I had a great lunch with a colleague recently and the topic turned to Rainmaking. She shared with me that even though she’s trying to build her business, she’s had to cut back significantly on her networking activities because she has so many other things that compete for her time. We can all relate – right?
But it’s a delicate balance. If we do less networking, it’s difficult to meet the people who will become clients or referral sources – particularly when the business is young or in growth mode. Having not enough time is always a problem. So, how do we engage in the very important tasks of Rainmaking and still find balance? Here are some of my suggestions:
Take stock of the many things pulling at you and competing for your time. Is it existing client projects? Family? Non-profit or philanthropic areas you may be involved in (charities or your church)? Ask yourself,
“What is the most important thing for me to be doing right now to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself?” This is where written goal setting is so important. Some time ago, when you weren’t so crazily busy and being pulled in 100 directions, you sat down and told yourself what you really wanted to accomplish this year. And, if you did it well, you probably carved out goals for your business and your personal life. Now, pull out that paper and ask yourself if your goals have really changed, or if life has just come in and made it more challenging? If building your business is a stated priority, find a way to allocate some time to that and maybe reallocate in other areas of your life. Could your spouse help pick up the kids one extra night per week? Can you hire a housekeeper to do some of the heavy lifting? Can you do some of that client project from home, rather than commute several hours per day? Sometimes it’s just a matter of thinking differently about the things that steal away the minutes of our days.
It can be hard to delegate marketing or Rainmaking activities – particularly if you own your business and are the key person responsible for driving revenue. Unless you can afford to hire a salesperson (and many times in start-up or growth mode we cannot), you’ll still have to do much of it yourself. Continue reading “Rainmaking – Finding the Time & Balance”
As Rainmakers, we have to make daily decisions about where to focus our energy. If you’re in the business of just selling work (as opposed to fulfilling client projects as well), it’s relatively easy to decide. But most of us are pulled in many directions with competing priorities. And while we all inherently deal with these things daily, sometimes it’s good to take a deeper look at where we are spending our time, money and energy.
I’ve had a few occasions lately to think about what the investment of these three valuable commodities means in terms of my business and my life. Here are some areas where making an investment can really pay off in building your sales pipeline:
Join and remain active in professional associations and groups
A large part of building your referral base is in networking with the right target market. First you have to find them, of course. But once you know who you want to building relationships with, you’ve got to get in the room with them. Oftentimes a component of that is joining professional associations related to your field, or the field of your target audience. For example, I’m a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance, and ProVisors, to name a few. I pay my annual dues to each of these organizations, and often pay additional amounts for events, dinner meetings, etc. Payment of those dues (the financial investment) is the basic entrance fee to get in the door. But the time spent attending events for each of those groups can add up as well. And the level of energy we bring to the party in terms of personal commitment can make a huge difference. Let’s say that a member pays the annual dues, attends the monthly meetings, and then enjoys the speaker presentation. Sure, she’ll meet a few people and exchange a few business cards, and maybe even feel invested. Well, maybe! But what if, instead, the member paid her dues, took an active role on the local board of directors or on a committee, and then came to each meeting with a goal of meeting 4 new people and scheduling lunch with 2 of them. Not much more money. Certainly a little more time. But cranking up the engagement and energy a little can provide big results. You’re no longer just a member – you’re an engaged member!
It’s the first week of July – the midpoint of the year! If you’re the kind of business owner who likes to pause and take stock of where your company is at a given time – this is a pretty good time to do it. In my Rainmaking courses I talk to my participants a lot about accountability. If you don’t stop and periodically review key indicators in your firm like progress toward your sales goals for the year, the progress (and potential lagging points) of longer projects, your collection rate on receivables, and your rate per hour (or profitability of fixed fee projects, if applicable), then how will you know how to adjust in the next half of the year? This is particularly important for those in the businesses of selling services – like accountants, attorneys, and consultants. Your inventory is time. Are you on track with your inventory management?
Building a sales pipeline is one of the areas that truly does require regular review – much more frequently than just at the midpoint of the year, in my opinion. But, if you haven’t been regularly reviewing it or honestly even engaging with it, this is a good time to get re-energized. “The year is half over?” OR “The second half of the year is just beginning!” So much of what we do when we lead service businesses is to find ways to motivate ourselves every day to keep up the good work. That includes combining a positive mind-set with accountability. Continue reading “Rainmaking – Mid Year Accountability”
When you think about building your business pipeline, going to networking events, and proactively reaching out to call on clients and prospects, do you feel overwhelmed? Not sure where to start? Not sure how to genuinely build those relationships that will hopefully someday lead to projects or referrals?
As I work with professionals, they often tell me that the thought of building a pipeline and engaging in the activities that will ultimately lead to strengthening relationships seem daunting. It seems particularly difficult after a typical “busy season” – like for accountants coming off of tax season. They’ve been so buried in technical work for so many months, that it seems even harder to get back in the swing of reaching out to their contacts and heating up the pipeline for future work. Why is that? Maybe because they are out of practice – or because they just don’t enjoy it. That’s where I can help! I help people formulate and launch a program to build their professional pipelines.
And speaking of “launching”, I’m also excited to officially launch my new website dedicated to helping people learn how to build their pipelines and “Jumpstart Your Rainmaking”! While I’ve already been actively engaged in this part of my business for the past couple years, seeing the newly branded website makes me even more excited to share my rainmaking experiences with my readers.
