It’s no secret that there’s money to be made in the accounting industry. In 2020 alone, the industry generated $110 billion in revenue, and it’s only expected to grow more as technology creates additional opportunities for accounting firms. However, simply owning an accounting business doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a fair cut of accounting revenue.
As the most well-known accounting firms continue to dominate the field, many accounting firms are experiencing stagnant profits and minimal growth. If you fall into this category, you may feel discouraged about your firm’s future. But don’t worry—with a bit of effort and a lot of lead nurturing, you can capture your fair share of the market.
Not sure what lead nurturing is? Keep reading to learn what the process entails, how you should use it in the accounting industry, and why it works.
Lead nurturing may sound like an odd concept, but it’s pretty straightforward. The process involves developing relationships with leads in various stages of the sales process. For every lead you contact who’s ready to buy right away, there are several more who need an extra push before purchasing a product or service. Sometimes, that push takes a few weeks; other times, particularly in the accounting industry, it takes over a year (585 days on average).
Depending on who you ask, lead nurturing is often touted as the most crucial element of any B2B appointment setting program. Without a lead nurturing campaign, the vast majority of your lead base would fall out of your sales pipeline, and you would be left with an opportunity shortage.
Think about it this way: If you receive a cold call today, would you agree to meet with a sales rep right away? Even if you need what the caller is selling, the answer is probably no. However, if that salesperson follows up every week to share new information about their product, ask about your needs, and explain how they can alleviate your pain points, that initial “no” may turn into a “yes.” That’s the basic principle behind lead nurturing—people need time to make a purchasing decision. If you’re present throughout the decision-making process, you’re more likely to end up with a signed contract in the end.
When it comes to accounting B2B lead generation, lead nurturing is the most lengthy and multifaceted step. You can nail down one or two effective lead nurturing strategies in other industries, but that doesn’t fly in accounting. You’ll spend nearly 20 phone calls corresponding with the average accounting lead, and every call needs to introduce new information while adding value.
Here are four tips to help you become a lead nurturing master in the accounting industry.
When embarking on a new accounting B2B lead generation strategy, it’s important to keep in mind that you might have to wait over a year to see any tangible results. If you’re looking for instant gratification, then accounting isn’t the right field for you. You’re not selling a fancy product or an emergency fix—you’re selling a partnership, which is neither glamorous nor urgent (in most cases).
Potential customers have something to gain by choosing your business as their accounting provider, but they won’t see that advantage until after signing a contract. Additionally, most leads already have an accounting provider, and unless that provider is actively causing issues, finding a new one is typically low on a lead’s priority list. That’s why it takes so long for appointment setters to finally clinch a meeting with the average lead—accounting services aren’t a pressing need.
Because accounting lead generation is such a slow process, your sales team needs to approach every interaction with patience. You can’t rush the process or force a lead to move further down the pipeline unwillingly—if you do, you’ll end up losing your best opportunities. Additionally, you might be tempted to write off a lead if they’re taking too long to warm up to a partnership, but you should never remove a prospect from the pipeline if there’s a chance they’ll turn into a client. A year of lead nurturing is well worth it if that lead ends up signing a $20,000 contract.
Would you rather prepare a balance sheet than a sell sheet? Abstrakt can tackle your lead generation strategy while you focus on your business.
Every lead has a communication method they use most. By sticking with one communication type, you’re alienating a large portion of your client base and missing valuable sales opportunities. There are many ways to connect with accounting prospects, including:
- Warm calls: Once you get your introductory call out of the way, you’re no longer cold calling. Traditional cold calls are impersonal and focused on sales, whereas warm calls involve a two-way conversation focusing on value instead of sales. Throughout the lengthy lead nurturing process, you should call a qualified lead every few weeks and build on past discussions.
- Personalized emails: Emails are less interruptive than calls. Your leads don’t have to open an email right away—they can read it at any time without the pressure of immediately responding. This can be both a good and bad thing; there’s no way to tell if they actually read your email, but they might appreciate learning about your company on their own time instead of being badgered on a call. Thorough, personalized, and informative emails are a tremendously impactful lead nurturing tool.
