I have spent a lot of time on the phone since beginning my career at NCI. After two and a half years spent dialing and smiling I decided it was time for a change. I always thought that my skills would be better utilized in a face-to-face environment and I realized that I had the opportunity to explore this career change right in front of me by becoming a CSR for an accounting firm.
During my time as an NCI representative, I spoke with a lot of excellent CSRs and a few sub-par ones. This has given me the opportunity to identify what separates the best CSRs from those that can’t cut it. Here are a few of the tips and tricks I picked up from my time with NCI and my time spent with one of our recruiters/trainers, Bob Shafer.
Make the most of the resources at your disposal!
The NCI staff, whether you have spent years with them or not, is at your disposal. They want to assist you, they want to help you reach your goals. If you are struggling, reach out to the NCI Senior Account Executive who signed you up for your program for guidance. NCI cannot help you if you will not communicate. We have webinars, coaching calls, recorded versions of our live seminars, unlimited phone support, instructional videos, forms, a recommended reading list etc. Make the most of it all and you will see increased results.
Be patient and persistent, you reap what you sow.
The first time you present to an interested prospect is often not the last time. You will need to follow up, again, and again in many cases. The key is to be smart about when and how you do it. If you’re in the area, stop by! Be sure to stay in front of your prospective clients so when they do decide to make a move, they know who to call. Be sure to send prospects usual tax or business information that applies to them from time-to-time to demonstrate the value your firm can provide. Take time to listen and care about their business when you spend time with them, showing you genuinely care, making a connection will pay dividends over time. Position yourself as a trusted advisor and the client will seek you out when they have a need and what could be better than that?
Think you have down time as a CSR? Think again. You must stay active.
You are probably not as organized as you think. A little extra preparation is always a good thing. You haven’t set enough appointments and yes, that means you need to do more cold calling! If you lead by example, your appointment setters will work harder when they see you doing the same! You need to be somewhat active in the local business community to develop additional business relationships. You should join local business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and local BNI (Business Network International) groups. For networking purposes it’s also a good idea to maintain some kind of social media presence such as a LinkedIn page and/or a Facebook business page. If you set one of these up, make sure you update it regularly to get the most out of it. Always remember to ask for referrals when the time is right. Don’t do it right away, you have to let your firm demonstrate value first. Once that has occurred, a good time to bring up referrals is when you are face-to-face such as during a monthly pick-up run. You also should be setting your goals down on paper both for the short and long term, and be sure to revisit them often. You need to stay up to date on your paperwork. You need to continue learning new things related to sales and accounting product knowledge. As soon as you get complacent and inert, your results will start to falter. The bottom line is never stop being a student and always look to be more prepared for your next opportunity.
Those are the three factors that I am looking to embody each and every day. If you or your CSR are not doing these three things (1. Utilize NCI expertise. 2. Persistent follow up is essential. 3. Stay active) you are not doing everything you can to grow your business as effectively as possible.
A final tip: I do everything I can to stay in the mind of prospective or existing clients. One way to accomplish this is with a simple gift. No one needs another magnet and no one needs something they will throw away the moment you step outside the office. My suggestion? Order Clickheats. (www.clickheat.us) We all have our aches and pains, especially as we get older, and these little wonders do just the trick in alleviating them. Plus with winter bearing down on us, we all need to stay warm. You might even want to pick one up for your significant other. They are reusable and unique and will capture the attention of your prospect or valued client–and they will never forget who gave it to them! I got mine from a local mall for about $1.60 for a hand warmer size, buy in bulk and negotiate in person and you can get a similar deal!
Chris Clark is the oldest son of New Clients Inc. founder and CEO Bruce Clark. He has worked as a Senior Account Executive at NCI for the past four years. During that time he has presented at the Practice Development Seminar on Internet and E-mail marketing and he also plays the prospective client during the seminar role play sessions. Chris also edits and contributes to the NCI newsletter, New Client News.