The component of new client acquisition that stresses out most tax practitioners more than anything else is the sales component. I believe that the sales component is actually the easiest part.
Even though a consultative nature tends to be well ingrained in most tax and accounting professionals because of our academic training, putting on a “salesperson” hat makes most professionals cringe.
I’d like to share two realities of sales as a tax professional, however. Both of these realities completely take away the two biggest stressors of the sales component.
Unlike many other sales professions (yes, we’re in a sales profession — this is a fact that every practitioner simply has to accept), there really isn’t a whole lot of sales resistance once we’re actually face to face with a prospect. In fact, most other sales professionals would be envious of the position we’re in.
By the very nature of what we do, our closing ratio is unusually high. While many sales professionals in numerous industries (such as advertising media, household goods, industrial equipment, etc.) are excited to close 1 in 20 prospects, such a closing rate would be abysmal for us. While 100% isn’t to be expected, high double digit percentage is.
Basically, here’s how I sum up the “sales” side of being a tax professional: If they’ll meet with you, they’ll hire you.
With out marketing, we establish ourselves as an expert in our field, and position ourselves on the “right side of the desk” in the eyes of our prospects. By the time they actually come in for a consultation, they’re essentially already sold, otherwise they wouldn’t have met with us.
Again, not every person that meets with us is actually going to hire us on the spot. But, with proper long-term followup via a regular “touch” program, it’s possible to get pretty close to 100%. A 20% to 50% closing rate on the first appointment is not only achievable, but quite common.
I have had clients that hire me on the first meeting. For example, I did a first time consultation with a new prospect over the telephone this morning, and a few hours later I have a signed 2848 in hand and a check is in the mail. However, I have had other clients that I had to keep in touch with for more than a year before they ever hired me.
Most of the job of selling ourselves is done via our educational marketing, both before and after a consultation. The consultation isn’t really a sales interaction for us, so much as it is a closing interaction.
Coincidentally, “closing” is the second biggest stressor for most tax practitioners when it comes to sales, and we’ll address that tomorrow.