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12 biggest mistakes made by accountants


Every accountancy firm we have met in the last 30 years has been making at least 1 of these mistakes. Discover those that you are making and how to avoid them in order to get best results for your …

Every accountancy firm we have met in the last 30 years has been making at least 1 of these mistakes. Discover those that you are making and how to avoid them in order to get best results for your practice.

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  • 1. The 12 Biggest Mistakes Made ByAccountancy Firms And How To Avoid Them 25 TRUSTED BY A Yrs C C O UN TANTS by Insight
  • 2. A STORM HAS ARRIVED Introduction Most accountancy firms are great at advising clients on how to make more money, how to save more tax and how to keep on the straight and narrow as far as HMRC is concerned. Yet when it comes to promoting and growing their own practices they are, to put it kindly, less than perfect. Ask an accountant to give you chapter and verse on the latest tax changes and they won’t come up for breath until they have explained every nook and cranny of the legislation – clearly and concisely. Ask the same accountant to ‘sell’ their services to a prospective new client and they will bluster their way through it – unconvincing. OK that’s a broad-brush assessment, but in our experience of working with accountants for more than 25 years, one which is generally true. ‘sales’ and ‘marketing’ are not words which sit happily with most accountants, yet being a successful firm in todays market has more to do with marketing and sales than it has to do with providing good accounting advice. That’s why, in this report, we aim to point out a few simple ideas which can help transform your practice. At any time, these mistakes will hold you back from the growth you want to achieve, so in the present economic climate it’s absolutely essential that you use this report to highlight any areas of under-performance – and fix them, fast! Distilled from our 25 year experience in working with accountancy firms of all sizes right across the UK, these ideas are sure to raise a few questioning eyebrows. Yet deep down we’re sure you’ll recognise that they are essential for the growth of any business – even accountancy practices! The rules always apply; the tactics always work and the strategies always achieve the desired result: a more profitable and healthy business. Take your time to read through and understand these ideas. In the current climate, they could well make the difference between growth and stagnation in your practice. We hope you find the information both challenging and rewarding, and I hope you will join me at one of our many live events soon. Warm regards David Oliver David Oliver Founder Tel: 0800 80 30 826 Email: davido@insight-marketing.com2 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 3. Contents4// Mistake # OneLack of a proactive plan or strategy for growth6// Mistake # TwoA generic website, stuffed full of normal copy, calculators andcontent that will generate very few online enquiries8// Mistake # ThreeFailing to seriously consider and pilot a pay per click campaign.10// Mistake # FourNo genuine referral process or customer care12// Mistake # FiveUsing internal staff for sales14// Mistake # SixFailing to run a telemarketing campaign or manage one correctly16// Mistake # SevenNot monitoring performance results and ROI on sales and marketing18// Mistake # EightWasting money20// Mistake # NineHaving no support information, marketing collateral or agreedcorporate message22// Mistake # TenLack of vision to see beyond the past23// Mistake # ElevenPoor proposals28// Mistake # TwelveNo sales of marketing training30// Grow Your Firm 2011A full day workshop packed with new material and practical, provenides to grown your firm in a new economy32// Testimonials34// Our Values by Insight 3
  • 4. Mistake # One Lack of a proactive plan or strategy for growth Without a sales and marketing plan, your practice could be drifting aimlessly, like a ship without a destination. You may be lucky and reach somewhere interesting, on the other hand, you may flounder on the rocks. Without a plan of action – a vision of where the business is heading – your chances of creating a thriving, practice are not good.4 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 5. Lack of a proactive plan or strategy for growthThese are either the very best of times or the worst of times!Whilst many debate whether or not we will face a double dip recession, even more are still being hit by the first andare struggling to survive. So many industries have been affected and with such poor governmental control, thousandsof businesses are left without help.The result for the Top 50 firms has been self evident, with 3,000 job losses in less than 12 months. Phil Shohet of KatoConsultancy predicts a similar number will go in the next year or so. With almost half achieving lower growth rates than5%, it can, for most readers, simply become a depressing read. Bombarded by negative press and some of the worststatistics in centuries, it is little wonder most accountancy firms have simply battened down the hatches.How is it then, that amongst all the doom and gloom, some firms are thriving?As the majority of accountancy firms turn inward and become introspective, their clients are crying out for more. Astheir most trusted advisor it is little wonder it is you they want to turn to for advice, support and help. It is your firmthey want to guide them through this financial minefield and secure the future of their company. This cannot be done ifkey partners energy and leadership is focused on cutting their own spend. Firms are losing clients as business ownersdesperately look for more from their accountant, and the firms winning this business are those with a clear strategyfor growth.Some believe that what they have always done will continue to work. They have a glossy brochure or wallet with aninsert; membership with the local Chamber of Commerce, perhaps an ad locally and a sponsorship on a roundabout.They get a trickle of ‘word-of-mouth’ recommendations plus friends and family – but that’s about it. Yes, these willgenerate new business at relatively low cost, but they should be part of an overall structured programme of new clientacquisition strategies, NOT the only method used.Where there is no planned programme of sales and marketing activities, it’s highly unlikely that there will be anysustained growth or development of the practice. To achieve effective growth right now in the current climate, a firmneeds a vision of where they want their practice to be in 3, 5 and 10 years time, together with a programme of proven,accountable sales and marketing strategies consistently applied to help them achieve those goals.Without a plan, your practice is rudderless. So the first step is to agree a Strategy forGrowth, includingSpecific, quantifiable goals need to have been set. You need to implement a proven and trusted programme of salesand marketing activities, which will enable you to hit your targets and make sure there is a solid support frameworkwhich monitors and measures each activity. by Insight 5
