a strong sales process, but it’ll help you actually measure your efforts, refine them, train your team easily and quickly, and of course, attract and convert new clients.

2. You don’t clearly understand your ideal client, and what qualifies them as a fit for your firm

If you don’t know what you’re looking for, how will you find it? Sure, you might ‘know it when you feel it’ when you’re finding the right spot to pitch your tent when you go camping, but this mentality isn’t an effective, efficient or smart way to grow your accounting firm.

Solution

You need to clearly define and intimately understand your ideal client so that you can direct your sales efforts to fit their specific needs.

When you can address the specific needs of your ideal clients, you’re more likely to convert them into paying clients because they feel seen, heard and understood. And importantly, they understand how your services can address their needs.

Let’s say your ideal client is a hairdressing salon owner, for example. After learning everything about them—their goals, motivations and pain points—you quickly understand just how complex it can be to manage payroll for a team of beauticians. Now that you understand this, you can tell prospects exactly how you can solve this issue for them (so they can get back to growing their salon and spending time with their families).

Or maybe your niche market is small construction businesses with 5-20 employees. If your website doesn’t specifically state that you offer accounting services for small businesses of this size and in this industry, you’ll almost certainly receive enquiries from people and businesses of all specialties and sizes. Make it clear that if a freelance digital artist visits your site, they’re not going to get what they need from you.

When that’s clear to them, they’ll move on and find someone that is better-suited to their situation, and you won’t be wasting time working an unqualified lead.

3. There’s too much friction getting in the way of converting leads

Are you or your sales team difficult to get a hold of? Is the contact form on your website set up incorrectly and not delivering prospective clients into your sales cycle? Are your email response times too slow? Or are you simply too busy to chase new prospects?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your sales process may be hindered by too much friction. Put simply, this means there are too many barriers (even if they’re small) between you and your prospective clients.

Solution

You need to reduce as much friction as possible—make everything a prospect does easy. If it’s navigating your website, finding a phone number to call, or understanding what services you offer, make it foolproof

Even better, reduce friction and surprise them. You can do this by making the process—whatever it is they’re trying to do—easier and/ or more useful for them. For example, enable prospects to book a time directly in your calendar via your website, rather than just providing your email address.

Understand what it is you want them to do—what action you want them to take—and then make it as clear and easy as possible for them to do it.

4. You don’t have the right tools to support your sales process 

If you’re managing your sales process in your head, on paper or in a spreadsheet, you’re making your life more difficult than it needs to be.

Find and implement the tools that will make your job easier, more efficient and more productive. This means you won’t be wasting your time trying to remember when you last contacted a now-cold lead, or completing manual administrative tasks.

Solution

There are tools that will help you manage leads, your sales pipeline and forecasting, and tools that will help you manage your sales communications.

And tools like Karbon can help you manage your sales process workflow, so you can schedule automatic emails at one time and track your sales efforts by life cycle stage. 

Plus, you don’t have to start this process from scratch—you can use a pre-created sales process work template from the Karbon Template Library to add directly into your Karbon account (or download as .xls spreadsheets to use separately or with another tool).

Take the time to find the right tools that will work for you, so you can focus your efforts on building strong relationships with prospects and clients.

Build solid sales process foundations 

If you feel behind the eight ball, like you’re always chasing leads and not getting as far as you need to, and/ or feeling like you’re working harder than you should be when it comes to your sales process, it’s time to take a step back and have a look at your foundations.

Ask yourself:

  1. Is our sales process documented? Is it formalized in any way at all?

  2. Do I understand my target market enough to know when someone is a qualified lead?

  3. Is there too much friction stopping a lead from converting into a paying client?

  4. Do I have the right tools in place to manage leads, the sales pipeline and sales communications?

Once you have addressed these four common challenges to your accounting firm’s sales process, you’ll better-understand other areas for improvement. Plus you’ll create consistency so you can measure (and boost) your efforts.

It’s time to flip your sales process challenges into growth opportunities.

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