Our “new normal” has forced individuals and companies to change how they live and work. Many companies are doing their best to manage through this time. Because of all the rapid change, many firms have struggled with how they acquire new clients. Evaluating how your business engages with clients will help you understand what adjustments need to be made to make more favorable connections.
Below you will find five actions you can take to personalize your interactions to acquire new clients.
1. Analyze Your Markets
You may be considering a variety of new business ideas and market opportunities, but not all are worth chasing. It’s essential to narrow down your options and focus on those that give you the highest potential for success to acquire new clients.
Your clients and potential clients almost certainly have different needs than they did a few short months ago. Many are dealing with cash flow issues, budget planning, and tax implications that were not a consideration at the start of the year. This means that they need help and advice more than ever. Understanding which clients have needs that you can solve, and which play to your strong suit is critical in creating your new plan.
If you analyze current sales and see one market that has been declining, you probably don’t want to invest more effort there. You’ll want to identify client segments that share common characteristics such as size, market, or current opportunity trends that are in need of your services and not focus on markets that can’t spend now or are in no position to change.
2. Realign and Adapt
After analyzing the trends, it’s time to adapt your messaging to better meet your clients’ needs. After all, your clients are facing new problems, just like you.
3. New messaging
One way to change your messaging is to address new problems your prospects are facing by looking outside of your “usual” wheelhouse. Remember, this is about THEM, not you and your capabilities. Some new issues potential clients you’re looking to acquire could be facing include PPP forgiveness, budgeting, financial planning, etc. Create messaging that focuses on these common issues.
It is important to remember that no one person’s experience is the same, so the same message that has worked well in the past may or may not resonate in today’s everchanging world. For example, you may have pitched your solution to improve efficiency at one point. That may still be important, but your customers and prospects may be more concerned about preserving cash today. Day-to-day actions have been flipped upside down, so trying something new could produce new results.
4. Unique Solutions
Sitting on the sidelines and waiting out the economic downturn won’t get you very far; however, you can reshape your solutions to meet more of your customers’ needs. Every customer out there is looking for answers to their problems. Each feels their issues are unique to them.
Now is the time to anticipate problems and proactively go to them with potential solutions. Personalization is centered around the idea of tailoring a user’s experience for them. In trying to acquire new clients, think about offering a solution specific to PPP forgiveness, or an offering to help them re-plan the second half of the year. They may need help restructuring some of their debt to free up cash for daily operations. The key is to have a sound understanding of the most common client needs and shape your solutions and messaging to those needs.
5. Execute your Actions
Right now, you need to be adaptable and make well thought out adjustments. Running the same play that you’ve always run will most likely not produce the same results. We have seen multiple firms try things like webinars and town halls to help the business community and engage new customers, but then fail to do a good job at following up with all the attendees who showed an interest.
To make sure that you execute better, here are some practical tips to consider moving forward:
- Practice it – Many CPAs have been pitching their services the same way for years or even decades. Doing it differently isn’t natural. Practice it before trying it. And if you try a new approach and it doesn’t feel right, don’t give up. Make additional adjustments and try it again.
- Listen – You have an opportunity to “listen” to your team members, since more is moving to phone and web conferencing. Use your time to see how they are adjusting and whether they are doing a good job at understanding the customer’s needs and spotting opportunities.
- Manage from data – Numbers and data are your friends right now. This involves collecting and using specific metrics to inform all decisions. Are you getting meetings from town halls and webinars that you have been conducting? Are people following up on those leads? Are they converting to meetings? Are meetings converting to business? Answers to these questions inform whether you are going down the right path or need to make adjustments.
Execution is where most people fall short. It’s often due to a lack of internal communication and direction, resistance to change, simple accountability, and coaching through that change. To help others support your new plan, you’ll want to:
- Clearly communicate the value of your process, the changes you are trying to make, and the expectations of each team member.
- Set a deadline to when specific points of the process are to be adopted and set goals for people.
- Encourage adoption by rewarding employees in ways that are most meaningful to them. This can be as simple as a “thank you” or public recognition in a staff meeting for someone who is executing well.
You’ll need to win people over to get them to support your new plan fully, but once they do, you’ll be able to grow more effectively.
Analyzing markets and trends will help you position your firm better among new audiences. Realigning and adapting your messaging and offers will help connect with ideal clients. Following through with your plan and getting others’ adoption will increase your success rate significantly. During times of change, you must listen to what your customers are saying and adapt to their needs.
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About Gary Braun
Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. In his role at Pivotal, Gary is primarily responsible for business development but, he’ll gladly take on few clients in a consulting role. Gary speaks with and partners with other firms that help drive top-line growth.
Gary, helps organizations define where growth is coming from, helps them hire and/or develop the sales team, identify ideal clients and markets, and leverage true differentiators (even in commodity markets). He also implements sales processes, targets specific KPIs, increases activity, creates and applies sales compensation plans, and develops sales leadership skills.