  • 6. Mistake # Two A generic website, stuffed full of normal copy, calculators and content that will generate very few online enquiries Thousands of firms have opted for a generic website, with little or no thought to their digital strategy. These firms are missing out on a vast number of potential customers searching for accountancy firms.6 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 7. Weak websites and poor content don’t workA poor website or no website = little or no business won onlineDigital Marketing works - and it’s here to stay! Every month the number of accountancy and accountancy-relatedonline searches is increasing, with more than 10 million each month in the UK alone. Yet almost all accountancy firmscan do far more with their current website, some do not even have one at all.The era of cheap templates – stuffed full of generic content, calculators and copy isdead!Bland online brochure type websites of your firm stuffed full of purchased content will not rank your site highly online,so potential customers simply will not find you and those that are directed to your site, perhaps through a referral orword of mouth will probably be unimpressed if they do.Websites for accountants are a proven source of high quality enquiries and newbusinessYour website should be generating you enquiries and attracting the profile of potential customers you want. Most of thefirms we work with are ideally looking for GRF £3000 + per annum. Websites carefully designed, developed and writtencombined with a digital marketing strategy to promote them, will produce the type of enquiries they are designed togenerate.It can be a minefield to work throughAsk any accountant to give you an update on the recent tax changes and most will explain every nook and crannyof the legislation. Ask the same accountant to explain their digital marketing strategy and most will bluster their waythrough – highly unconvincing. Therefore the very first step we encourage all firms to take (if you have a site) is toregister for a FREE independent website diagnostic report. If you don’t yet have a website at all please contact usto discuss this with you. This report analyses your competitors who currently have a top 10 position on Google, andcompares them against your own web page. It tells you in plain English how the top performing competitors achievedtheir Google ranking and what you can change to obtain a similar or better ranking. You are free to implement thefindings of this report yourself or to discuss with our team how we can help you improve your web presence. by Insight 7
  • 8. Mistake # Three Failing to seriously consider and pilot a pay per click campaign8 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 9. Failing to seriously consider and pilot a pay per click campaignPay Per Click - A no brainerPay Per Click marketing (PPC) puts your firms message in front of prospects who are actually looking for an accountant.What’s more, you only pay for the people that actually click on your add and then visit your site. No clicks = no moneyspent, it really is that simple. You can tweak and improve specific phrases, spending more on those, and stop runningindividual phrases that dont work. It’s totally measurable, easily tracked and limited in terms of what you spend. Itwon’t create thousands of enquiries but it will generate a regular supply of quality leads for your firm. Therefore it’s anabsolute must for all firms with a good online site that can convert clicks to enquiries.A correctly set up and well managed PPC campaign will actually pre-qualify your visitors to find quality traffic for yoursite and can target ads by day of the week, time of day and level of intent. It works in real time, so can quickly boostthe number of quality enquiries your firm receives within days of setting up a campaign.What is the Scale of the Opportunity?Every month, it is estimated that there are well over 10 million searches for accountancy and accounting relatedsearches. Even just in searches using Google in the UK, the figures are staggering. Here are some examples:• 1,220,000 monthly searches for ‘Accounting’• 1,000,000 monthly searches for ‘Accountant’ or ‘Accountants’• 1,000,000 monthly searches for ‘Accountancy’• 77,0000 monthly searches for ‘Chartered Accountant’ or ‘Chartered Accountants’• 41,000 monthly searches for ‘Management Accountant’• 22,220 monthly searches for ‘Tax Advice’Even if we assume that some of these searches are the same searchers trying again, we can realistically assume thatwell over 3 million individuals are searching for the kinds of services you supply.Does it Really Work for Accountants?The truth is we are all sceptical about new things, 10 years ago very few firms had a website and many of those whichdid exist were not very good. Now, things have moved on apace, and good quality sites are the norm, rather than theexception. Smart firms realise that digital marketing strategy plays a significant role in helping to win business.It is accepted that most potential new clients will ‘Google’ your practice name before considering working with you,or even contacting you. If your firm’s site does not come up, or even exist, then you are much less likely to ever hearfrom new clients – and you may never discover that this is an issue for your firms’ growth.However, for every searcher who has heard of your business name, there are hundreds of thousands more who arelooking for the kinds of services you provide – but have not heard of you. So, if they are seeking and they don’t seeyour message, then how do you reach them? The most effective means is in the use of effective PPC marketing. Doesit work? The short answer is ‘yes’: let us show you how. by Insight 9
  • 10. Mistake # Four No genuine referral process or customer care Comments from North East Accountancy award winners 2010 and Accountancy Age finalists 2010 “ Having worked with Insight for over 10 years we can comfortably say they have been instrumental in the success of our practice and have supported our firm exceptionally well. We cannot recommend Insight highly enough. David and his team are fantastic presenters and their assistance over the past 10 years has been the key to our firm’s ” growth. Thoburn £ Chapman10 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 11. No genuine referral process or customer careNo referral processOne of the best sources of new business for accountancy firms is of course referrals. Based on our research (takenduring 2009 from over 400 firms), an average 70% of their new business came from word of mouth and referrals.Moreover, we have found that the conversion rate from referral type appointments was very high with many firmsconverting 70 – 80% or more to new business. With such strong proven positives, what is perhaps surprising it thatvery few firms actually have a process in place for generating referrals.According to Mark Lloydbottom in “Clients4Life”, 97% of clients would happily recommend their accountants, however96% have never been asked to do so. Furthermore, 26 out