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How to Grow Your Accounting Firm: 5 First-Hand Tips, Tactics, & Tricks

Accounting Firm Business Development Team TalkingThere are over 42,000 accounting firms in the U.S. alone representing an industry that generates $156 billion annually. And among those 42,000 firms are “The Big Four” firms that produce roughly 85% of the industry’s revenue.

Competition in the industry is fierce and 72% of professional services firms report they struggle to attract and develop new business.

If you’re going through a similar challenge at your own firm, you’re not alone, and there is a solution.

During my time at Kaufman Rossin, a leading accounting firm headquartered in Florida, I’ve seen first-hand how innovative accounting firms can gain a competitive edge and boost their revenue growth. Find out how you can grow your accounting firm with my top five tactics below.

  1. Foster Loyalty With Existing Clients
  2. Invest in Data Enrichment Tools
  3. Create a Culture of Collaboration
  4. Attend Strategic Events
  5. Understand Your Own Personal Relationship Capital

1. Foster Loyalty With Existing Clients

New revenue doesn’t just come from new clients. In fact, between 25-40% of new business generated by top accounting firms comes strictly from cross-selling to existing clients.

It’s for that reason that your firm needs to focus on strengthening your client relationships and promoting loyalty to the firm.

“Professional service firms need to have a deeper and broader relationship with their clients to take advantage of cross-sell and upsell opportunities. That is where the magic happens—when they are engaged beyond finance and truly understanding the client’s business,” Lauren Clemmer, Executive Director of the Association for Accounting Marketing, says.

Our own professional services business development expert, Alan Mercer, offers some suggestions on how to reach that level of engagement and understanding that in our Professional Services Playbook:

“Schedule a regular non-matter related conversation with the agenda of finding out more about your clients’ business, current challenges, and industry trends. Make this more formal than a coffee catch up. Carry out research before-hand and create a list of areas you’d like to discuss. Share this agenda with the client prior to meeting to give them time to think over their answers.

Only by truly understanding your clients’ goals, objectives, challenges, opportunities, and fears will you be able to effectively suggest ways in which you can help.”

Technology, however, can also help you build stronger relationships with your clients. For example, relationship intelligence automation (RIA) automatically discovers the latest company news, contact changes, and account activity and delivers this intelligence directly to your business development team’s inbox before key client meetings. This allows your business development team to access important relationship insights — at the right time — that they can leverage to develop stronger, more loyal relationships and anticipate client needs.

business development playbook for professional services

2. Invest in Data Enrichment Tools

“Business is all about relationships… how well you build them determines how well they build your business.”

– Brad Sugars, Founder & Chairman, ActionCOACH Business Coaching

Your accounting firm’s relationships are likely the most valuable asset that you have at your disposal — as Brad Sugar’s famous quote suggests. And because of that, you’ve likely invested heavily in your firm’s customer relationship management (CRM) system. But considering that less than half of sales teams use CRM, that investment becomes wasted if your team isn’t using it.

To ensure that your firm’s CRM helps your business development team build strong relationships, accelerate sales, and win more opportunities, it’s imperative to have up-to-date, accurate data in your firm’s database. Tools like data enrichment services or CRM data automation improve CRM data quality as they passively collect contact data in the background to automatically update your database with fresh information. This also helps reduce the time needed for manual data entry, which can help increase CRM adoption. In creating a CRM that your team will actually use and appreciate, your CRM investment will see a greater return as your business development and sales teams discover insights that move deals forward.

3. Create a Culture of Collaboration

Relationships are key to business growth. So, encourage your sales and business development teams to collaborate with each other and share their relationship knowledge. They just might find a mutual connection that can help get a foot in the door at a prospective company.

“Building an environment of collaboration and enablement will go a long way in helping firms break down relationship barriers that live across departments, regions, and organizational hierarchies,” Adam Draper, VP of Sales – North America at Introhive, suggests.

How can you help make this cultural shift?

Adam believes technology is the answer, stating, “Technology can enable the automatic discovery of relationships with cross-selling potential so that sales and marketing can drive greater impact. By using technology that allows you to centralize your contact management and put less onus the relationship owner, you can increase your visibility into client data and inform relationship owners of potential collaboration opportunities.”

Read: How to Create an Open and Collaborative Workplace

4. Attend Strategic Events

Nothing is better for business development than face-to-face communication, making industry events a hotbed for meeting new prospects, gaining referrals, and developing relationships.

Before you choose the conferences and events you want to attend, make sure to review the list of speakers, sponsors, and attendees and see if any of them could be a potential prospect. Based on your findings, attend the events that hold the most potential for your accounting firm and bring relevant members of your business development team so they can engage with their target prospects and clients as well. A single event could turn into a dozen or more net new leads for the firm.

5. Understand Your Own Personal Relationship Capital

With multiple years, if not decades of experience building rich relationships, your network is vast and deep. And as such, it holds plenty of untapped potential for your accounting firm.

Look at your own network with a keen eye to see if you have connections in a target industry or at prospective companies. If you have a strong relationship with that connection, you can ask for a warm introduction to the individuals you need to speak with and get the ball rolling.

To find those common connections within your own network, relationship analytics software can quickly surface those opportunities and how to leverage them. For example, Introhive’s relationship analytics shows all of the contacts within the firm’s network (both within and outside of CRM) in order to identify mutual contacts. Introhive will also score those relationships, making it easy for you to determine “who knows who best” so you can open more doors, faster for your firm.

Take Your Accounting Firm to the Top

The above tips will help your firm overcome disruption, beat the competition, and grow revenue at the same time. Through fresh tactics like implementing data enrichment technology to the tried and true methods like adopting a client-centric approach to business, your accounting firm will lead the industry.

What else can you do to grow your accounting firm? Check out our latest Professional Services Playbook for tips and best practices from nine industry experts, including Lauren Clemmer, Eric Fletcher, Danny Estrada, and more.

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