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”
Last week, I posted here about using video in my marketing efforts around my upcoming webinar series, “Jumpstart Your Rainmaking”. If you’ve been following me, you know that I’m a seasoned tax professional, and have spent the better part of 20+ years helping clients with their multi-state tax needs. My firm specializes in helping middle market companies navigate the complex sales tax and income/franchise tax issues that they’ll encounter as they do business in multiple states.
Hello Rainmaking readers! Several weeks ago, I shared my perspective about the difference between direct and indirect marketing strategies, and how those of us who sell professional services should use a combination of both in order to generate business. I mentioned that the most important strategy (if you could only do one of them) is the direct strategy – the one-on-one contacts with your target audience or referral partners. But, indirect marketing like your website, blogs and video (among others) are a nice complement – and hopefully you have time, resources and a little bit of energy to dedicate to that as well.
Why Use Video?
Images and videos are much more compelling to your audience than simply sending newsletters (electronic or paper…paper??) or link to websites. That’s why my blogs always include an image, always include links to more information, and sometimes include links to video. That’s because, I’ve just recently found an affordable way to share video. I tried it last December. And then had so much fun with it that I’m rolling out a 5 day “Rainmaking Forecast” to promote my Jumpstart Your Rainmaking program. Continue reading “Using Video in Indirect Marketing”
I’m excited to report that we are once again preparing to deliver the “Jumpstart Your Rainmaking” webinar series, beginning May 4. If you’ve been following this blog and my communications, you know that the series is designed for professionals selling services. It focuses on how to develop the skills to keep your pipeline filled and how to generate revenue. I had initially planned on focusing mostly on CPAs and bookkeepers, but have had seminar participants from law firms, financial planning firms, and even administrative services. And all kinds of service professionals are asking if they can participate. Sure! Continue reading “Kicking off the next webinar series”
Our last Rainmaking blog discussed the importance of following up with people after a successful initial meeting. I suggested that after a networking event, once business cards are exchanged and it has been agreed that we like each other enough to follow up – we should, indeed, follow-up within 48 hours. Interestingly, I gave a presentation on “Jumpstart Your Rainmaking” just last week and someone asked me when it’s too long after the event to follow up. Truly, it’s never REALLY too late if you want to ultimately try to reach someone who you met at a networking event. But the practicality is that we’re all human. We want to feel important. (If you reach out to me within 48 hours, I feel important!) And we all have a lot on our plates AND we go to a lot of networking events. (If you reach out to me within 48 hours, I’m much more likely to remember you and what you do, and why I found you interesting in the first place!)