Episode 45: Your practice sales playbook - the best way to convert new clients every time
"It’s 20 times harder to find a new client than to keep existing ones.”- Jamie Johns
In this episode of The Wize Guys Podcast, Ed Chan, and Jamie Johns, with Wize Mentor, Kristy Fairbairn discussed that leads take a long time to convert, and once they do make sure you have a good policy in place. They also talked about how important it is that you are at the “top of your client's mind” and the speed at which you get back to the client.
#wizementoring #leadgeneration #salesprocess
0:00 – Intro
0:35 – Reasons why its 20 times harder to find a new client than to keep existing ones
1:48 – Understanding the concept of LAPS steps
2:43 – The importance of documenting the sales process
3:05 – The impact of Wize’s philosophy in running an accounting or bookkeeping firm
4:12 – Ed Chan on “You cannot make a client change Accountant, but you can be top of mind when they eventually decide to change.” -- How important is being at the “top of their minds” and the speed at which you get back to the client?
5:03 – Marketing VS Sales
7:53 – How to build a prospect/lead database
9:16 – Best practices for lead conversion
10:17 – How to utilize technology in sending business proposals
10:57 – TIP: Do your presentation face-to-face with you clients
11:38 – The NEW trend of having face-to-face meetings with clients
13:07 – How to identify your firm’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
14:31 – How to take action
18:10 – CRM suggestions to start implementing in your firm
“If you follow the process, you'll get the best results. ” - Jamie Johns
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Kristy Fairbairn: As Jamie says, “it's 20 times harder to find a new client than to keep existing clients.” That is definitely true.
Jamie, with your quote there, can you take us through a little bit of what that means to you and also your LAPS steps?
Jamie Johns: Well, going back to your quote Kristy, it's much easier to keep a client because you've already got the rapport and the trust built. So, as bookkeeping and accounting firm owners, it's all about relationships. That's really number one.
Ed, you always talk about the emotional bank account, and Dr. Steven Covey talks a lot about it in this book as well. If you always deposit into the emotional bank account, often when you do make a mistake, you'll be able to keep the client. So the emotional bank account concept is very important. And actually, there's a good video on that, Kristy on the WizeVault.
Rachel Robinson talks about that as well at XeroCon last year. It's always the contact point with the client. Every time you think about the power of now, every time you contact a client, are you contributing to the client bookkeeper/ account relationship? So in that sense, it really is part and easier to keep an existing client than to find a new one. ‘Cause, when you find a new one, they don't know you, they don't trust you. And that's really where that quote comes from. It's 20 times harder to find a new client than to keep an existing one. So that's what that quote there's all about. And it definitely relates to sales around how hard it is to find a new client. Again, there's a video on the WizeVault that shows you the acquisition cost of new clients.
Referrals are great but when you are spending money on marketing and then the number of times you're in the sales process, it can be quite difficult, quite costly, and time-consuming to find a new client.
I always think of the sales process, I think someone said to me once, or I must have read it, LAPS. It's just going over and over and over. I've seen some people have their CRM set up like this. So you've got a lead and so you go from a new lead to an appointment, so you should book an appointment with a lead. Once you've booked the appointment, you can do your presentation around your services. Then from your presentation, you then send them a proposal. And so from the presentation, it goes to the proposal to the sale. So that's why I like the concept of LAPS and doing it over and over and over.
Years ago I remember Ed saying to me, ‘Jamie, can you document your sales process?’ I think I sort of tracked it for two or three years there and I probably converted about 80% of the new leads and prospects and referrals that I got. And Ed said to me, ‘Can you document what you do from the first point of contact when you take a lead or a referral, what do you actually do?’ So I documented all that.
Kristy Fairbairn: That's awesome. Thank you!
Are there any particular points in there that stand out for you, on focus or systemization or when you get your playbook in place? Does it start to flow into each other?