of 27 people who have had a bad experience with a firmwon’t complain. They simply change firms and don’t come back. How many complaints do you get to hear about?To generate a constant flow of top quality leads, a practice needs a systematic referral process which automaticallygenerates new leads whenever you ask for them. By using a formal system, rather than haphazard, occasional activitieswhich inevitably get pushed to the back of the work queue, you transform your lead generation activities and theybecome part of the everyday fabric of your business. The trouble is, most accountants don’t like asking for referrals.A unique service to help retain clients and grow your firmThis unique customer care process has been developed over our 25 + year history. Most firms quickly grasp the valueof the customer survey process, which fits with most firm’s natural strengths, capitalising on the relationships built withcustomers, often over many years. One firm called it the holy grail for accountancy firms.A customer survey is the only means by which an accountant is likely to get a true understanding of the likes anddislikes of their customers. This customer feedback along with a unique benchmarking report is the driving factor forfirms to make suitable changes that often impress customers further. Repeat business and new business opportunitiesarise when your customers trust you and share this with others – this survey process achieves just that.Some more good news about this special service:• This is a low cost, high return service• It requires almost no effort on your part – we do all the work• It protects your customers at a time when competition is high• It gains highly valuable feedback• Receive a benchmark report of your performance against others• Generate requests for more business• Gain referrals and testimonials from happy customers• Win new clients from referral opportunities by Insight 11
  • 12. Mistake # Five Using internal staff for sales12 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 13. Using internal staff for salesInternal staffYour staff are put under pressure to perform at something they have not been trained to do. The results are inevitablydisappointing for both the practice and the staff – and the financial implications could be huge. Delegating sales andmarketing tasks to a secretary, PA or administrator may seem like a good use of resources at the time, but will rarelyprovide the results you are hoping for. They have other roles and duties to fulfil in the workplace and are unlikely to bethe right people to perform these tasks. (If you have an exceptional staff member who is talented, enthusiastic and isable to work within a team which supports their work on a daily basis, then see Mistake #9 to avoid destroying theirmorale).Partners also may feel they should take their share of the ‘new client recruitment’ burden. Yet using a partner’s time tomake cold calls is another questionable use of a scarce, and expensive, resource.The reality is that the environment in most accountants’ offices seldom supports great sales people. Those working ina sales environment are faced with rejection on a daily basis and need support and encouragement at a level which isunlikely to be found in a busy accountancy practice.Companies do not change their accountant simply on the strength of a mail shot or a telephone call. In our experience,the services an accountant provides are different from those of any other professional service company. Generatingnew clients consequently demands a unique strategy, one that is not considered to be ‘typical sales’ with a scripted oraggressive approach. On your behalf, we can professionally and sensitively uncover the true needs of each prospect,and where these clearly match the services you offer, an appointment is made. This unique structure means you onlyobtain quality appointments, not wasted visits. A process of clear prospect profiling enables us to build relationshipswith the right type of contact – over days, weeks, or even months. Given the nature of the relationship an accountanthas with each client, this professional and relational approach is preferred by many quality firms who wish to securegrowth while developing their reputation. by Insight 13
  • 14. Typical investment 52 days telemarketing (this can be over 12 or 24 months) £495 per day x 52 days = £25,740 Expected appointments 40 appointments (although we always aim for more than this) Expected customers 10 new clients (this is based on 1 in 4 conversion rate, higher is often possible) Expected ROI £50,000 (based on R.F.I of £5K per annum which is our average) £350,000 ROI over lifetime value (based on 7 years) Mistake # Six Failing to run a telemarketing campaign or managing one correctly Telemarketing is one of the most proven and reliable forms of lead generation and database development for accountants – yet it’s also the easiest to get disastrously wrong. Firms which are keen to grow and win new clients, often try telemarketing. Sadly, we speak to accountancy firms almost every week that have ploughed money and time into telemarketing and got nothing in return. It’s little wonder then the word ‘telemarketing’ is taboo in some firms. The mere mention of it conjures up painful memories of paying lots of money for poor quality appointments. On the other hand, many firms have used telemarketing as a successful way to generate a steady flow of quality appointments to produce first class clients. So how can there be such a significant divide of experience, results and opinions? If correctly set up, carried out, and managed, telemarketing remains one of the most proven, reliable and profitable way to win high quality new clients for accountancy firms. That is why we recommend that any firm looking to win customers who spend £4000 + per annum on their accountancy fees take a serious look at telemarketing.14 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 15. Failing to run a telemarketing campaign or managing one correctlyTelemarketingThe typical ROI you could expect from a well structure campaign should be:Below is a brief summary of some of the things to get right when considering a campaign or reviewing a current one.1. Do not expect immediate or short term results, if you are looking for quality customers spending £4,000 and above per annum then these relationships take time to generate. Be wary of any firm that promises quick results through telemarketing.2. Don’t use telemarketing as a standalone strategy Telemarketing is particularly effective with the database created and intelligence gained through calling is incorporated into a broader strategy. This can include digital marketing, direct mail, social networking, email marketing, newsletters etc.3. Make sure you have a full briefing that covers the strategy, marketing message and reporting process. When we run these sessions, we work around a very simplistic structure Reputation, Results, Relationships and reporting.4. Make sure you know who is calling for you and what they know about your firm. The person calling for you is representing your firm, its therefore important they know