Not only are we getting ready to enter one of the busiest seasons of the business year, we are quickly approaching one of the best times to add new business. Unfortunately, new business doesn’t happen by chance. If you want to take advantage of the opportunities that exist, you must act now. It requires some advance preparation. As you complete your year-end tax planning, start making preparations to build your practice.
Here are five strategies and tactics to consider:
- Embrace a New Spirit — Make this “busy season” come to life with a positive new spin. Trash the dreaded talk that comes with tax time. Create a new, infectious spirit in your firm. Start with a positive message from your firm’s managing partner to set the tone. Help employees understand that this is the time when your firm has the greatest potential to attract new business, so business-development initiatives will be even more important than ever. Keep employees’ spirits alive throughout the season by communicating positive messages. Support those messages by:
Host a Welcome to Tax Season Kickoff Celebration — Share your firm’s new spirit by hosting a Welcome to Tax Season party. Invite your clients, referral sources, the media and other friends of the firm to celebrate this special time with you. What a better way to get people thinking about you. Not only can you thank people for their business, but you can let them know you are looking forward to working with them. Remind them that you are also looking for new business and would appreciate new client referrals.
Train Your Staff to Uncover Cross-Selling Opportunities — As you issue challenges to your employees to cross-sell additional services to existing clients this busy season, understand that many do not know how to go about it. If you want to increase the amount of new business your firm provides, you have to show them the way. Provide training and coaching sessions in December and early January to help your employees understand how to identify new business opportunities from current clients. Teach them how to discuss opportunities with clients and how to negotiate the project. Take up-and-coming professionals along on client meetings to understand how to bring this training and coaching to life. Provide additional training throughout the year to instill this core competency in your staff.
Review Your Marketing-to-Sales Handoffs — Firms can engage in many effective initiatives to market their services from seminars and webinars, to building effective Web sites and blogs, participating in industry trade groups and distributing e-newsletters. Unfortunately, there is often a void between all the great marketing that is done to generate leads and the handoff to turn those leads into sales. This void often worsens during peak times. If you do not effectively follow up on these leads, you have wasted your marketing dollars. To win new business during busy season (and throughout the year) it is important to make sure you have defined processes in place to help your employees move leads generated in the marketing phase into the sales phase. Document the steps that should take place and then provide training to your staff on how to put these processes in place.
Hold a Welcome to Tax Season Press Conference — Help the media get a jump-start on their tax season coverage by hosting a Welcome to Tax Season press-conference. This could be held just prior to your Welcome to Tax Season event or at a separate time. Highlight key areas and new tax developments that may be of interest to the press. Help them understand what your firm is doing to address each topic covered. Allow a question-and-answer period. Learn what issues they are interested in and the specific ways you can be of service to them during busy season. Provide them with a roster of contacts in your firm and include areas of expertise, e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Have a “dry run” prior to the event to review your presentation and anticipate questions. Bring in a media coach to work with you prior to the event if you are not experienced in dealing with the press in this type of setting.
- Saying “thank you” regularly to all the team working extra hours to make it successful
- Rewarding and celebrating new business success with a “business-building” campaign
- Providing fun gifts at unexpected times such as firm logo items
- Offering special stress-busting breaks with fresh-baked cookies or fresh fruit smoothies
- Creating a relaxation lounge with soft music, comfortable seating and mini-massages
- Establishing a game room with a Wii or X-box, pool table, foosball and TV
If you want to win more new business this busy season, start now. Remember, new business doesn’t happen by chance. Good planning is the key to success. Your efforts can yield enough work to keep your firm profitable for the remainder of 2010. It’s up to you.
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Tracy Crevar Warren is founder of The Crevar Group. She is a sought-after consultant, facilitator, author and speaker. Her practical, results-oriented approach helps professional services firms build more profitable practices. She advises clients on practice growth, culture development, sales and marketing. She inspires and empowers local, regional, national and international audiences to grow their practices by doing more of the work they love. Warren can be reached at 336-889-GROW (4769).