Finding Leads for Your Accounting Firm

Gusto Editors

Do you know how to find new leads for your accounting firm? 

Leads play a critical role in the success and expansion of your firm, and you need to learn everything you can about using your firm’s resources to contact overlooked leads and generate new ones. 

Fortunately, Gusto, along with our partners at CPA Academy, presented an informative webinar about finding leads and using marketing tactics for generating leads. 

Our webinar “Practical Guide to Lead Generation for Accountants” featured marketing expert Matt Wilkinson, the founder and CEO of Bizink, and you can watch the full webinar here

In this article, we’ll share invaluable information from Matt Wilkinson’s presentation, including how to find new leads from your firm’s contacts and resources, how to calculate the number of leads you need every month, and why your firm should help small businesses through financially tumultuous times. 

Finding leads through your current contacts and resources

Generating leads is a critical part of finding new business for your firm. Unlike other products and services, selling accounting services is relation-based and not instant. Business owners don’t scroll through shopping websites to purchase accounting services—they take the time to research and choose the firm that’s right for them. A critical part of winning their business is through contacting them and initiating follow-up conversations. 

When expanding your firm, you need to use your contacts and resources to find potential customers. You’re far more likely to gain a client by following up with someone you’ve conversed with previously: 

“I believe most firms have a bunch of potential new business right under their noses. The first thing to remember here is that anyone you’ve already been in contact with is way more likely to become a client than a fresh lead. … People you’ve already talked to are way more likely to convert than complete strangers.”

Matt Wilkinson

There can be many potential reasons why your initial contact with a potential client didn’t lead to new business. Potential clients are not likely to purchase your services from a single conversation, so you need to re-engage each contact and find the right timing for convincing them to become a client: 

“Think back over meetings you’ve had that didn’t turn into client engagements—can you reach back out to those people again? … We have sales meetings … [and] most of them don’t convert, but we will go back and talk to those people at another time because timing is a real key thing in sales and marketing. The time might not have been right then, but perhaps the time is right now.”

Matt Wilkinson

Just because you didn’t initially win over a client from a single conversation doesn’t mean that they won’t need your services in the future. Consider reaching out regularly until you find the right timing and win over their business. 

Young female accountant following up with a potential client via telephone.

In addition to reaching out to businesses you’ve already had contact with, you can also utilize your firm’s other resources to find potential customers who are already aware of your services: 

“What business cards do you have from networking events you’ve attended? … Perhaps you’ve got telephone or web inquiries that have not been followed up.”

Matt Wilkinson

You need to follow up on all potential leads, which means contacting potential clients from inquiries and previous interactions. You might have met a potential client that you haven’t had a formal meeting with, but you can still contact them and schedule a time to discuss your services. Your firm also likely generates potential clients through phone and website inquiries, so you need to follow up on all inquiries to gain new clients. 

Finding new leads may seem like a daunting task, but you can pool your firm’s resources and re-establish contact with potential customers to increase your likelihood of winning over new clients.

The lead generation formula 

When your accounting firm searches for new clients, you can use the lead generation formula to establish goals and formulate a plan to reach those goals. The first step you need to take is to determine how many new quality clients you want to gain per month:

“How many new clients would you like every month? Now, I’m talking … ideal clients. … In my experience, [for] most firms, it’s not a huge amount. It’s maybe one or two quality clients a month would be ideal because it takes time to onboard those people and do it all properly.”

Matt Wilkinson

After establishing your monthly client goals, you need to determine your firm’s sales conversion rate. Before winning over a new client, you’ll likely have a meeting with them. You need to note the statistical likelihood of converting them into a client during your meeting. Matt noted that the average firm’s statistical probability of winning over a client during a meeting is high:

“For most firms, it’s going to be 50% or above. If you can get someone into a meeting, they’re usually quite far down the buying journey. So if we just use 50% for this example, that tells us that we’re going to have to do four meetings to get our two clients. … It’s very hard to say, ‘I’m just going to get two new clients,’ but … meetings [are] a thing that we can do, so we can start putting tactics towards that.”