enough about you to call without scripts.5. Ensure your website is ready almost everyone that is approached by phone will if interested, check your firm out online. If your site is not ready, or will put potential customers off then do not start until it’s ready.6. Ensure you have supporting material – Your campaign should be targeted profitable owner managed businesses or larger corporate companies. They will often want information on your firm prior to agreeing to meet with you. If you don’t have information that supports the calling, don’t start until you do.7. When finding new clients don’t forget your best source of customers REFERRALS. Without question the no.1 source of new customers for your firm should be referrals and word of mouth. If you have not commissioned a customer care call that ensures your clients are happy and asks for a referral then ensures that this is built into your offline sales and marketing strategy.8. Do not rush data searches or get the data wrong! If the database is wrong, everything else subsequently will be wrong – its really that simple. And it does not stop there, once you have purchased a database we encourage regular reviews of the data being called to improve results. ©9. Measure everything – Test, Measure, Adapt, and Improve TMAI you can test every part of your campaign and that is one of the great things about sophisticated telemarketing. Make sure that your campaign is constantly tested, measured, adapted and results improve.10. The appointment itself – an appointment generated through telemarketing will be very different than a referral appointment. Therefore you must approach it differently or you will not convert. We use a simple four stage process Perception, Preparation, Presentation and Proposition. Make sure your perception of the appointments is accurate before attending and do not expect the warm, glowing reception you might get from a referral. Do prepare thoroughly for the appointment, try to build trust before attending and be prepared for the appointment itself. Presentation is an art on its own, do work together as a partnership to develop a clear presentation to use where appropriate. Finally once you have had a positive meeting be clear how you are going to ‘close’ the meeting to achieve the objective you desire.11. Be ready to negotiate – some firms fail to benefit from the opportunity to negotiate with potential customers, many don’t even discuss fees in the meeting. The sooner you bring up the value of your service and the fee associated with it the better. Providing you have a process for negotiation.12. Don’t send out poor proposals – After so much work has gone into generating the appointments, don’t blow your chances by sending out a run of the mill, boring and extremely dull proposal. by Insight 15
  • 16. Mistake # Seven Not monitoring performance results and ROI on sales and marketing Despite working with figures on a daily basis, many accountants shy away from understanding the maths of their own sales and marketing campaigns. They will analyse their clients’ expenditure to the nth degree, but fail to apply even simple analysis to their own. They tend to work to an annual ‘marketing budget’ and expect to generate sufficient new clients from the activities which arise from the budget to sustain the practice growth. The reality is that within those activities there may be some which are working very well and providing excellent ROI – whereas others are simply not performing. By investigating the cost breakdown more deeply, they could easily cut out the wasteful activities and do more of the better-performing ones. Of course, all of us want predictable and reliable results, but how do we get them? We want to achieve our monthly or cumulative targets, but how do can we do that © with confidence? For any marketing activity you need to apply this simple acronym: TMAI . It’s a simple process which needs to be embedded into your firm’s culture. In a recession you should always be looking at how to squeeze more value out of a budget, whatever its size! This presupposes that you have a budget in the first place. The reality is, whether it’s defined or not, all of us have a budget for sales and marketing. Sometimes, it’s hidden, random and haphazard. The danger then is, that the expenditure is not tracked, measured or tested, and usually that means it’s wasteful. As a result, we do not spend enough on the right things to get the new business results we want.16 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 17. Not monitoring performance results and ROI on sales and marketingMeasured ROISo how much is enough? Different companies have different suggestions. There is the percentage approach whichgives 2%, 5% or 7.5% of total sales to the sales & marketing budget. The percentage approach is simply not the rightway. It may be too little; it may be too much. At best, it’s a shot in the dark. A better place to start, is to determine howmuch new business you would like to see, and then to think through the strategies (and the cost) to attract that levelof business. If you have previous results from a variety of sales and marketing approaches, you can work out historicalcosts, cost per lead and cost per sale of each marketing approach. Then determine the best combination and planthis year’s expenditure on last year’s actual results. The table below can be a useful prompt to help you extract thefigures you need. Response Total number Leads:appts Appts:orders Total cost Total business Acquisition cost per rates of leads £’s order Email Seminars PPC Direct Mail Advertising Referrals Networks Appt Generation Website including SEOAs a rough rule of thumb you can use 10:3:1 (leads: appointments: orders) If you have no previous figures to rely on ©and no idea what the costs for various marketing approaches might be, then you need to undertake the TMAI (TestMeasure Adapt Improve) procedure. To the best of your ability, project what the likely outcomes are for each marketingapproach then choose some or all of those approaches to Test, Measure, Adapt and Improve.Once you see some results, you can begin to evaluate the relative cost efficiencies of each approach and your budgetstarts to take shape. (NB the first column has been filled with realistic figures which may help your first attempts atpredicting some options.)How will you know which marketing approach will work best? The honest answer is you will not. We have already said,“Don’t trust your intuition.” The reality is until you test you will not know. If you can test a variety of approaches it willgive you a breadth of results to help you find what really does work best for you. by Insight 17
