Anybody who knows how to eat knows how to generate a lead, right? You call a banker or a lawyer, make lunch reservations at the local chop house and before you’ve digested the creamed spinach you’ve landed a hot prospect.
Not so fast! Populating your pipeline with qualified leads takes much more than a pricey lunch. Done right, lead generation not only yields strong prospects, it also reveals valuable market insights you can only get face to face. If I hear you thinking, “Who needs to generate leads when opportunities are falling from the sky?” keep reading!
What’s So Difficult?
Few CPAs take the time to get good enough at lead generation to make it a repeatable, predictable process. Your average partner succeeds here and there, but asked what works when it works, he or she is hard-pressed to explain. And because most firms have been so flush with business in recent years, there’s been little motivation to polish technique and share best practices.
What’s more, for many the experience can be downright anxiety-producing. But with experience, you’ll be able to push through the discomfort and find your stride. Think about it. The first time you took your training wheels off or stood on top of a ski slope you felt similar anxiety and uncertainty. But they dissipated the more you practiced, right?
Beyond comfort, you need direction. Make sure you’re pursuing leads strategically. The best approach is to go after a specific market niche. As you know, the heady environment in which CPAs have been working for the past several years won’t last forever. The smart money is on firms that are targeting market niches that they hope to “own” when the rush is over and opportunities are no longer washing up over the side. Whether it’s auto dealers, financial institutions, health care or commercial development, go with your strength and nail that niche.
Get Out There!
The key to generating a lead is generating information first through a professional “research call”. It’s a matter of meeting with thought leaders, other providers, likely buyers – even competitors.
It’s amazingly easy to convince someone to meet with you. Just pick up the phone, tell them you’re focusing on growing your practice in their industry and explain you’d like to come see them and get their advice. Start the process with someone you know. Once there, ask questions about their industry, not their company personally. Keep questions broad and focus on issues, associations, publications and leaders.
Leave with names of others to call. Learn all you can about the niche you want to fill and the clients you want to land. Research calls can be extremely effective in eventually yielding leads.
But the immediate objectives are to:
- Gain insight into buyer mentality
- Identify firms your firm might consider acquiring
- Uncover gaps in opportunities for service delivery that your firm could fill
- Understand what the competition is offering and how to distinguish yourself from it, and
- Determine how to brand and position your firm for maximum market advantage.
Leads will fall out of the research call process.
Lead generation isn’t complicated. But it requires a commitment just like an exercise program. With that commitment, the results can be astonishing—a pipeline filled with leads, and a quality revenue stream. Leaving a critically important work of lead generation to your marketing department or a small handful of partners will not get your practice where you want it to be. It takes consistent effort from all willing partners, whether they carry the title “rainmaker” or not.
At the end of the day, generating leads by generating knowledge is a proactive step to landing the kind of clients you most want to serve and strategically directing the future of your firm.