There I was sitting on a hot, stuffy, cramped tube train under London, heading to a meeting I really didn’t want to go to and shouldn’t have been going to, worrying about yet another morning disappearing from my diary that I couldn't afford. Business development meetings can loom large on our time wasters list. Are you allowing business development time wasters to creep into your diary? If your answer is the one that we think it is, here are 3 business development tips for accountants that you can use to reduce the amount of time you waste on business development.
Business development tips for accountants: Avoiding time wasters
You’ve been there too, right? You’re trying to run a successful accounting firm with an overflowing ‘to-do’ list and client demands stacking up, and what are you doing? Attending yet another business development meeting and wondering how you can possibly make more time for the things that matter. Here’s how you can:
Filtering potential leads
Potential leads waste a lot of our time, especially when we try and do more than we should before they even become a client! To avoid this time waster, you need to:
- Create and stick to a sales process where you only commit to doing more for the prospect as they make more commitments to you.
If you’re thinking that sounds restrictive and that it comes from your sales prevention officer, you’re wrong. You need to change your mindset.
You need to start viewing the process of getting to know a potential client as a series of exchanges of commitment where you define the commitments and you’ll soon save time and increase your conversion rate.
A commitment could be as simple as you need it to be such as having a phone conversation (where they reveal information about their company) before you commit to meeting them.
Exceeding targets is not good
The trouble with business development is that it's easy to get carried away with getting more clients. This is natural as you want to ensure that you feed the family tomorrow as well as today, right? But think about it. How real is that?
Chasing more clients reduces your ability to market effectively to your "sweet spot" and to serve your existing clients. Even worse, is that it adds stress and stops you from developing your team and therefore the growth of your practice.
Stopping business development time wasters means knowing how much business you really want. You might consider under which circumstances you would attempt to get more. If you are targeting a GRF of £350k for this year, and you already have £375k committed, do you need to stress your system further?
Only you can answer that, so start to chase your extra business consciously not because it presents itself. I know many small practices that are stressed, struggling and over trading because they exceeded their goals and don't stop hunting for more clients.
It could sound like a lovely place to be, but being selective allows you to be more targeted about people you really like working with. (You can also look at your existing clients too; if they don’t align with your firm’s growth vision anymore, consider how you can exit from them gracefully for the benefit of your practice).
Going with your gut feeling
So the train I was on had a slight issue but eventually dealt with the signalling failure and took me on to my destination; this is when I realised that my gut feeling didn’t like this prospect. I was only going because of the other team members.
While it might be another potential client for the Accountants’ Growth Club, my main feeling was “if I don’t like this prospect, how likely am I to do a good job selling myself and allowing her to sell herself to me?” The answer is not likely.
All the processes in the world can only ever inform you. They can help you challenge your inner-self but your gut feeling will normally win. Be aware of that gut feeling and think about how you will politely decline potential work if it doesn’t feel right.
Remember you can do this as work you don’t want is a time waster preventing you from getting the bigger and better clients that you do want. (Get bigger clients and grow a one million accountancy practice with our 6 essential ingredients).
Your team - your processes
Why was I going to the meeting? I overrode my gut instinct because others in the team had spoken to her (so I didn’t want to let them down) and one member had jumped protocol and booked the meeting without the normal phone call first.
Let me rephrase that. The real problem (or time waster) was that I hadn’t communicated things clearly. Do you?
Some firms have been targeting one niche (in the owner's mind), while the rest of the team were advertising for other clients. Getting your team involved with your processes and strategy is critical, especially when it comes to being efficient and effective with your time. (Are you working too much IN your firm? Find out now with our tool).
So, while business development is obviously good for growing your accountancy practice, it can be really limiting to growth if you’re dedicating time to the wrong activities. If you make sure that you are filtering leads, taking on the type of business that you want and can handle, and are communicating with your team, you will have peace of mind that your time is only spent only on things that will propel your business forward.