[IMGCAP(1)] Now that busy season for many accounting firms is drawing to a close, more attention turns to expanding business and developing new business. While every firm has a different way of tracking growth and revenue, BKR International reminds firms of four growth benchmarks to pursue and track consistently to stay in front of your best business opportunities:

Referral/COI Touches

Request an accounting from all leaders involved in business development of their top referral sources or circles of influence (COI). Whether each leader has a list of 10 or 30, review the ways leaders can reach out to these sources. Let these influencers know about your firm goals and the types of clients you seek. Explain the value you can deliver so that referred prospective clients are a good fit.

Client Expanded Business

Client service masters in your firm should schedule regular conversations with existing clients to identify additional service needs or concerns. Expanded business is the hallmark of strong client retention and satisfaction. In your clients’ key markets, review industry trends that may affect them in the coming year. Discuss the account with others in your firm who may have fresh ideas. Send a letter with new recommendations or schedule a discussion with prepared questions and insights. Clients will appreciate this forward-thinking approach.

New Clients

Although a significant percentage of business growth should come from existing clients, cultivating new clients requires a clear alignment between marketing and sales processes. Marketing staff need to know how many new clients — and in which industries — the firm needs every month or quarter to reach annual growth goals. Sales staff should target the average engagement required from these new clients. “We look at which niches are ripe for growth, not just in our local area but also nationally,” said Jason Tonjes, managing partner of Bland & Associates in Omaha, Neb., and the BKR International Americas Regional Chair. “We reach out with distinct marketing as well as sales strategies to communicate our firm’s value.”  

As new clients come into the firm, pursue a clear onboarding process to build trust in the team and deliver results, Tonjes added.  If not, you risk client turnover.

Pipeline 30-60-90

When marketing and sales are aligned, each function can review a pipeline that records the number and types of marketing touches required to close. Marketing tees up the sales leads to contact and engage prospects with solid data and a convincing offer. Monthly pipeline meetings will inform the team on sales opportunities up to 90 days out. This keeps revenue on track and helps the team discuss win/loss rates regularly. The pipeline meeting also provides data on which niches are performing well over time and which are lagging.

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Maureen Schwartz is executive director of BKR International, one of the top 5 global accounting associations, representing the combined strength and market exclusivity of more than 160 independent accounting and business advisory firms in over 500 offices and 80 countries.