If I were to describe our marketing and client service approach in one word, it would be proactive. Being proactive has helped us in several ways to be successful in uncovering new client opportunities for the firm and in adding increased value once they become our clients.
The top three proactive marketing strategies or tactics we employ at HBE Becker Meyer Love, include:
Monthly pipeline meetings – We hold monthly pipeline meetings and discuss our prospects, including what the next steps are for each prospect in the next thirty days to move them closer to becoming a client of the firm. We also identify new target prospects based on our industry niches and specialty service areas that we should be pursuing that over time will become a viable sales opportunity.
Networking – Our current client referrals and networking in the community are key sources of opportunities and new clients for our firm. Because we are active in our community meeting with clients and proactively ensuring we have visibility in our target areas, we remain top of mind when people are looking for a new accounting firm. We participate in networking venues such as Chamber of Commerce events and committee memberships, industry group memberships, and board of director members for not-for-profit religious and civic organizations. We also have begun using social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, to increase our visibility in the community and to connect with key contacts to support our “traditional” networking venues.
Developing a marketing culture – We didn’t have a marketing culture five years ago and today we have a partner in charge of business development who oversees all our request for proposals (RFPs), sales proposals and prospect assignments. She assigns the opportunities and our marketing coordinator quarterbacks each from start to finish, ensuring that we respond timely and those that need to be involved in the sales process do their part. Everyone participates and is thinking and talking about how they can promote the firm and identify new client opportunities.
One of the best marketing activities we do is a marketing blitz every summer that includes the entire firm. From June through August, we hold a competition and form teams with a mix of partners, managers, staff and admin. Teams can earn points during the competition period for various marketing activities we define, such as networking, client meetings, referral source meetings, etc. With the team approach, our partners become not only responsible for themselves and their marketing efforts, but also for the success of their team - so they are very motivated! Each year’s competition is different. One year we divided the city into areas and each team went on a field trip. Each team drove around their assigned area and identified target accounts/potential clients for the firm, some of whom we discovered we already had relationships with. While on the field trip, we dropped off cookies at clients in the assigned areas, too, which was an opportunity to see our clients and allowed clients to meet some of our team members.
We are committed to being as proactive with clients as much as possible, outside of an engagement. We conduct a few other successful client initiatives that have resulted in new opportunities to serve our clients and increase our value to them, including:
- Quarterly CFO Roundtables – We hold separate, free, not-for-profit roundtables and for-profit roundtables for our clients that feature educational sessions on topics like the new AICPA financial reporting framework for small and medium sized entities, healthcare considerations presented by Blue Cross/Blue Shield and other topics relevant to CFOs at the time. We also invite our prospects and referral sources to these events-, giving them the opportunity to network and often our clients then act as the best salespeople for our firm!
- Client Service Plans - We have been doing client service plans for approximately 10 of our existing “A” clients and new clients that have completed their first engagement with us. Based on our knowledge of the client from our engagement and various meetings with the client, the client service team (a partner in-charge and staff person) develops a list of possible areas that the client could address or that we could help them with over the next year that might be of value to them. We then schedule a time to meet with the client outside of an engagement to review it with them and discuss how it can help them improve.
These proactive client initiatives are a result of our commitment to quality and integrity and making decisions that are in our clients’ best interest. We look out for our clients first. This focus resulted in HBE Becker Meyer Love receiving a Better Business Bureau integrity award, of which we are very proud.
To build this type of marketing culture and proactive client-centered approach requires that you involve all partners and instill your client values in all generations of your firm. Find ways to get your entire team involved and then get active networking in your community, meeting with your clients and discussing ways you can make your clients better. When you do, you’ll not only secure and retain clients but you’ll strengthen and engage your team members, too.
Scott Becker, CPA, CFP, CVA, CGMA is the Managing Partner of HBE Becker Meyer Love, LLP, a mid-sized, six-partner firm in Lincoln, NE. For more information about HBE, visit www.hbecpa.com.