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Build it… but will they?

By Wendy Nemitz, Founder of Ingenuity Marketing Group

A very valued team member at Ingenuity got a great offer from EY and took it. Having lunch with her a month later, she told me that she “books” a cube there for the time she will be working in the office and that, while partners have offices, many team members books a cube when they need to work in the office.

Wow. I had always heard that EY is serious about work life balance but that is amazing. We have always been VERY flexible and many of our employees say that is the number one benefit we offer. We have won several national awards for flexibility at work. But the truth is that the flexibility depends on Dawn and me. We are both mothers and have both insisted from day one that work and life have to agree. We insist on it for ourselves and it has always seemed normal to us that every other responsible professional would need the same and would figure out how to make it work.

That is a great strategy for a small company but at a large company, it could easily lose its punch from one department manager who pretends to support the policy but really makes it clear to their team that they need to be in their chairs from eight to five.

I am very impressed by the wisdom of this Big Four firm that embeds flexibility into its built environment. I would be very interested in other firms that create a cultural shift through a built environment.

Image of closed sign

I Hate to Close

By Wendy Nemitz, Founder of Ingenuity Marketing Group 

Closing a sale is simple.

You wouldn’t know it from how much energy most professional service providers put into avoiding it. You would think it was a root canal; the way most professionals protest, they would rather do anything than close a sale.

Closing a sale is not magic. It is simply making sure that the questions have been answered, necessary issues have been raised, and potential clients know you would like to work with them.

Closing a professional service sale sounds like this:

  • “Your business sounds like a great fit for our firm. We would enjoy working with you and giving you great service. When will you be making a decision?”
  • “We have certainly enjoyed talking through your challenges to profitability. We have gone through the process for cost segregation and how we can analyze the data and help you pinpoint both cost savings and profit improvement strategies. We would enjoy moving forward with this project. When would you like to start?”
  • “I enjoy working with family businesses and have been able to watch many of the succession plans we’ve worked on go smoothly into place and keep both the business and the family happy. Shall we set up a meeting to start working through the major issues?”
  • “I have time to begin this project next week. Is that soon enough for you?”
  • “I enjoyed meeting you and appreciate your trust in our firm. How would you like me to follow up with you?”

I am making a change in my business and as a result am interviewing people to help me. No one closes! Most of the professionals I have spoken with take an hour to meet with me, answer my questions, tell me about their firms and then smile and shake my hand. Almost no one asks when this change will take place or even tells me they would enjoy working with me. Only a few follow up. This leaves me unsure of what to do next and if my company is a good fit for their firm.

Pushy Sales People

Many professionals are afraid of appearing pushy or “salesy” if they close any kind of sales interview. They think they might be pushing people to make decisions they are not ready to make.

Why would they be at your firm if they did not need you? They need you. If you can help them with their problems or concerns, you need to tell them so and tell them you would like to work with them. Closing a sale is not about pushing me or any potential client. It is about assuring the potential client of your sincere interest in working with them and your ability to perform the job. If you do not assure them that you are interested in the work, why should they choose you?

It is a real kindness to potential clients to assure them of your interest in their organizations and your firm’s ability to serve them well. It shows consideration to ask them what the timeline for their decisions are and to suggest a next step. Very few potential clients hire new firms regularly. It is your job to tell them the process and help them get started.

The market has changed and most people now have practice development and new client acquisition in their job descriptions. One of the most valuable things you can think about is how to close a sale. Don’t look for a magic word or phrase because there is not one. Think about something you can say that is sincere, that sounds like you, and that directs the potential client to the next step. You can use any of the phrases listed.

Rehearse saying this phrase a few times and write it down. Ask your potential client good questions about their challenges and opportunities. Be genuinely interested. Tell the potential client about how your firm can help. Find out what questions or concerns they had with their former provider. Address those questions. And when the conversation is done and it seems natural, tell them you want the business. Ask when you can start. Tell them what the next step is and make that prospect into your best new client.