- Social media messages: Odds are, your leads are on social media. Over 70% of U.S. adults report using at least one social media site, which means there’s a good chance you’ll find any given lead on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. If you already have a social media marketing strategy, you can nurture leads by sending them links to curated posts addressing common accounting questions. If not, you can use social media like any other messaging tool and capture leads that might otherwise have avoided your calls and emails.
Using multiple forms of communication for each lead can increase your chances of building a connection and eventually scheduling a sales meeting. It’s hard to reach your future clients when they’re busy keeping track of their company’s finances, but switching up your communication approach can help.
During the lead nurturing process, the last thing you want to do is lose track of a prospect’s position in the sales pipeline. Why? You might repeat a point you’ve already made or send an email that’s irrelevant to the lead’s current needs, which shows you’re not paying attention and you’re sloppy with details. Once a lead starts viewing you as disorganized, it’s unlikely that they’ll trust you with their finances.
To keep your pipeline tidy and organized, you should log details about every conversation in a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Then, every time you follow up with a lead, you can access the following information:
- Key decision-maker’s name and contact information: Ideally, the same sales development representative (SDR) would communicate with a lead as they make their way through the pipeline. In reality, multiple SDRs may jump in at different points in the process. Before sending a nurturing message to a lead, SDRs can consult their CRM to ensure they have the correct contact information.
- Last correspondence date and type: You may have dozens of leads in your pipeline at one time. It’s unlikely you’ll remember every call, email, or social media message with a lead, but your CRM can help jog your memory. Before sending a follow-up message, you should make sure your last correspondence wasn’t too recent and check the mode of communication. If you called last time, an email might be the right approach this time.
- Potential timeline: Every lead has a possible timeline in which they might make a deal. One potential client may tell you up front that they won’t be looking for another provider until tax season next year. By putting that information in your CRM, you can tailor your sales approach based on how soon tax season is approaching.
- Details about past messages: Repeating the same message is a waste of time for both you and your lead. To ensure every call, email, and social media message builds on the last, you should make notes in your CRM after each correspondence. Keeping detailed notes also helps you customize your sales approach based on what a lead said in the past.
With the help of a CRM, you can make sure no lead goes uncontacted, and every message has the exact effect you’re hoping for.
Calls, emails, and social media messages are effective on their own, but they make the strongest impression when combined with content. You can tell leads on the phone that your current clients love you, but unless you have evidence to back that up, your words are hollow. Supporting content comes in many forms, including:
- Marketing collateral: A well-crafted brochure, sell sheet, case study, or infographic gets your point across exactly how you want it to. You may go off on a tangent or lose a lead’s interest during a call, but marketing collateral is always compelling.
- Blog posts: Your leads probably have questions about their accounting services. You can answer those questions and establish credibility in one fell swoop with an expertly written blog post.
- Custom videos: Words are often empty, but videos have weight behind them. When leads are able to see the value you’re providing through a client testimonial or company overview video, they can better envision themselves as a future client.
- Website pages: There’s a reason companies spend big bucks on developing websites. Copywriters and designers spend months honing your content and presenting your services in the best way possible. Directing a lead to your website is an excellent way to convey value.
The end goal of lead nurturing is to present your company as a valuable asset to leads. You want potential clients to feel like they’re gaining something from a partnership instead of just providing you with another revenue source. When leads can read your content and find merit on their own instead of just hearing it in a sales pitch, they’re far more likely to set an appointment.
Now that you know how to nurture accounting leads, you may be wondering: Is it worth the effort? Our accounting clients can tell you that the answer is an unequivocal “yes.” When it takes more than 18 months for most leads to set an appointment, you have to stay top of mind the entire time to win their business. If you cease contact, you probably won’t end up sitting across the table when a lead finally signs on the dotted line.
Building a lead nurturing strategy is a significant undertaking, and it’s difficult to get the process right if sales isn’t your strong suit. If you want to enjoy the benefits of a solid nurturing strategy without having to make a single call or type an email, partner with Abstrakt for B2B appointment setting services. We know how to generate leads for our accounting partners—our very first outsourced appointment setting client was an accounting firm that’s still our partner to this day.
Whether it takes five weeks or 15 months to set an appointment with your ideal potential client, we’ll do whatever we can to keep them in our pipeline. Our top priority is growing your business, and we have the expertise and experience to make it happen. If you’re ready to grow your accounting firm, get in touch with us today and learn more about our B2B appointment setting services.