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Closest you get to cloning: Automating biz dev

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June 13, 2012

If you’re like most busy accounting professionals I know, you probably aren’t able to devote as much time to marketing your firm and as you’d like. I’m going to highlight a strategy today that can help you achieve significant leverage from the time you do carve out towards your new business development efforts.

Clone yourself—over and over again

“If only I could clone myself!” is a popular cry in our profession. Imagine all the business development you could get done if there were two of you!

When it comes to marketing follow-up, I have some good news to share. You can actually do better than cloning yourself when it comes to scheduling email follow-ups.

You do this by setting up an autoresponder sequence in your email marketing software, which is an email or series of emails that you write once (and only once—this is the key). Then you schedule it to be sent automatically to new leads based on a timeline you set—and they are sent out over and over again on your behalf, without you having to lift a finger.

For example, say you have a ”Contact Us” form on your website. You probably make an effort to reply to inquiries sent in via this form as soon as possible.

But since the form is visible on the internet, which is open 24/7, it’s not always possible for you, or your staff, to send an immediate reply.

So, you setup your autoresponder to send an email back immediately from you that contains the basic points of your normal lead follow-up. The advantage is that your prospect has an email immediately, with useful information and your contact information. They are one step further along in the sales process.

If you have a sequence of emails available, you can stagger the subsequent emails to deliver at intervals from there. For example, I have an autoresponder sequence setup for free trial users of Chrometa, so that they receive tips and tricks for using our software regularly throughout our 14-day free trial period.

Step 1: Write the emails (or use old ones)

Pull up some old emails that you’ve written previously as a starting point. They could be emails you sent directly to a prospective or current client. It’d be a shame to let the knowledge you shared fade away right there. Let’s get that expertise into an autoresponder sequence.

Also check previous email newsletters you wrote, so that you can repurpose the expertise you shared previously into the autoresponder, to continue impressing new prospective clients.

Step 2: How to setup the autoresponder sequence

Most email marketing software with some level of sophistication has autoresponder capabilities. If you’re in the market for a new product, I’d start with MailChimp, AWeber, and InfusionSoft (in no particular order; I use all three myself).

Once you have your emails written in these programs, it’s just a matter of setting up the new autoresponder within the application, and specifying the criteria that will trigger it being sent.

Onwards with your new automation

As you march on with your new marketing assistant, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  1. When you write a detailed email back to a prospective or current client, be on the lookout for general advice that would be well served in your autoresponder follow-up.
  2. Every newsletter you write should be reused in an autoresponder sequence. Turn your hard work into a lead follow-up gift that keeps on giving!

The rewards of a simple yet well thought-out autoresponder program can be quite significant. Once properly set up, you can have tens or hundreds of emails being sent out on your firm’s behalf every day, weekends included. Which leaves you free to sit back and field replies from well-qualified, pre-sold leads.

Brett Owens is chief executive and co-founder of Chrometa, a Sacramento, Calif.-based provider of time-tracking software that records activity in real time. Previously marketed to the legal community, Chrometa is branching out to accounting prospects. Gains include the ability to discover previously undocumented billable time, saving time on billing reconciliation and improving personal productivity. Brett can be reached at 916-254-0260 and brett@chrometa.com.

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