What three questions do you need to close a deal? Send us an email and I’ll send you the slides from my Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) Summit presentation, “3 Questions to Close the Deal and What You Need to Make Them Effective.”

 

Five Habits of Competitive Firms

If you are reading this as the principal or partner of a firm, you know your days are numbered.

You are either mid-career or late career. Most technology we use daily didn’t exist prior to your birth. The value of young talent has appreciated like gold.

Feeling obsolete yet? Wait, there’s more unfairness.

Your company’s future success hinges on attracting and training young talent while also delivering sophisticated consulting expertise to clients who demand high and immediate value for their fees.

You need to compete.

Ingenuity focuses on helping you compete. Our insights are based on hundreds of leadership and client interviews and in-depth competitive intelligence. Based on this data, we reveal five habits of consistently competitive firms.

Read more

How to Get Your Employees to Use Social Media for Business Development

 

Social media is an underutilized tool (and a gold mine) for business development. While it may not have the answers to every problem, it can be a great way togenerate leads and stay visible 24/7 whenever buyers are looking for you. 

Put the power in their hands.

We recently conducted a client training session on social media and incorporated a game to get employees with all levels of social media knowledge interacting with each other, sharing knowledge, connecting and posting more freely. The game resulted in five new RFPs the firm would not have otherwise known about as well as a great new client — thanks to the quick thinking of one of their administrative staff!

Read a Case Study here.

The game was designed to make participants aware of the variety of social media (and other marketing resources) available and encourage them to participate at a slightly higher level than they have been (which could mean anything from checking their LinkedIn account more than once a year to following reporters and editors on Twitter). Because employees played in teams, it was a good way for them to see what their peers were using and to get used to sharing each other’s updates. We invite you to have your employees play this game as a new or refresher course in social media.

Try the following “challenges” with your team:

  • Find Twitter handles of local business media (1 point for each handle)
  • Send/ accept LinkedIn invites to/ from relevant industry connections (1 point for each connection)
  • Find relevant articles/ firm news and post, retweet or repost (1 point for each)
  • Comment on or like the posts of clients, referral sources or prospective clients (1 point for each)

Give prizes to those with the most points at the end of the month.

Twitter
Twitter has become a great tool for local business media which is why so many reporters and media outlets are using it. In the time allowed, participants found a total of 70 handles (such as @TCBmag for Twin Cities Business). Twitter is a great way for professionals to gather industry news and stay current on reporters and what news they are covering. This exercise showed how easy it is to find these handles to stay on top of what everyone is talking about.

LinkedIn
Connections on LinkedIn have meant new business and recruits for many individuals and businesses. By completing this exercise, participants suddenly had new connections (700 to be exact) for business through a network they hadn’t previously considered. It’s ok for participants to add coworkers and fellow alumni. Due to the way LinkedIn networks its individual profiles, each person added can mean access to many new prospective clients for the firm.

Participation
The points each participant gathered reflected the edge one individual can have over his or her peers if they are better utilizing social channels. By using multiple resources, employees are able to reach multiple audiences and improve the firm’s search results on Google — leading to more leads!

Sharing
While it’s a great practice for a firm to share relevant articles and firm news, encouraging employees to do the same is extremely valuable. It will not only draw more attention to the piece that is shared, it will position the firm and the employee as a thought leader and someone who is “in the know” within their industry.

Interested in a social media game or a whole firm marketing game? Contact Dawn Wagenaar or 

Visit our Special Projects page. 

Six Reputation Builders

These items should be on your reputation bucket list to improve your visibility and credibility as a professional.

1. Write an article for your target audience.

2. Post and comment in select LinkedIn Groups.

3. Add client video testimonials to your website.

4. Win an award.

5. Take a leadership position on an association committee or board.

6. Speak as a subject matter expert in a webinar or to a live audience of prospects.

Need more tips? Call Ingenuity about creating a comprehensive reputation management strategy.