  • 18. Mistake # Eight Wasting money Your new client recruitment process grinds to a halt with no new clients and your marketing budget is blown for another 12 months. Do you know if your Yellow Pages advertising is cost-effective? Or sponsorship of the local cricket team? Whatever forms of marketing you are doing, please check the cost and response figures for each one, so you can make an informed decision to continue with them or place your money elsewhere. This should be obvious, but we know that in the heat of battle many firms ignore the basics. As you apply TMAI©, please be ruthless about calling a halt to marketing which isn’t producing a profitable return for you. If you don’t know whether it’s working or not then something is wrong. Advertising can be very wasteful, every ad should be coded and response recorded and measured. Otherwise how do you know if your ad in Accountancy Age or Personnel Today is giving you better brand penetration? I would immediately stop any marketing activity which isn’t designed to get a lead or enquiry and invest it into a different activity which will produce a measurable result. A general rule of thumb in a recession is to halve your advertising spend and invest it instead in direct response marketing or sales and TMAI©.18 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 19. Wasting moneyReduce all costsYes. It’s an obvious point, but one which deserves serious consideration from a slightly different angle than you mayhave imagined.At a time like this, your suppliers are feeling the pinch too. They will be nervous about losing you as a customer andwill be looking for ways to keep your business. If you want to save money and they want to keep your business, thereis an obvious ‘window of opportunity’ to get almost overnight a 10% reduction in some costs.We are not suggesting blackmail or the cosh. You should never knowingly use your negotiation strength to put anothercompany under. However, if it’s in both sides’ interests that you can reduce costs and keep your supplier in business,that’s a win-win. If it makes you stronger, fitter and more able to grow by investing that 10% in more result-generatingmarketing activities, you will have achieved a very worthwhile result.This must also be balanced by a clear sales and marketing strategy for your practice growth. Simply looking at priceswill force your view internally and the results can be very damaging, as one firm we met recently explained, Each officehad been instructed to cut costs and reduce unnecessary spend. In one office this resulted in the admin clerk beingremoved along with the tea lady! Sadly, when they left somehow they took with them the joy of work and once highlevels of motivation for that firm. Some of the partners wanted to leave and one of the senior partners told us - withpain in his face. by Insight 19
  • 20. Mistake # Nine Having no support information, marketing collateral or agreed corporate message Your practice has no distinct identity or status and, to the new business owner looking for an accountancy firm, is a featureless organisation - exactly the same as all the other practices in your town or city.20 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 21. Having no support informationSales support materialHow can you differentiate your practice from your competitors? Ask most accountants and they will mutter somethingabout quality or service. The trouble is, no-one defines what better quality means or how the service is improved,so the comment is meaningless. Consequently for any potential client looking for an accountant, that means there’snothing to help them make a constructive choice.So they decide to phone two or three practices and ask them to send a brochure or some details about their charges.What do they receive? A glossy brochure which tells them there are 4 partners who have been in the practice for 30years and they provide a ‘full range’ of services. Again, there’s no point of differentiation between the firms; nothingwhich highlights the benefits to the client of working with ‘XYZ Accountants’.These days, many customers prefer to receive material by email, so it’s essential to have e-documents or interactivePDFs. Others still like to receive information by mail, especially when being offered professional services.So it’s important to have both types of document. When designed and produced correctly they can work extremelywell in combination. The material should contain a USP (Unique Selling Point) which is so compelling that prospectswould be mad to ignore you. There should always be a clear and concise ‘Call to Action’ to encourage readers to reply,whether that’s by post, email, fax or post.The key here is to think like your clients. What would they be looking for? How would they respond to an offer like this?What are their biggest fears – and how can you alleviate them?Insight have the expertise to ensure your material will be perfectly put together to ensure maximum response. As ateam dedicated to working with accountants and selling their services, we are uniquely positioned to understand whatworks and what doesn’t, and have a media team dedicated to writing and designing material which ‘sings’ to yourclients. Of course, it still tells the client who the partners are and how long they have been with the firm, but the coremessages are all client-focused rather than firm-focused. by Insight 21
  • 22. Mistake # Ten Lack of vision to see beyond the past For many accountants, an accountancy firm is simply a number-crunching shop capable of producing annual audited accounts, tax returns, book-keeping and payroll services. By failing to see beyond their own horizons they are missing out on huge growth potential for their practices. Accountants have traditionally offered a limited range of products and services to their clients: audit and accountancy services, tax advice, book-keeping and payroll for example. Yet in today’s marketplace, it is essential that accountancy firms look far beyond these limited services and begin to think of their practices as resource centres which are capable of providing links, directly and indirectly, to a huge range of business and personal services. In a market which is under constant threat from competition, it is essential that accountants fight to retain their hold on clients by playing a more important role in the lives of the partners and the business itself. Just as the supermarkets have diversified their product offerings as far as electrical good and insurance services, so accountants need to extend their service offerings. Insight Marketing has many years experience of working with partners to create more dynamic services as an essential part of their growth strategies. We also work closely with many major organisations who we feel are ‘best in class’ in providing excellent added-value services for accountants.22 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 23. Mistake # ElevenPoor proposalsOne of the most common questions we are asked is how to compose a sales proposal and or letter that will aid in theselling process not detract from it.At Insight we have conducting intensive in-depth research on this topic. We have a pile of your proposals in our offices,probably some of them your competitors.There’s not one really good one amongst them.Most have been constructed in a way which looks like a preface to a solicitor’s contract. Almost all are badly laid outuse some horrible typefaces – one or two even using comic sans! They appear to be a template lacking any sentenceswhich contain compelling reasons for me as a prospect to go to the trouble of switching my accountants. Let meillustrate just one! by Insight 23
