As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, business development for accounting firms has been turned upside down.
A process that once relied heavily on in-person conferences, networking groups and lunches is all but obsolete for the time being — and firms are scrambling for new ways to connect with prospects.
One thing is certain: Professionals can expect to come out of 2020 with a whole new perspective on business development.
Adjusting to Covid: Business Development Changes for Accounting Firms
“The sales cycle has always been a lengthy process,” said Deborah Long, business development manager of Clark Schaefer Hackett, an Ohio-based Top 100 CPA Firm. “Building relationships with prospective clients and networking partners just takes time, and now it’s taking even longer because the personal element has been taken out of the equation.”
It’s difficult to establish rapport and develop a level of trust with networking partners on a Zoom call. There’s also no opportunity for sidebar conversations that can lead to the sharing of market intelligence, from who’s not happy with their current CPA to who’s left a particular company.
To adapt, Long has been making more outbound calls to connect with targets and she’s also leveraging the firm’s thought leadership to start conversations with prospective clients and stay connected with networking partners.
Most importantly, she’s not letting the digital environment hold her back. She’s scheduled happy hours, created Zoom networking events with industry peers and established a regular cadence of connecting with her centers of influence. The goal, she said, is “to stay top of mind and be there as a resource.”
Click here to read the full story in the Fall 2020 issue of Growth Strategies.
About Stacy Dreher
Stacy Dreher is the Marketing Director at James Moore & Co.