Jamie Johns: I think it's like everything else in business Kristy, you must follow a process every time, whatever it's been in running my firm every time that I moved away from a process that worked, the less successful I was. So that's what I love about Wize, it's really a blueprint. if you follow the process, you'll get the best results. Then every time I didn't follow the process or every time I missed a step, it always reduced my ability to get the outcome I wanted. So I think the whole Wize philosophy, whether it's marketing or whether it's sales or whether it's building your ideal team is just following the process because the process works.
Kristy Fairbairn: Yeah. That's awesome. Thanks, Jamie!
Jamie Johns: And when you're scaling it too, Kristy, you've gotta have others to follow a process. You've got to navigate the process.
Kristy Fairbairn: Yes. I did love sharing a lead with you the other day, Jamie for Sky Accountants, and you straight onto your client manager to get it sorted like, ‘Oh, I can't wait to be able to have a system in place that a lead will come in and it's not me that needs to handle it.’ So yeah, I look forward to learning a bit more on that one soon.
Ed, I'd love to hear from you on this quote that you say, “You cannot make a client change accountant, but you can be top of mind when they eventually decide to change.” How important is being at the top of their mind and the speed at which they get back to those clients?
Ed Chan: Yeah. Thanks, Kristy.
It's so important that you're at top of their mind when they do decide to change. Because it's not when you are ready to do business with them, but it's when they're ready to do business with you that you've gotta be at the top of their mind. And how do you get to be top of mind when they do decide to change? Well, to understand that I'll just take a couple of steps back, just to get to the understanding. There's a different difference between sales and marketing. Sales are what Jamie just talked about, selling to an existing market. So you've got a demand for something, a demand for bikes and you just sell a bike to someone who wants to buy a bike, right? So that's sales. And then you go through the process, the LAPS as Jamie pointed out to get that person over the line. Marketing is a little bit different. Marketing is either creating a demand that's not there or doing things that get a lead a prospect in front of you. Then you've still gotta convert that through a sales process, which is the LAPS process. But still, marketing is more about getting the lead in front of you so that you can get the opportunity of converting that, that lead or that prospect into a client.
Now the saying is, ‘The more marketing you do, the less quality salesperson that you need. And the less marketing you do, the more quality salesperson you need to get in front of the prospect to convert them.’ So if you do know marketing, when that prospect gets in front of you, you gotta put your best salesman in front of that person because that person doesn't know anything about your firm. So you're starting from scratch. Obviously, the most impressive person you can put in front of that person, the higher the chance of converting it. But if you've done enough marketing right so that the prospects finally come to see you. Then you don't need an as high salesperson to do the conversion. The reason for that is that there is a process that you go through when it comes to sales and marketing.
The first thing is you've gotta build familiarity. What I mean by that is if you are looking for a telephone company and Telstra presented itself to you. To Telstra for that, those who are not in Australia, Telstra is another telephone company that we have here that's been around a long, long time. So they're very familiar with Australians or a new person, I'll just call him a new telephone company. They try to sell you something. Well, you are a lot more familiar with Telstra than you are with this new telephone company. So the old person that you're very familiar with will have a bigger chance of winning you over because there's a lot more credibility there. So the first thing is to build familiarity.
Then the second thing is to build credibility because where you're trying to get to is through is to trust. A person won't come across your organization unless they trust you. In order to build trust, it's a long runway. So you build familiarity with your brand or with yourself, and then you build credibility. Credibility is either what we do is do these kinds of sessions, writing newsletters, writing pieces in the newspaper, or holding seminars. That builds credibility. Then from there, then you arrive at the trust. And then when they're ready to change accountants, then you'll be at top of their minds. It is a long runway. So it requires investment. Most small firms, don't see the investment. They see it as a cost, as an expense, and not as an investment. So a lot of firms don't do it.