  • 24. Dear Prospect Fixed Price Agreement Accounts for the period ended 31 March 2011 It was a pleasure to meet you on Monday and I trust you found our meeting useful. I have now had a chance to review our costing, and I would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to quote for our services. To avoid any misunderstanding, this fixed price Agreement defines the services ABC Accountants will perform for you for the year ended 31 March 2011. Your Fixed Fee Your investment in our services will be £10,800 plus VAT (£900 plus VAT per month) For this fixed fee we will:- • Prepare the statutory financial statements • Audit those statutory financial statements • Prepare abbreviated financial statements for submission to Companies House • Deal with all business tax matters, including preparing corporation tax computation and preparing and submitting your Corporation Tax Self-Assessment return to HM revenue & Customs • Deal with correspondence from the Inland Revenue Here’s the initial problem, first it’s all about the costs that’s the focus it’s the language and it’s even got the words quote fixed fee and the numbers all on first page. Second it’s all about the accountants and the legal obligations of the service and it’s missing the client’s needs, mood and desire altogether. This is the type of material we cover during our live events, however in this report we want to give you some ideas to take away and implement. Almost all the proposals we look at miss the mark by a long way. A misguided start! Many of the so called proposals that our team are sent to review are not proposals at all. And part of this is at the heart of the issue, what the accountancy firm call a proposal is in fact an agreement or worse a standard ‘quote’. The language used is that of an agreement ‘fixed price agreement’ or ‘our fee quote’, the layout is that of an agreement and the detail is that of an agreement. Often containing the somewhat standard bullet point list of: • Prepare the statutory financial statements • Audit those statutory financial statements • Prepare abbreviated financial statements for submission to companies house • Deal with all business tax matters, including preparing corporation tax computation and preparing and submitting your corporation tax Self-Assessment return to HM Revenue & Customs’ • Deal with correspondence from the Inland Revenue24 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 25. Poor proposalsWorse still many go into fee protection, money laundering, fee analysis, fee menus, agreements, standing order formsand more. These agreements are boring, dull and totally uninspiring. They fail to capture what was discussed duringthe meeting, and have no real direction in terms of what you want the reader to do. They do not capture the mood,need, desire or heart of the opportunity.Therefore the document achieves nothing and a week later, you are left chasing up this poorly conceived document,in the vain hope your prospect might have read it, seen the price and said, ‘okay’. Most decision-makers will roll theireyes as they thumb through the thoughtless black and white text, which only reinforces their view that accountants areboring. If you are going to embark on a telemarketing programme with a view to winning new clients, then the strengthof your proposal document is paramount.Why should you be writing a proposal and how is it different than an agreement?The adopted process for most accountancy firms seems to be as follows:• Attend an appointment with a prospective customer• Send a standard agreement letter with quote• Leave this with the customer for a while before chasing• Gently chase once or twice• No response or reply normally taken as a sign of no interest• You feel rejected• Customer has missed an opportunity to work with a better firm and save taxTWO important rulesEven an excellent proposal will not achieve what you could not achieve face to face. It can however undo what youmay have achieved in a face to face meeting.1. Ask the prospect what their preference and expectation of the proposal is. Do they want a one-page document or a full 20 page paper with a detailed analysis? If they are too busy offer perhaps PowerPoint that you will return with.2. The reason to write a proposal is to explain the problem/need/requirement that the prospect has, how you offer the very best solution, what the benefits will be once they use you, the investment required, how they can pay, testimonials and case studies and a clear next step.Never, ever, send in a proposal - ALWAYS arrange a second meeting to see theprospect face to face.In the current market, decision-makers are fearful and taking longer to make decisions. Changing accountancy firmsis an important business decision, it is strategic, and not a decision anyone should make lightly. It is fair to assumewinning a new customer will require several visits and multiple communications from you before they change firm.Therefore, at the very least, in the first meeting arrange the next face to face meeting. You will be amazed how simplethis may be!Simply explain you would love the opportunity to work with them, therefore can you arrange a meeting to take them by Insight 25
  • 26. through a detailed quotation. There are hundreds of reasons why your proposal may not get read, misunderstood or simply not liked. Therefore don’t leave it to the luck of the draw – adopt a new approach and make sure when you are in the first meeting you get another one. Where to start when you write a proposal Our copyrighting team have been used by many firms to review and re-write proposals, some of them have been instrumental in winning very significant fees. Despite doing this day in, day out, even today when writing a proposal they refer to a simple acronym to help focus each word. We use an acronym ‘WISCDA’. W - Wavelength - quickly get on the clients wavelength I - Create Interest S - Sell benefits C - Add Conviction D - Create Desire A - State Action Wavelength Quickly get on the client’s wavelength - the best way to do that, is to focus on the common ground between you. Write about his requirements, his goals, his department, his solution. Delete the word ‘I’ and your own company name wherever possible, and concentrate on ‘You’. Listen to the words they used in your appointment, and build them back to him in your letter. They will respond favourably to his own words, his subconscious reaction will be, ‘These people are talking my language’ - of course you are! The quickest way to get on the wavelength is to refer to today’s call and to the particular subject or project that you discussed. Getting on his wavelength will increase their confidence in you – something that is vitally important to someone considering a change of firm. WRITE UP 4:1 ROT - Create Interest This refers to the opening, but more particularly to the overall effect of the letter. Ask yourself the questions ‘What would this letter do to me? Does it grab me? Is it interesting?’ We achieve this not with sterile content, but by liveliness and projection. We can make our letters lively with the use of short words, short sentences and short paragraphs. Research shows that people find eight-word sentences easiest to understand and easiest to digest. On the other hand, sentences of thirty words or more are hard to understand and hard to follow. So we try for sentences averaging twenty words or less. The words used, need to be clear, precise, and unambiguous. With the spoken word we have the added advantage of26 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 27. voice inflection. We don’t have that with a letter: the words have to stand or fall on their own merit. The recipient can’task questions for clarification: we need to get it right.Plus indent two or at the most three paragraphsSell BenefitsIf we do nothing else, we must get this right. The letter must, with strength, give a reason to buy. Benefits are thepayload of the letter. They are the reason that you get business in the absence of track record.In the letter, or the proposal clearly restate the benefits. Align them with his words, his concepts. Where you can, placeparticular emphasis on the key benefit or key benefits that you detected in your visit. Parcel the letter around benefits.Remember, benefits whet the appetite and make your prospect thirsty.Conviction And BelievabilityPeople in the buying environment are tired of hype: at best they will be sceptical. So how do we retain conviction orbelievability?• Quantify wherever you can, with facts, figures, amounts and savings.• Quote genuine, convincing case stories or client comments.• Avoid servile phrases such as ‘We beg to inform you’.• Avoid exaggerated claims or superlatives words like fantastic, wonderful, brilliant, marvellous• Write conversationally write just how you speakConfidence cannot be built on words or concepts that sound, ‘Over the top’ or appear untrustworthy. The written wordcan be believed more readily than the spoken word - which is another reason for keeping the letter believable.DesireWhen he gets to the end of our letter, the prospect should be thinking, ‘This company is a good find’, or ‘This solutionis obviously right for me’. It should affirm the feeling of rightness which our prospect should have towards us.ActionThis is crucial and many people get it wrong. In most cases we are at a stage in the relationship where we follow thegolden rule of, ‘Always maintain the initiative’. What we mean simply, is that we determine the next course of action,not the prospect. We restate it in the letter, to nudge the sale forward one step. It is a commitment, it forces us to DOthe agreed action, and makes it very easy for us to call back, when we said we would, ‘As promised’.The majority of letters will state the action you are taking. We never end a letter by saying, ‘Please let me know if yourequire further information’, or ‘We look forward to hearing from you’. That is the cardinal sin of letter-writing. Instead,write, ‘I will telephone you again on the 24th of June’. This leaves the door open and gives us the unspoken right togo back to the prospect. by Insight 27
  • 28. Mistake # Twelve No sales or marketing training28 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 29. No sales or marketing trainingSales trainingResearchers have found that on average 50% of website visitors leave within 8 seconds. So no matter how muchyou have paid for your website to be designed and set up, unless there’s something ‘magnetic’ on your home pagesomething that catches the visitor’s attention and persuades him or her to stay and find out more – there’s an evenchance they will disappear.Web ‘surfers’ tend to be like butterflies, flitting from one site to the next until something grabs their attention. Imagine ifa potential customer in your town or city was looking for a firm of accountants to help them set up a limited companyand deal with all the compliance work. In the past, they would have looked in Yellow Pages. Today, they are much morelikely to go to Google and type in ‘Accountants Blackpool’ – or wherever you happen to be.Would they see your firm’s name on the first page? (If you want to make sure your website features on the first page,that’s the subject of another Insight service – please call 0800 803 0826) Let’s imagine they do find your firm’s nameand click on the link. Where does it take them? Most likely, they’ll go straight to your home page where they will befaced with a long menu of services, some nice graphics and perhaps a photo of your office.So often, what’s missing is a powerful, compelling headline which grabs their attention and draws them in to read more.Instead of glancing at “XYZ & Co is a 6-partner practice offering a full range of accountancy and tax services”, do youthink they might be a little more intrigued by a headline which reads ”Why 97 new Blackpool businesses have chosenXYZ & Co as their accountants this year” or “Free report: 25 essential business tactics to survive in a recession”.Remember, the headline must attract the reader like a magnet and pull them into the text of your website so you getyour message across in more detail.It may seem perverse, but when people come to your website, they are not interested in you at all. What they are reallyinterested in is what you can do for them. Your prime website message needs to address this with a well-structuredheadline – one that will keep their attention for more than 8 seconds. by Insight 29
  • 30. ‘How to Grow Your Firm in 2011 – and Beyond’ Win Better Quality Clients... Gain Higher Fees... and Earn More Profit! A full day workshop packed with new material and practical, proven ideas to grow your firm in a new economy Why attend? • Hear an expert panel’s view of the current Market and how the traditional ways of reaching potential clients has changed forever • Learn why traditional, stand-alone marketing for accountants has had its day • Discover 67 tried and tested techniques to boost your Practice Growth • How to out-manoeuvre your competitors with the latest digital marketing techniques • Discover how to protect your existing client base, generate referrals and benchmark your services at low or no cost • Social networking: What you ought to do - and what you must avoid • Restricted numbers and exclusive content …and introducing the ‘Insight Intelligence©’ System This workshop will show you how to develop a sales and marketing plan that will enable you to grow and build your firm with high quality clients in this new economy. It promises to be our very best event yet! It has been carefully developed to accommodate ‘new thinking’ which we call Insight Intelligence© based upon feedback from well over 1000 recent accountancy delegates and deliberately structured to provide the best value possible. It will provide you a full day of valuable and exclusive new content whilst gaining CPD points and an excellent opportunity for networking. There will be no sales pitch from us, just great content in a good venue with lunch supplied.30 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 31. Grow your firm 2011Grow Your Firm 2011 LocationsFor exact locations, venues and maps visit 10th May Basingstoke 11th May London 12th May Birmingham 17th May Bristol/Swindon 18th May Crewe 19th May Newcastle 26th May Leeds 14th June London7 things that make this new workshop exceptional value for money• Tickets are just £197 + VAT PP including lunch and refreshments• This includes a detailed workbook, one page marketing plan, templates for letters, emails and proposals• You will receive an entire day of leading edge training from 9:00am – 4:30pm• Hear from an expert panel of speakers together in one workshop for the first time, including the globally published and respected marketing expert David Oliver, the brilliantly insightful digital marketing specialist John Braithwaite, LinkedIn expert and international advisor Mark Pearl and well known offline marketing presenter Dan Richards.