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.
So, who can benefit from Jumpstart Your Rainmaking? Professionals who must go out and sell their services – either currently to bring business to their practices today, or sometime down the road, as they strive for promotion in their firms. The Jumpstart Your Rainmaking techniques can help seasoned professionals or those at the early stages of their careers. Many of my clients are accountants or accounting firms. But I’ve also helped attorneys, event planners, IT professionals, insurance brokers, realtors, and others who have to sell themselves (to sell their services) every day. My approach is one of sharing with my clients how to engage in the genuine networking and thoughtful follow-up that will ultimately lead to building your book of business. But I also use a logical, proven approach that will appeal to a professional’s mindset. Most of us don’t want to be seen as a “salesperson”. It’s much better to be viewed as a strategic partner for your clients and recommend services or other service providers who will be a good resource for growing their business. If, in the process, you grow your business too, isn’t that a win-win scenario?
I invite you to check out my new website at www.jumpstartrain.com to find out about our latest 3 part webinar series (starting July 12), the customized training programs for firms, and some informational blogs on all kinds of things related to rainmaking. Take a look, and let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear your feedback…and maybe see you at an upcoming Jumpstart Your Rainmaking program!
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!
Have you ever taken one of those personality tests like the Myers Briggs, or DISC that help to nicely or neatly (maybe?) put you in a perfect little box? They can tell you whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, or feeling vs. thinking, or any number of other things about how you’ll get along with certain other personality types. I have a love/hate relationship with those tests. Why? Because I’m convinced that I’m pretty close to the middle on most of the categories, and so I see them as a challenge. “Ha, you little test with 100 questions – you think you know me! Have at it!”
For instance, most of the time, I really enjoy being with other people and I get energy from being in networking situations – an extrovert! My husband will tell you that I love to accept a microphone and speak in front of a crowd – an extrovert! These are good qualities to have if you want to talk about your business, and build a pipeline of referral sources and clients. They need to you know you’re out there. Yet, in the next breath, I could tell you that one of my favorite things is to hang out with a glass of wine and a book on a Friday night – an introvert? And yes, after a speaking engagement, I’d love to just run a nice hot bath and soak alone and not do it again for a few days. A long walk in the park with my dog is my idea of a good time too. Introvert?
A colleague asked me the other day how my Rainmaking program was going. And the answer was, unfortunately, “It’s going well, but not taking off as quickly as I’d like it to.” After thinking about it, I got mad at myself and decided to shift the conversation to “It’s going amazingly well – thanks for asking!” The conversation needed to be reframed in order to honor the dream and the encouragement I’ve received from my friends and colleagues. So, thank you!
If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you’ll know that most of the time it centers on practical tips and articles about multistate tax issues – my primary business. But, if you search “Rainmaking” within the blog, you’ll also know that I’m following along-time dreamto share the experiences and knowledge of building a successful consulting practice with fellow CPAs and other service providers who want to fill their pipelines. So, for several months at the beginning of the year, we featured weekly or bi-weekly posts on the Rainmaking topic as well. And then…it became much more sporadic. Ultimately, it’s been quite a while since we’ve dedicated a post to Rainmaking. So, this blog is a refresh!
If you’ve been following my Rainmaking blogs, you know that much of what we talk about is developing relationships that ultimately lead to becoming a trusted business advisor to both potential clients and referral partners. Why is it so important to engage in Rainmaking and pick up that next client? Well, aside from the obvious reason – that it leads to cash today, it will also likely lead to cash tomorrow. Once we build a relationship with a customer and provide good service, they will generally become a repeat customer and/or a good source of future referrals. Continue reading “The Value of the Next Client”