If you've been coming to these sessions, I talk about building a garden that attracts butterflies and not being a butterfly catcher building a garden that attracts butterflies is this process, this marketing sales process in which you've gotta invest up to 5% of your turnover into to create a database of prospects. Often, the other mistakes accountants make or businesses make is that when they see a prospect and they don't buy from you straight away, they then get rid of that name and it's gone. Instead of realizing then that when they're ready to buy, you need to be at top of their minds. So you need to keep them in a database and continue to engage with them either through a newsletter or through some value that you can give them to keep them warm so that when they're ready to buy from you or when they're ready to change accountants, that you're at top of mind. This is what I call balance sheet stuff, P&L stuff. It's investing in the balance sheet. As I said, the more marketing you do, the more you don't need the partner to go and see a prospect to convert them. But if you don't do any marketing, you need to get the partner in front of the best person in front of the prospect to convert them. And it is a long runway in that you need to invest. If you're thinking of it as an expense and not an investment, then you won't do it.
Kristy Fairbairn: Yeah. I think too in our industry, we're really lucky that the lifetime value of a client is more than just a one-off service generally. So, in knowing that it's a balance sheet play, it's a long runway. It's worth that investment in time because for some of us, we could have these clients for 15-20 years at least. It's really worth betting down the systems now.
Ed Chan: Yeah, so well said.
Also, there's a goodwill factor attached to it. So not only do you get the lifetime value of that client, which is a minimum of five years if you look after the client. If you add up the fee you get from that client for five years gives you context as to how much that client's worth. But then on top of that, there's goodwill. Currently, it's a dollar per dollar or your turnover is a goodwill factor. You've gotta approach it from that perspective to help you decide whether to invest in the marketing or not.
Kristy Fairbairn: Yeah. Thanks, Ed.
Jamie, let's learn a little bit more about Sky Accountants. So in talking about marketing a little bit further, in conjunction with your sales process, what are some best practices from Sky Accountants that you would like to share with us on lead conversion, and how have you gone about implementing them?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, first of all, Kristy we wrote a sales playbook. So I think there's a link to that in the WizeVault and any firm can grab that and really customize that to suit themselves in the sales playbook.
One of the most critical things is to realize that the best way to get to communicate with leads and prospects is face-to-face. So if you can't do face-to-face, make sure that you use a phone or you use Zoom. For example, particularly when you're doing that initial contact piece in that process is trying to book the appointment. But then if you can do your presentation face-to-face, and I say that because over the years of speaking to hundreds of accountants, we're all pushed with technology all the time and apps. For example, Sky Accountant uses PracticeIgnition, or I think it's just called Ignition these days to do a lot of their proposals. So there are other ones like GoProposal and there's a whole heap of different apps that you can use to send off your proposals. But what we try and do is obviously use the technology but when you're actually presenting a proposal, try and do it face to face. The reason is that you're communicating that rapport and that trust and giving the lead or prospect a really good picture of what your firm's about and who you are and how you deliver your services. ‘Cause at the end of the day, they're not necessarily buying a product, they're buying you. We've got managers, we've all got client managers or ourselves dealing with the client. So we are dealing with really a very important aspect of their lives and that's their wealth and their financial matters and their tax.
So I think really, the biggest tip I would give to people is to make sure that you can do your presentations of what your service offering is face-to-face. I've tested this. I've looked at the number of leads that we've converted and why we haven't converted over a number of years now, and even in mentoring people, I've seen other people where I've said, ‘Look, don't just click the button and send it on email. Have you had the presentation first?’
Kristy Fairbairn: Yeah. So important.
Jamie Johns: Many times they'll come back not accepting it or delayed. So that would be my biggest tip here is to do your presentations face-to-face and not just totally rely on email when someone rings the office, ‘Oh, have you got a price for this?’ So the more expensive the product or service, the more involved you want to get at a face-to-face level.
Kristy Fairbairn: Just on that, Jamie, where you talk about face-to-face in this post-CoVid world that we're living in face-to-face doesn't have to be sitting opposite each other in the same room anymore, does it? We can present remotely as well using Zoom. Microsoft Teams, and all sorts of opportunities. So that doesn't need to be a barrier.
Jamie Johns: That's right. Like Ed would be the same. But I know it's Sky Accountants, probably at least 40% of our income would be outside Victoria. So some of our largest clients are in Cairns. We're in Ballarat.