• The material shared and knowledge you gain will revolutionise your ability to win new clients and keep existing ones in the new economy• You gain £2400 worth of ongoing support material and advice over 6 months totally FREE OF CHARGE• All this is backed by David Oliver’s personal FULL NO QUIBBLE MONEY BACK GUARANTEETo Register call 0800 803 0826Book without concern totally risk free. All Insight workshops are backed by our 100%full money back guarantee, so there is no risk whatsoever for you. If at any timeduring the workshop, you do not feel you are getting great value from attending,simply inform our team and we will give you a full 100% refund – no problem. by Insight 31
  • 32. Testimonials “ This is to confirm that over the last four years we have used Insight and their Premier Service. This process has generated literally hundreds of appointments and has led to new business opportunities that otherwise would not have been open to us. At all times, Insight has been professional in their approach to us and listened to our ” specific needs. We are happy to recommend their services. “ Working with Insight Digital Media has future-proofed our digital marketing. We are confident because we know there is an experienced digital team on tap to develop, improve and perform for us. Their design skills are excellent, and we are very ” pleased with the quality of work. “ In our experience David Oliver and the team at Insight have always delivered great, proven sales and marketing content to help firms grow. We saw this at a national conference and again - as we use them to provide us quality appointments and a managed sales pipeline – when we asked David to present to a select audience of our associate firms. First rate, energising presenter whose firm actually walk the walk rather than just regurgitate theory. In our experience David Oliver and the team at Insight have always delivered great, proven sales and marketing content to help firms grow. We saw this at a national conference and again - as we use them to provide us quality appointments and a managed sales pipeline – when we asked David to present to a select audience of our associate firms. First rate, energising presenter whose firm ” actually walk the walk rather than just regurgitate theory. “ I have enjoyed working with Insight as a firm and their input has been appreciated over the last period and the focus that they gave me and our practice was a part of the large expansion we have achieved, in conclusion then, I have had good value from their ” services.32 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602
  • 33. Testimonials“ Insight have been honest and down to earth throughout ourrelationship. They have managed our expectations well. This has meantthat what they said would happen – has. Following our pilot campaignwe have made a good return on our investment and are now continuingto use Insight for both our high level appointment generation and ourdigital marketing. We are very happy knowing we have the experience ”of Insight on tap and look forward to another year of growth.“ Having listened to David Oliver at his public events foraccountants, and read some of his material, his 20 years ofsales and marketing experience with accountants, means thathis principles and insights are earthed in reality, they are utterlypragmatic and are easy for accountancy firms small and large to ”put into practice and make a difference to the bottom line.“ Our senior management team first heard David Oliverand the Insight team in Paris with 80 other accountants at aninternational convention. Their ability to present with passionand inspiration and their ability to combine online and offlinemarketing for proven results meant they were presenters of choice for our own MHA inauguralconference. I have no hesitation in recommending David Oliver & the Insight team for firms ”that are looking to grow.“ I have attended several of the Insight workshops andpresentations over the years and believe David Oliver and histeam provide valuable content for firms looking to grow theirclient base. We invited David and Insight to run a seminarwith us for our clients and key prospects, which was a greatsuccess. I would certainly recommend any firm serious about ”growing their client base to attend an Insight event… by Insight 33
  • 34. Our Values These are the values we aspire to. We don’t get it right all the time but it is our intention to do so as often as possible. In all areas of our business these values are known and consistently worked towards. Honesty We believe in being up front, honest and open, even if at times the truth can hurt or lose you customers. Giving Everyone within our business has a giving nature and provides assistance where possible to those less fortunate. Desire We have a genuine desire to develop win-win relationships with partners. Challenge We believe that just as “iron sharpens iron” one man can sharpen another. By positively challenging both the accepted norm and the goals, results and strategies used, we believe we can develop market-leading solutions. Inspiration We look to inspire others through the use of creative design. Dedication Appreciating that challenges will come, we are dedicated to our partners and to achieving the goals that we agree together. Fun We believe in a philosophy of ‘work hard - play hard’ and enjoy both. Share We are an open book and are willing to share our ideas, thoughts and resources freely with others who share our values. Serve Ultimately we exist to serve our customers. Excellence We want every customer to be successful and we go the extra mile to ensure that this is achieved. Environment We are accountable both ethically and commercially for the environment. Therefore we operate with a unique ‘green policy’ working towards being carbon neutral and encouraging others to do so. Learning We continually learn and improve. We accept that this may cause mistakes – sometimes major ones – that we will tackle and overcome together. Vision We work with selected partners towards developing and sustaining best-in-class digital marketing solutions, with the aim of generating a regular flow of new business at a controllable rate. UK 0800 803 0826 Europe +44 (0)1256 896239 USA 1-(800)-542-0602 by Insight34 UK: 0800 8030 826 | Europe: +44(0)1256 896 239 | America: 1-(800)-542-0602