With the support of New Clients, Inc. and Thomson Reuters, firms can attract more customers and serve them successfully.
(This article was written by Thomson Reuters and will appear in their May Solutions Newsletter)
You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s true of anything, but especially true if you’re embarking on a new venture.
It’s certainly how the founder of Donald Button, CPA, PLLC feels looking back at the beginnings of his own firm in Greensboro, NC. And he doesn’t hesitate to admit that expert guidance of New Clients, Inc. (NCI) not only helped him launch his own firm but do it very successfully.
Back in 2002, after seven years working at an executive benefit consulting firm, Button thought the best approach to opening his own practice would be to buy an established firm. But NCI had a different idea, suggesting instead that Button start from scratch. He says he found it intriguing that for a smaller investment he could build rather than buy.
So Button took their advice. He began working with NCI, whose offerings revolve around teaching accounting firms how to attract more small-business clients using a strategic sales approach. In other words, NCI teaches accountants how to sell. “If I’d just purchased a practice, I would have failed miserably because I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” Button says. “Building a practice allowed me some breathing room to understand all the things I didn’t know and some time to practice them. I didn’t know 90 percent of the things I know today.”
That’s something NCI hears frequently, says Todd Steinberg, vice president of sales at NCI. “Accountants have a lot of technical skills,” he says, “but one of the missing pieces for them is ‘How do you really build a business?’”
To establish his new practice, Button chose NCI’s Client Acquisition Program (CAP). At the core of the program is this: NCI will hire and train someone skilled in marketing to do all of a firm’s selling and client acquisition. CAP includes training at NCI’s Practice Development Seminar (PDS)—also available as a separate offering—which teaches accountants essential strategies for marketing their practice and acquiring more clients. CAP also includes field training, six months of weekly coaching, staff training, a website, and an electronic sales presentation.
“We got a chance to walk through it and put everything through the software, which gave us at least a basis for getting started,” he explains.
He admits there was still plenty to learn when he first opened his practice. For one thing, he says, he hadn’t been in a small-business environment where he had to do his own payroll.
But with the help of NCI, Button got off to an impressive start. In the first 12 months, his firm reached $300,000 in annualized billings—three times the guarantee offered by NCI for CAP participants at the time.
“As long as we followed their approach, they guaranteed us $100,000 in annualized billings in the first 12 months or we’d get some of our money back,” Button says. “It seemed like a minimized risk, and it turned out to be a worthwhile investment.”
PROVEN SUCCESS STRATEGIES
Today, NCI still offers a unique money-back guarantee with CAP: $300,000 annualized billings in 24 months.
And Button still uses the NCI method to sell today, although he’s customized it to his practice over the years.
“When you’re selling an intangible—which advising and consulting is—having a systematic sales approach makes it a lot easier,” he says. “The people you’re selling to don’t know what they need, because they’re not accountants, so instead of asking what they need, you put together a package of services that they’re going to need. You present it to them and they say, ‘Yes, that’s what I need.’”
NCI’s systematic approach to selling is a great fit with the process-oriented approach to workflow that Thomson Reuters follows. It’s also an invaluable approach to serving customers after the NCI approach has brought them in the door. According to Steinberg, all of NCI’s top clients use Thomson Reuters software.
“Because of the integration the software provides and the cutting-edge technology, our own clients’ experiences tell us that putting Thomson Reuters in front of them gives us a good name,” Steinberg says.
Button adds that over the years he’s spoken to practice owners who use other software. Based on that, he’s confident that Thomson Reuters software has saved him from having to hire additional people. It’s largely due to the ease of integration and efficiency such as allowing one person to create a corporate tax return in 10 minutes or less—all of which keeps the cost of the firm’s services down, he says.
Ultimately, Button adds that he probably would not have started his practice without the guidance and support of NCI. “If accountants want a systematic approach to selling accounting services, NCI is their method,” he says. “If they want a systematized approach to processing monthly accounting, payroll and tax, then Thomson Reuters offers a package that they may want to consider.
CONNECT TO NCI
Over the last 30 years, New Clients, Inc. (NCI) has helped 4,500 accounting firms establish marketing best practices, with a variety of programs to guide accountants in building their business.
In addition to helping firms develop a successful marketing strategy, NCI provides guidance for practices that want to be on a one-stop shop, offering everything from tax services to financial planning—and much more. Get details on NCI’s products and services at newclientsinc.com or by calling 1-888-New-Clients (639-2543).
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