Crisis Averted: Creating a Sales and Advisory Mindset Inside a CPA Firm
QuickFee was proud to host an interactive panel-style Zoom webinar on creating a sales and advisory mindset, led by a panel of leading accounting and business development executives. Tackling a range of questions, our panelists reviewed how CPA firms can overcome challenges and improve sales culture.
Challenges: Meeting the Moment
Before the pandemic, work flowed into CPA firms thanks to a great economy, staffing shortages, and changing tax laws. Now, however, many firms are being forced to re-evaluate their sales cultures – and refine their business development processes to fit a changing landscape. Adding to that, accountants are often afraid of sales engagement and unsure how to bring in work. This makes it even more crucial for today’s CPAs to build robust succession teams and move the conversation away from a “compliance-only” approach.
Some of the most common challenges CPA firms are facing right now:
- Businesses shrinking in size with the pandemic
- Artificial intelligence (AI) changing compliance functions
- An accounting industry resistant to change
- Fear of using “sales” strategies, terms, and resources
- Not enough focus on networking
- A need for succession teams to bring in new work
Lessons Learned: Key Takeaways
“Everybody’s scared of the word ‘referrals.’ We should change our mindset to introductions. It’s as simple as that: Ask for introductions instead of referrals.” – Richard Formoe, CRO at QuickFee
Moving Forward from the Pandemic
Firms need to stay creative, flexible, and intentional during troubled times – and learn from the mistakes of past financial crises. One of the best ways to stay competitive now is to embrace creativity and define your firm’s unique value propositions, focusing on the “Why you?” behind your sales and marketing. Sharing content on LinkedIn (and with local associations and networks) can help you challenge the traditional boundaries and reset your sales pipeline, without additional costs.
Creating a High-Value Accounting Practice
Accounting may be technical, but it’s fundamentally a relationship business. To build a high-value consulting practice that will last the test of time, start by evaluating your client base and pinpointing areas of potential growth. There are two major steps to this process. First, identifying the specific niche advisory services that your clients need, and second, building out a strong professional bench to accommodate those needs.
Defining a Sales Culture
Most prospects are dealing with an overload of communication from sales teams right now. To combat this effect and define your sales culture, build out a strong internal referral program. Some accounting firms are doing this by hosting 10 to 15-minute weekly “coffee talks” for partners to share their contacts. Firms also need to get better at networking online – and making sure that these events align with their core growth strategy.
Engaging Staff in the Growth Process
CPA firms should encourage every staff member to bring in work, but it’s also important to play to employees’ individual strengths, as this can help you build a strong succession team from Day One. “It’s a bit of a paradox because we’re all responsible for growth,” said Annie Yoder, “but if your focus is business development, then focus on business development, because that’s what you’re really good at.” Partners should also set an example with “ride-along” or “plus one” programs for younger staff.
Tools, Tips, and Tricks for CPA Firms
Building a better sales culture doesn’t have to be painful (or expensive.) Here are a few of our panelist-recommended tools you can start using today:
- AICPA: Client Evaluation Tool. The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) provides a comprehensive client evaluation tool to members. This easy-to-use Excel sheet will help you assess your firms’ client base and make informed growth decisions.
- The Visionary Group. Industry-leading CPA growth and consulting implementation firm. Are you looking to increase your advisory services, upscale your client base, instill a business development culture, or explore merger or acquisition opportunities visit ThinkVisionary.com.
- ProVisors: Networking. Want to join a community of top professionals across the country? Supercharge your networking efforts when you join your local ProVisors, along with 6,000+ members nationwide.
- Hubspot: CRM. Need an effective way to track your sales pipeline without extra cost? HubSpot offers a free CRM product proven to help CPA firms.
The Power of the Payment Plan
Payment plans aren’t just a way to reduce your accounts receivable: When used correctly, a payment plan can be a powerful way to win new business. At QuickFee, we offer online payment solutions and fully-financed payment plans for accounting firms. Clients get the option to pay in full or over the course of 3 to 12 months, freeing their cash flow for added advisory services.
Richard shared this story during the webinar session: “I recently had a managing partner who said that one of his large clients asked about a QuickFee payment plan. After learning about the options, this client called him back and asked if he could add on some consulting work too, which he could finally access. The lightbulb went off in the MP’s head… he got his partners on a Zoom meeting, explained how it worked, and they’ve since gotten $432,000 in new business this month!”