Matt Wilkinson

After your firm establishes client goals and determines its sales conversion rate, you can easily calculate how many meetings you’ll need to schedule to reach your goals. Focus on scheduling the number of meetings you’ll need to win over your desired number of new clients. 

Once you determine how many meetings you need to schedule, you can use your marketing conversion rate to determine the total number of leads you’ll need to reach your meeting goals: 

“We looked at our sales conversion of meetings to leads, [and] now we’re looking at our marketing conversion of leads to meetings. … We target very simple numbers every month, and we know that if we get a certain amount of leads, they’ll pull through to a certain amount of meetings, and we’ll get the number of clients that we want every month.”

Matt Wilkinson

You need to know your firm’s marketing conversion rate to determine the number of leads you’ll need to reach your client goals. If your firm has a marketing conversion rate of 10%, you’ll need 40 leads in order to schedule four meetings. If your sales conversion rate is 50%, you’ll earn an average of two new clients from those meetings. 

Establishing your goals and calculating the number of leads you’ll need to reach your goals is a critical step in gaining new clients. Once you’ve calculated your sales conversion rate and marketing conversion rate, you’ll know how many leads you’ll need to win over your desired number of new clients. 

Helping businesses through difficult times

Although generating new leads and converting clients is critical for your firm, atypical circumstances may force you to shift your marketing strategy. When Matt hosted this webinar, the world was facing the COVID-19 lockdown, which impacted businesses dramatically. The virus forced numerous businesses to shut down, and accountants had to shift how they marketed their services. 

It presented a silver-lining opportunity for accountants to step back and devise marketing strategies so they would be better prepared to weather a financial crisis:

“It’s a very difficult time to do any form of marketing. … Accountants understand … businesses have got such obvious challenges and pain points. … So there’s a bit of a marketing lesson there, and it’s about continuing to speak to those pain points.”

Matt Wilkinson

During difficult times, accountants can identify businesses’ pain points and difficulties. You can then use pain points to address businesses’ needs and eventually market-specific services to address those pain points. 

Accountant sitting at her desk and advising a male small business owner.

Your firm can also benefit during a crisis by assisting small businesses to generate future leads: 

“It’s about selling without selling … It’s about helping. It’s about keeping marketing personal and really helping business owners with the challenges they are facing. And I believe in terms of lead generation, you might not be closing those deals now, but it’s about building a pipeline of leads for when [the] crisis is over.”

Matt Wilkinson

When facing a financial crisis, your firm should primarily aim to help small businesses get through the economic fallout. You can then market to those businesses after the crisis concludes. Your firm can offer businesses free resources for addressing specific pain points, such as helpful content on your website, informative brochures, or a free consultation. You can assist small businesses through a crisis while also generating leads that you can contact in the future.

Learn more about finding leads for your accounting firm

Leads are the lifeblood of your accounting firm, and you likely already have leads that you haven’t yet utilized. You can follow up with potential clients you’ve communicated with previously and contact people who have made phone or web inquiries into your firm. Once you’ve pursued potential clients who you’ve already conversed with previously, you can use the lead generation formula to determine the number of new leads you’ll need to reach your firm’s new client goals. You can also help businesses through economic hardships to generate future leads. 

Understanding the lead generation formula is critical for your firm, and you also need to know different marketing tactics to increase your marketing conversion rate and gain more leads. Fortunately, Part Two of this webinar article series will inform you about marketing tactics for generating new leads. Additionally, you can watch the full webinar here to learn even more about leads and marketing strategies. 

If you need assistance in growing your firm, consider joining Gusto. Gusto is a people-based platform that provides businesses with payroll and benefits. We also offer integrated health insurance and 401ks, and we also automatically file and send payroll taxes for businesses up to 100 employees. With Gusto, you’ll be able to offer your clients new insights while also expanding your business.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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