[IMGCAP(1)]I recently had the pleasure of hosting a roundtable call for the Association for Accounting Marketing on marketing and selling during tax season. This is always a hot topic for marketers and professionals alike. Everyone recognizes that the months between January and April present all firms the most opportunity. But, given all the other demands—like client services—how do you manage? When surveying more than 200 marketing directors and CPAs, I found there to be two common challenges professionals face most often: 1. Time and 2. Task oriented vs. client oriented.

I have two tips to help you get through your busy season and come out of it with a host of leads.

Block time for marketing

Time is the number one challenge we all face when it comes to marketing. As my good friend JB Brocato puts it,” time is not a problem, simply something we hang our hat on.” I have to agree with Joe. We will always be faced with challenges of time, no matter what time of year it is. Maximizing your opportunities will be about using your time efficiently.

One of the best approaches I have seen work over the years is to block time for marketing on your calendar. Early mornings or evenings tend to work best for most people. It allows you take meetings, follow up on opportunities, review something for your marketing department, write some content, or participate in your social network of choice before your day gets started. Having a list of activities (your personal marketing plan) helps you prioritize your efforts.

This is where your marketing can come in handy. Have them help you plan out prospect meetings, mixers or other important events or activities around your blocks of marketing time.

Focus on the Client

When we get busy, we tend to focus on getting a task done rather than thinking about how that fits into the overall picture. Accountants, unlike any other profession, have the opportunity to meet and talk with their clients every year. Not only that, you have one of the most trusted relationships of any professional. Unfortunately, most of us don’t use the time we have with our clients as wisely as we should.

Rather than just talk to the client about the task at hand (like their tax return), take a few extra minutes to ask about how things are going with their business. Create a list of 5 questions you can ask to help identify potential challenges the client is facing (and email sjohnson@koltin.com for suggestions). I am not asking you to solve those problems right now, just simply identify the opportunity and, more importantly, write it down. Don’t forget to tell the client before you end your call or meeting that you think you might be able to help them with the particular issue and ask if it would be okay to discuss this after tax season.

Opportunities don’t stop just because you are busy. Marketing and selling takes a consistent effort. By taking a little time each week and asking the right questions, you can identify dozens of opportunities that will help fuel your growth.

Sarah Johnson works with CPA firms to help them grow more effectively. Her counsel and strategies have helped move firms to the next level in their marketing and sales efforts. Koltin Consulting Group serves CPA, law and financial advisory firms with strategic management consulting, M&A services, executive recruiting and strategic marketing and sales consulting. Connect with Sarah at 312.245.1681, sjohnson@koltin.com  or www.linkedin.com/in/sjjohnson.