Kristy Fairbairn: Different climates.
Jamie Johns: Yeah. They're in Sydney. So the technology, face-to-face doesn't mean like physically, but you've got the technology with Zoom and it's quite interesting on the demographics with that. It's just the demographics of say a population group. The younger people as I might say, are in their twenties, they're born with the iPhone and they're very used to it.
Kristy Fairbairn: Yeah.
Jamie Johns: So people are used to technology and then as you get different generations coming through businesses as well. Technology's just the way to go. So utilize that technology, but particularly Zoom, there's a Google conference tool, and there are all sorts of conference tools it can use. I think I would just come back to follow that sales process. Like I said earlier if you are just sending an email and saying, ‘Oh, this is the cost, and away you go without doing a proper presentation, you'll minimize your chance to convert that person over.’
Kristy Fairbairn: Yeah. I think there are plenty of ways around that issue now. Even if it's a matter of getting on the phone and then sending the email while you're on the phone, don't allow technology to be a barrier. I'm sure the client or prospective client can use their email and phone. Find a way around it and not be paralyzed by it.
Jamie Johns: The other thing I'll probably touch on really quickly is just using a unique selling proposition. Kristy. So, if someone rings me and says, ‘Well, I've got 10 bookkeepers to choose from, or I've got 10 accounts to choose from.’ What makes you different? Another name for it is your guarantee. I use them interchangeably, Unique Selling Proposition or USP. If someone says to me, ‘Well, why should I come to Sky Accountants?’
You really should know if you are the client manager exactly what that is and, and be able to articulate that really quickly. So our first one is like any client, we wanna move to the cloud. So you're educating the leader prospect from day one. So the lead prospect thinks, ‘Wow! Geez, these guys, they're different. They're all over it. They're organized.’ Move them to the cloud, collect information up front, give you a quote or estimate of what it costs, and tell them what the timeframe is, and how long will it take to get the job done.
So I almost know mine automatically. But I just encourage everyone watching to have your unique selling proposition documented. We have it up on the wall and particularly with your client managers. Train your client managers in that process. And after they do it so many times they'll just have it. Kristy.
Kristy Fairbairn: Yeah. I think that too. In all of those opportunities for conversation, it's building trust and rapport, isn't it? Where Ed talks about deposits in the love bank that you're making them as soon as you take that first inquiry. So it's your opportunity to create a really great relationship with a future client from the very start.
Jamie Johns: Ed’s uses it as selling the sizzle and not the sausage.
Kristy Fairbairn: Ed, we'd love to hear from you again. What's one action point you'd suggest taking the next step to act on? Where do we begin?
Ed Chan: I've done this so many times, you'd think I know what to do, wouldn't you? But yeah, so the easy bit is to make sure you retain your existing clients. Because often firms get so busy getting the work done, and meeting the lodgement dates that they forget about their existing clients who they may not be in contact with right now. Some clients come to you once a year. Some come to you once a quarter. Some come to you every month.
Research shows that if you are not in contact with your client more than once a month, a minimum of once a month, then your clients are getting spoken to by your competitors in one way or another. Whether they subscribed to their newsletters and they're getting newsletters from your competitors, or whether they've attended someone's seminar or a webinar such as this. They're getting attacked if you like, inverted commerce by your competitors constantly. If you are not touching base with them at least once a month, then what happens, the research shows that when they're ready to change accountants then they'll go talk to a person who's currently talking to them. It might be just a timing issue. So the first point is to make sure you are at least touching base with the clients once a month.
Now if you are dealing with them doing their best once a month, that's fine, right? But if you are not dealing them dealing with them monthly, whether quarterly or once a year, you need to get a newsletter going so that they're receiving your newsletter. Because if somebody else is if one of your competitors is talking to them, but if you are also talking to them, it sort of negates the competitor's reach, right? So if they're reaching out, then it gets negated if you are constantly talking to them, but if you are not talking to them and your competitors are talking to your clients, then it sort of says that you don't care. Whereas the other person is caring more. There's a tendency to then lean towards them. So the first thing is to get started with a newsletter and invest in producing a quality newsletter. That's the first thing.
