For many accountancy practices, growth strategies centre around one core objective; winning more business.
Whilst accountancy practices have traditionally won clients through recommendation and word of mouth; it would be unrealistic to expect the methods of previous eras to meet the demands of today’s technologically driven marketplace effectively.
Competition for business in the accountancy sector is fierce, and nothing less than a well-structured and consistent sales strategy will achieve anything like the desired growth results.
For some accountancy firms, this may just be par for the course and expected as part of their business development or sales teams MO. But what about those firms that don’t have the luxury of a sales or business development team?
So how do accountancy firms, especially those without dedicated business development or sales teams, grow revenue or win new business?
Identifying effective fee earners
Whilst there may not always be a specialised sales function within a business, it shouldn’t mean that sales can’t happen.
In many cases, there will already be individuals within the business who possess all or most of the skills necessary to conduct sales activities. All they need is some guidance and structure on how to go about it.
Even if they do possess some of the core skills to be a strong fee earner, not everyone will want to assume a position where they are expected to generate fees. However, there will also be employees who have just not been given the opportunity.
With some regular and structured personal development reviews, it can be a quick and simple exercise to identify employees with both the skills and desire to become effective fee earners.
When assessing employees as potential fee earners, we recommend that you look for the following traits:
Ambition – generally, individuals who have an ambition to progress their career will have a desire to expand their knowledge and expertise across a range of functions, sales included. Individuals with this mindset will also see the success of generating fees as a way of strengthening their case for promotion as the opportunities arise.
Commercially-minded – employees who can see beyond the basic function of their role and understand the commercial impact of their work will likely have a bias toward sales type activities. A broader business awareness and approach presents a strong foundation for those with a fee earning agenda.
Interpersonal skills – although this may sound obvious, it’s not necessarily the boldest or brashest that make good salespeople. Honesty, integrity and empathy are often the most common traits of the most successful salespeople. Whilst you may not always title roles as sales roles, finding individuals within your business who can build relationships based on trust and openness can offer an excellent and fruitful route to winning new business.
Motivation – highly motivated individuals will usually thrive when given targets or objectives and adapt well to a sales environment.
Developing your own effective fee earners
Once you have assessed your employees to identify potential fee earners within your business, then the next steps are to define the structure and processes that will give them a platform to perform and succeed.
Value proposition – A strong and clear value proposition that is consistently communicated and simply presented to fee earners will arm them with an effective sales message and give them confidence when conducting sales activities.
PDPs – Personal development plans will allow you to monitor the performance of the individual beyond the basic sales revenue figures. A two-way review process will allow you and the individual to identify strengths and weaknesses and potential skills gaps and areas for development. This will allow you to structure training and development plans to address areas of improvement.
Training and development – Training and development can quickly and easily address areas for improvement, particularly in relation to sales tactics and processes. Training on asking open questions dovetails into sales techniques such as SPIN selling and will enable your fee earners to compliment their interpersonal skills with some basic sales tactics.
Recognition and reward – Recognition and reward will add motivation and credibility to fee earners within the business. It is important that people get recognition for their successes and for a job well done. Rewarding successes with commission and bonuses will also stimulate the appetite to conduct and succeed with sales activities.
Tried and trusted fee earners
If time is at a premium and you need to win more business and generate fees in the short-term, alternative options are available.
Established fee earners with excellent track records for business development often have a client portfolio and revenue stream that they port with when they move employers. In some cases these revenue streams are worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Although these fee earners are rarely present on the open market, this does not necessarily mean that they are not available for alternative opportunities. At Public Practice Recruitment Ltd, we have a database of high-calibre, fee-earning accountants and we help hundreds of businesses to find those that can contribute immediately to growth and revenue strategies.
Are you recruiting for an accountancy position?
If you are looking to recruit for your accountancy practice, Public Practice Recruitment Ltd can help.
Exclusively developed for the accountancy industry, our professional accountancy recruitment team will seek the highest calibre of candidate for your role, so you’ll be confident they will actively contribute to the success of your accountancy firm.
Call Public Practice Recruitment Ltd today on 03335 777 787 to discover how we can support you.