Las Vegas (June 18, 2004) -- If your firm isn't successful bidding on an engagement, ask why, advised Christopher Perrino, business development partner at the Cincinnati firm of Barnes Dennig & Co., speaking at the 15th annual Association for Accounting Marketing Summit.

Perrino also advised asking who got the engagement and tracking the data to spot trends, including the most commonly given reasons for your firm not getting an engagement. For example, one reason might be a belief that your fee is too high. You might discover that the prospect doesn't see the value that your firm would provide, or that you didn't estimate the job well, or that you planned procedures that your competitor didn’t, Perrino says.

Another reason your firm didn't win the engagement might be that the prospect wanted a bigger firm, according to Perrino. Further investigation on your part might reveal that the potential client has venture capital needs or a complex financial structure that they perceive can only be handled by a larger firm, or that your presentation lacked the needed sophistication. Perrino suggested telling stories and presenting testimonials about complex issues that your firm solved to overcome these objections.

There are a number of other reasons your firm might not get an engagement, including cronyism, a service provider of the prospect recommending someone else, a pre-existing relationship with a competitor, or the prospect deciding to stay with the firm that it was using. Perrino said that the best way to handle these and other objections that come out at presentations to clients is to make sure that your staff is ready with answers to overcome them.

-- Howard Wolosky

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