I think we can all admit that McDonald's doesn’t even come close to serving the best hamburger around, but in the same breath we can’t deny that they've developed the perfect system for serving up those hamburgers and fries. As we can all see when we look at other successful business models out there, we find they have many systems in place that make their business run smoothly. NCI has also developed a very successful sales and marketing system for growing an accounting firm that when correctly applied has proven over time to help any firm reach new levels of success. Let’s discuss one of those systems in a successful NCI program--the appointment setting system. The foundation of a successful program starts with the appointment. In fact, whenever a CSR or an accountant contacts NCI seeking help we always start by taking a look at the quality of the appointments being set.
First, let’s start with the contacts themselves. Ask yourself where are you getting the leads from? We know that NCI has suggested several lead resources and they are all proven qualified. Additional resources for leads would include local Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau websites as well as networking functions and cold calling. Another good idea is to check the Sunday want ads for companies looking for bookkeepers. These are all good (and inexpensive) resources. Remember the 20/80 % guideline, when ordering a contact list: 20% should be new business and 80% seasoned business.
Now, the next very important step in the appointment setting process is the appointment setters and their role in the system. The question of how an appointment is set is critical. So with that in mind, who is it that the appointment setter is actually calling? We all understand that it’s a minority of Americans that own their own business and as such we have to ask ourselves what are going to be the unique needs of a small to medium-sized business owner. The short list will include of course business guidance, consultation and tax planning. Unfortunately, in America today accountants aren't meeting the needs of the small business owner. This is where the first important step of a good appointment setter begins, with having the proper mindset.
When an appointment setter picks up the phone and dials that number, they need to understand that they are preparing to offer the owner/prospect an opportunity to meet with a qualified CSR. Their CSR is trained to discuss the needs of the business owner and determine if they qualify for this level of service. If found qualified, they can begin to experience an unequaled level of service provided by a business coach and adviser normally only experienced by much larger companies.
The appointment setter needs to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are part of the best accounting firm not only in their city but also within their state. Belief is one of the most important elements in selling anything. This applies to appointment setting as well. The appointment setter should also be made to feel that they are an important part of the team. Unfortunately this is not always the case and it will affect your outcome negatively. The salesperson and the appointment setters are a team that need to work together effectively to make the program a success and in turn your business a success.
The appointment setters begin the selling process. How they communicate with the prospect and their ability to develop trust in a short phone conversation is paramount to qualifying and setting a quality appointment. A good appointment setter can make the job of any CSR go much smoother. Think of it as an Olympic relay race, the appointment setter starts the process and sets the CSR up to cross the finish line by signing a good long-term monthly client.
In conclusion, whether you’re an accountant doing your own sales or a CSR, finding the right person for the appointment setting position can be compared to a contractor building a house. You have to start with a strong, solid foundation and short cuts in this vital area can be the reason for it to all come tumbling down.
Chris Clark – Executive Editor, NCN
Executive Editor, New Client News and Client Support Services
Chris is the oldest son of NCI CEO and founder, Bruce Clark. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA in 2005. He has worked for New Clients since April 2006 filling a variety of roles including Senior Account Executive, client support specialist, editor of and contributor to the NCI newsletter, New Client News, appointment setter evaluator, seminar presenter on web and email marketing, and playing the prospective client during seminar role play sessions. Chris also helped Bruce edit his first book, The NCI Effect which came out in 2011. In his leisure time Chris is an avid reader of fiction, graphic novels and the internet. He enjoys film, video games, science and technology. He lives with his wife Kathy and their two dogs Charlie and Daisy, in Southern New Jersey.