The second thing in terms of new clients or building new clients is to make sure that you start a CRM. You are building up that CRM of prospects because they may not be ready to change accountants right now, but when they're ready to change accountants, you want to have kept them. Keeping them warm by communicating with them and touching base with them. And yes, it does cost money to do this. As I said, you've gotta build this garden and attract butterflies. You've gotta invest, a certain percentage of your turnover to build this garden that just happens automatically without you having to think about it. A really good CRM that you can put your prospects into, right? And continuing to market to them is extremely important.
Now, most people just focus on a lead that's turned into a client, and then they ignore the lead that may not be ready to change accountants right now. They just let that person go and it's gone and they don't keep a record of them and/or they don't keep in touch with them. That's a big mistake.
One of the KPIs for Chan and Naylor, my own accounting firm is the number of prospects we have on the database. I wanna see that growing. We've got it to about 15,000 now. 15,000 prospects that are not clients of ours, but we continue to touch base with him, do webinars for them, newsletters so that one day when they're ready to change accountants, we've done the work to be top of mind for them to consider and that's the work we are doing. And that's the work you should be doing if you are thinking about creating a garden that attracts butterflies to you. So hopefully that that makes sense.
Kristy Fairbairn: Yeah, I think that's a really great point, Ed, to be measuring the growth of that database. You've potentially paid for that lead to come in. You haven't converted it straight away, but you've spent on it. So, we really want to continue building on that. And, I love the idea of using a KPI for your prospects as well as leads converted.
Jamie, you've just dropped something in, so your CRM is Ontraport. What do you like about that as a CRM?
Jamie Johns: Yeah, I just thought to put that in there as an example. So there are an of CRMs that people can use. We've used Ontraport just because it integrates back into where website. It also integrates into our newsletter. Then we can use Ontraport to send out invites to seminars and web webinars as well, Kristy.
Kristy Fairbairn: Yeah, that's great.
Jamie Johns: The interface is pretty cool too. Because you can set up the interface as in the LAPS, as I said earlier. So, lead in and then you can simply drag it across to the next column where you've gotta book the appointment. It's quite good like that, but don't have a favor towards Ontraport or any other. It's just that I think if you get a marketing person, whether they're part-time or full-time, they will need a tool that you can use, such as a CRM that Ed said. That was just sort of like a tip that we use.
And not only that, as Ed said with your CRM, you can be adding prospects to it all the time. So a lot of the time, we'll get live chat inquiries on our website. That's like another tip from a marketing or a sales process. You can have live chat 24 hours monitored on your website and from that, you can get leads from that. So any names, any prospects that you get, if you can have someone put them in your CRM and then you start dripping on them, dripping on them with your newsletter. Another tip is you just do a newsletter. Make sure the newsletter, then if someone clicks on it, goes back to your website so that you maximize your SEO or your searchability. And that's worked really well for us as well in that process.
I've seen some people have like a newsletter where it's just like a PDF or whatever, but you can be smart with it these days, so they click on it, and they actually take you back. If people look at it, I mean you can probably use our website example. It's very good at marketing as well, but if you look at our website and you go to the blogs, they're all there. They're actually newsletters but they're on a website. So SEO does work very effectively with monthly new content.
Kristy Fairbairn: Yeah, it's a great way to use, both resources in your business, isn't it? That your marketing team division will continually feed your sales division by investing in those kinds of things.
In this digital world that we're through, then there are all these little tips and tricks. Same as even the way that you name an image that's on your website that's searchable in SEOs and it's definitely worth building into your budget to invest some time and money in looking at those kinds of strategies. Whether you put someone on an ongoing or just work with someone on a short-term basis. I know a lot of governments do digital grants as well at the moment helping a lot of businesses come through CoVid. So it's not just for the businesses that we support, there are opportunities out there for us as accountants and bookkeepers to focus on those things too.