A few weeks ago, I posted here about putting my Jumpstart Your Rainmaking program on sale. It was Black Friday and I wanted to participate! (Of course, most of the time, we think of “on sale” as pertaining to tangible goods.) How many of us who sell professional services would ever think to put them “on sale”? It’s not something I had ever considered before. But let’s imagine it for a minute…how the billboard ads might read….
Multi-state sales tax consulting services…”Call to sign up for a multi-state nexus review in the next 24 hours, and I’ll cut my fees by 25%”
IT support: “For December only, we’ll give you all the support for half the price!”
Realtor: “Today only – Offer on your house? We’ll cut the commission by 15%”
Not likely. Right? So, I’m not advocating that we’d ever really be in the business of putting our services “on sale”.
My business contacts and blog readers have heard from me quite a bit lately because I’m actively promoting my quarterly webinar series – Jumpstart Your Rainmaking. I’ve been sending out email blasts, writing more blogs about Rainmaking, and telling everyone I know about this. Why? Because I’d like to fill the virtual conference room. As you know from reading my blogs, even though I’ve been building my business for years, the Rainmaking training part of my business is relatively new. The multi-state part is over 15 years old. And I’m trying to draw some attention to the new.
There’s a section in my Rainmaking training where I discuss sales mindset, and why sometimes it’s difficult to get into the sales mindset. That’s because cold-selling can be hard. And honestly, selling the Rainmaking training has been harder than I thought too. It’s different than selling multistate tax services. So, I thought it would be a good discussion.
Happy Day After Thanksgiving to you and yours! This blog is posting on Black Friday. Why do I have time to write a blog today? Because I’m NOT one of the 137 million Americans who will begin their Christmas shopping – either in stores or online this weekend. Yes, wholly 40% of Americans shop this weekend. But it’s not a tradition that I partake in. For all of you that DO – you’ll certainly be in good company. Enjoy and charge safely out there!
But the thought of Black Friday got me thinking about the concept of offering special deals in general. Should service providers like CPAs, attorneys and other professionals ever offer specials? I’m in the process of offering one right now. Not in my multistate business, but on the Rainmaking side of the house. And I’m still trying to decide if it’s a good idea. Continue reading “It’s On Sale”
As we edge closer to the end of 2016, some of you may already be thinking about setting your goals for 2017. And, if you’re not, maybe you should be! In that spirit, we are once again preparing to deliver the three part “Jumpstart Your Rainmaking” webinar series, beginning December 7th. If you’re a follower of this blog and my communications, you know that we discuss topics designed for professionals who need to sell their services. It’s tough to go out there and sell yourself every day! Jumpstart focuses on how to develop the skills to keep your pipeline filled and how to generate revenue. Prior webinar participants have included CPAs, bookkeepers, attorneys, financial planners and even virtual administrative assistants. We are offering the webinar series now to help you put together a plan prior to year-end so that you’ll be ready to go with it come January 1. Won’t that feel good?
Why Take This Class?
You may be thinking – “Wait, Monika specializes in multi-state tax consulting!” That’s true. And as part of my practice, several years ago, I had to develop a system that would work for me to build my business. In the process of building that system over the years, I realized that it’s also teachable. So, in addition to having passion for helping clients navigate state tax issues, I also have passion for helping people understand how to build businesses and generate revenue. Why? It’s nice to help others grow and share in their success. I’ve had a lot of help over the years, and I want to pay it forward as well. Continue reading “Kicking Off Another Webinar Series”
Most of us don’t like to have to go out and sell – partly because it makes us feel like we are “asking” for money. In my last Rainmaking blog, I asserted that it’s hard to ask for money and that theme continues to resonate. But what if asking for money were easier? What if it didn’t have to seem like asking for money? What if asking your clients to assist them with their tax, accounting and finance needs just seemed like an ordinary part of the conversation?
As accountants, many of us want to be valued by our clients because we are technically competent and trusted business advisors. But we don’t like to have to sell to them. And we certainly hate the thought of cold calling – it doesn’t really work in our businesses anyway! As partners or owners of firms, we understand that we must bring in business to survive, but younger staff members may not truly get that message – either because they simply don’t like to sell or because they are not receiving guidance from their supervisors. And we can all feel a little bit guilty about that. Yet, in order to build thriving CPA practices (or other professional services firms in general), we must be able to have the selling conversation with our staff so that they begin to add those skills. It begins largely with focusing on our existing clients and how we can provide additional value-added services to them. Here are some suggestions:
Ask people some of their least favorite things to do (at least professionally) – and you’re likely to get some familiar responses – public speaking, firing an employee (or a client), getting into confrontation, and selling! And selling professional services often tops that list – even for salespeople.
When I was in high school, I worked at an ice cream shop. What a great job. I got to serve ice cream, make sundaes and banana splits, shakes, and ice cream cakes and pies. I was on the giving end of happiness. And people on the other side of the counter were happy to be there. I didn’t have to worry about selling much because people were already in the store to be happy! But one day our store manager asked us all to attend a sales training seminar. I was 18 and remember the pitch like it was yesterday – it was called SMASH – “Sell More and Sell High” –and they were talking about ice cream. What did they want us to do as high schoolers pitching ice cream? Turn a single scoop into a double, or a small shake into a large shake. Ask customers if they wouldn’t rather have a waffle cone for a small extra charge. Inquire about upcoming birthdays and sell a cake or pie. So, even in the ice cream store, where happiness was already built in and people already were going to buy something, there was an opportunity to offer them more happiness, and more profit for the store. Maybe that’s when I truly became an entrepreneur!