Get more clients by mastering your sales qualification process

Grow your practice, Practice Management Old way versus the new way

To grow your tax and accounting firm, you need new clients. This is an ongoing challenge for even the most successful firms.

Many firms struggle with this because they approach it simply by trying to sign as many new clients as possible. Not much more thought than that is put into it – but it’s not that straightforward.

It’s about attracting and identifying the right clients, providing a world-class experience from the very first interaction, and doing it efficiently. To achieve this, you must spend time perfecting your sales qualification process.

In this article, you’ll learn how to achieve this. You’ll discover how you can generate new leads, qualify them to determine which ones are worth spending time on, and how you can automate this process.

Know and communicate to your ideal clients

Think about your existing clients. They’re not all created equal. It’s likely that some are much more profitable, while others consume staff time and are painful to deal with. It’s probably obvious which ones you want more of.

You might also target a niche. If your marketing speaks to restaurant owners, but your services are designed for retail businesses, there is a misalignment between your marketing messaging and your delivery of service.

To get a better understanding of who your best clients, are and how you can speak to them more directly, consider the following:

  • Identify who your current and best clients are.
  • Determine what attributes they have in common. For example, are they all in the same industry? Is the industry niche?
  • Think about other professional information: how big the companies are, what points of contact you work best with, and other details.
  • Learn what pain points your firm solves for your clients
  • Collect information from your sales team. What are clients saying about your service?

Write all of this information down in a persona doc so that you can create a semi-fictional representation of who your prospects are.

This exercise makes it easier to create all marketing communication, including website narratives, blogs, and emails, with a particular persona in mind. Then, you’ll have a better idea of what messaging you can create that will have a positive impact on them.

And, just as importantly, you can make it clear who your services are not appropriate for, reducing the likelihood of wasting time in the long run.

Know what you want a lead to do, and make it easy for them

Once you have convinced a potential client that you are the best firm to solve their specific challenges, you have one objective for the first interaction they have with your accounting firm: Convince them to take the appropriate next step.

The vast majority of the time, this first interaction will be your firm’s website. If a great potential client visits your website today, how easy do you make this step for them?

Think about what you want to happen here. It might be a form completion, a phone call, or something else.

What is easiest for your firm to handle today? What will enable you to scale in the future? What will enable you to provide the best experience? And, what will allow you to quickly qualify the prospect to ensure you are a good fit for one another?

Know what information to collect to qualify a prospect

It’s important early in the process to collect the information needed to determine how likely a lead will turn into a customer, but don’t go overboard; the more information you require, the more time you are requiring from your prospect. Make it easy for them.

The advantage of using a form on your website is that you can ask qualifying questions early on – and keep it all automated.

For example, you can also ask them qualifying questions such as:

  • Job title
  • Company budget
  • When they need the service
  • Location
  • Number of employees
  • Annual revenue

By asking these questions, you can start to see which leads match your ideal candidate, and filter out clients who may not be the best fit for your firm.

Score your leads to qualify them

Once you know what the right candidate looks like and started collecting data from your incoming leads, you can better understand which ones look like a good fit and are worth the time to pursue.

Lead scoring is the process of assigning values (usually numbers) to each lead you generate for the business. The values are based on the attributes you collected in the list above. You can also add extra points to those who have engaged with your brand a number of times.

So, if you’re targeting companies with more than 50 employees, leads that come in with less than 50 employees will be ranked lower than those having 50 or more employees.

Similarly, if an entry-level sales rep enters their information, they aren’t as likely to be a key decision maker as a chief marketing officer. In this case, the CMO’s lead would earn a higher score than the sales rep.

If you’re only just setting up a sales qualification process for the first time, you don’t need to be as sophisticated as assigning a numerical score to every attribute. It could be as simple as identifying one or two critical attributes, such as industry and revenue, and using that to grade inbound prospects as A, B, or C.

Automate your sales qualification process

Your inbound sales process is easy to automate, right from the initial website inquiry.

The chart below identifies a simple automation flow where you can:

  1. Collect website inquiries using Typeform.
  2. Create a new prospect contact in Intuit® Practice Management, powered by Karbon (via Zapier).
  3. Send an automatic email to your prospect from Mailchimp that includes a link to book a Discovery Call. Use Calendly to automatically create a calendar invite on your calendar, or the appropriate sales teammate.
  4. Connect with Zoom to automatically create a meeting link and add to your Calendly invite

From there, your new lead’s information and meeting details will be automatically imported into Intuit Practice Management, so you know the background of your client before hopping on the welcome call.

Automating Sales Process

The perfect sales discovery meeting

Before forming the exact process, design what an ideal sales discovery meeting should look like. This requires you to have a plan for specific questions, in which you’ll document the answers.

You’ll likely want to know things such as the following:

  • How many bank and credit card accounts they have.
  • Software tools they will need to connect with their accounting.
  • Future goals.
  • Details about their historical data.

Your firm should create a template for each sales discovery meeting, so you can have a repeatable process and always collect the necessary information. Then, you’ll need to document everything so that you don’t have to ask the same things twice and ensure a smooth handover to service delivery.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published by Karbon.

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