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CPA Firm Prospecting

     -     Aug 12th, 2010   -     Accounting Marketing   -     1 Comment

Over my career in marketing and business development I have identified one action as most important when prospecting for new business – follow up. Time and time again those who follow up and do so consistently are generally first at the table with a prospect. I was reminded of this lesson again today when I sent a follow up email to a prospect I had not heard from in a while.

The Situation

A company that manages several Family Offices came to the client seeking an audit. Seems easy enough. However, the tough part was they wanted a firm that understood the nuances of family offices. Fortunately, my client has deep expertise in that area. So I scheduled the appointment and off to the meeting we went. The meeting went well, our qualifications seemed to impress the prospect and she asked a lot of technical questions. All of this illustrating her interest in qualifying our experience and testing how deeply we really understood the topic. Upon leaving the meet myself and the partners felt we had a very good shot at winning the work.

The follow up actions from the meeting was that she was going to send us a copy of the financial to generate a fee quote.

What Happened Next?

Several days went by without any communication from the prospect. We waited a week or so and then started calling the prospect. How could we create a proposal if we did not have any financial information? For the next several weeks I called and emailed her on a consistent basis just to check in and ask for the financials. Nothing….very discouraging. So I decided that I would let the lead cool and try back in a few weeks. After all, perhaps she went on vacation, got sick or distracted by the quarter end.

The Result

Honestly I have to admit this opportunity fell to the bottom of my pipeline as I assumed we were just “blown off”. While it is rare that a company would not tell you if they went another direction, I know from personal experience it does happen. So last week I came across her name again and decided to reach out. I called and got the prospect on the phone. I reminded her of our meeting and asked if she was still interested in the audit/if we could still be of service. Turns out the CFO of the company had been fired two weeks after our meeting and was told to put the project on hold until a new CFO was identified. In our conversation she indicated they liked us the best the first time we met and she wanted to get us into to see the new CFO ASAP. Her exact words were…”Your timing is excellent”. That was music to my ears of course.

We have not yet closed the business but a second meeting did take place earlier this week. The lesson here is to follow up, follow up, follow up. Be professional but consistent. When a prospect says no or appears to not be interested there may be reasons other than the ones we first assume. By consistently following up you are telling the prospect you are interested and earnestly want their business. Besides…missing an opportunity is not a happy ending!

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