CPA Partner Sara: "Hey there, Jerry. How goes business development today?"
CPA Partner Jerry: "Great, Sara. Today I had two initial conversations with potential marketing partners, made fantastic progress on our website, and got good news that one of our proposals is a finalist in a competitive situation. How was your day?"
CPA Partner Sara: "I didn't sell anything either."
Like Jerry, many professionals become thoroughly engaged in the steps of selling professional services. However, we should all be so fortunate to have a Sara in our office to remind us every day:
Though painful to watch, even the best intentioned consultants and professionals vigorously engage so-called business development activities that get them nowhere. But they continue to work on them as ‘top priorities' because of nothing more than inertia.
For some reason many ongoing business development activities and services marketing projects are indispensable until someone asks, “Will continuing this tactic help us build our revenue base?” Eerie silence follows until someone says, “Not really. Why are we doing it then?”
When it comes to business development, an activity is dispensable if it doesn't help you get new clients. Whether you're just about to commit to an activity, or if you've been doing one forever, ask yourself:
Will this activity contribute to producing revenue? Given our limited resources, should we do something else that will generate more revenue?
Sometimes simply asking the question is enough for you to realize that your time and money are best spent elsewhere. Another technique that helps to uncover whether an activity is worthwhile is to ask:
If we don't continue implementing this particular tactic or activity, what won't happen?
For example, let's say you are about to redesign all of your marketing collateral pieces for your CPA firm. Someone in management or on the sales team started you down the path of believing you needed to update all of your color glossy brochures.
You then ask yourself, just before you plunk down a month's worth of cash flow on design and printing, “If I don't go ahead with this redesign and reprint, what won't happen?”
Probably not, the collateral pieces are nice to bring to the first meeting, but we don't absolutely need them and often don't use them when developing accounting clients.
Probably not, we don't direct mail these brochures so they don't contribute to generating new business leads for our CPA firm.
Probably not, they already know us and our quality.
Yes, once the money is spent, it's gone, and we can't reclaim the staff time either.
If these are your answers, you should stop the implementation before committing the resources and cash as both are probably best spent elsewhere.
About the Authors:
Mike Schultz is Co-President of Wellesley Hills Group, a management consulting, marketing, and lead generation firm focused on helping professional services firms grow. He is also author of Professional Services Marketing (Wiley, 2009) and Publisher of RainToday.com, the premier online source for insight, advice, and tools for service business rainmakers, marketers, and leaders.
John Doerr is Co-President of Wellesley Hills Group. He is also the Founder of RainToday.com and co-author of the book Professional Services Marketing (Wiley, 2009).