Sales Shouldn’t Be Scary
No, I haven’t lost my mind, I truly believe that all accountants should love sales. It is well known that the general sentiment in our industry is that business development is terrifying and not what we were trained to do as accountants. In reality, the fundamentals of sales are actually what accountants do best – number manipulation. Once the framework of sales is broken down to a numbers game, it becomes fun, exciting and dare I say, EASY!
I still remember when it all clicked for me. Years ago, I made the transition from working in public accounting to a sales position in software sales and thought to myself, “What in the world have I done?” Secretly, sales scared me just a little too, but once someone explained a sales funnel to me, I had an “AHA” moment. Sales is just a numbers game and that is something I could behind!
What is a sales funnel you ask? It’s simple, your sales funnel gives you the framework to take the steps you need to obtain new business. At a very basic level, your sales funnel looks like this:
Now this image may not look mind-blowing, but the key is understanding what happens at each stage and being intentional with your processes in order to see results. Let’s break it down by section:
Potential Clients: The top of the funnel is the biggest section of the sales funnel because that is where you should have the most people/prospects in your funnel. Identifying potential new clients is the first and most important step to gaining new business. Some areas to consider in this stage of the sales funnel are:
- Do you have a list of potential clients that you are currently targeting? Are you being intentional with this step in the process?
- How are you identifying potential clients? What criteria are you using and where do you find them?
- Do you have a process in place to consistently add to this list to ensure a continuous process?
Meetings/Proposals: Once you have identified these potential new clients, you have to get in front of them to pitch your services. This section of the funnel is not quite as big as the top because not everyone you identify as a potential client will take a meeting with you, but that is the next step to landing new business. Some areas to consider in this stage of the sales funnel are:
- What steps are you taking to get a proposal meeting with your potential clients?
- Historically, how many of your potential clients have you been able to get in front of with a pitch or a proposal?
- What steps are you taking prepare for a proposal meeting that would give you a better chance of closing the client?
New Client: Congratulations! The bottom section of the funnel is all of your new business. This is the smallest section of your funnel because just like moving from “Potential Clients” to “Meetings/Proposals,” a number of your prospects will fall out of the funnel leaving you with the right clients to grow your practice. Some areas to consider in this stage of the sales funnel are:
- How many of your proposal meetings actually result in a new client?
- What objections are you facing from your potential clients?
As you can see, it all starts with intentionally finding potential new clients. When you load your sales funnel with potential clients, statistically, you will end up with new clients. This is all just simple math! Once you start to work with your sales funnel, you can easily put numbers behind each stage in the process and set the targets that you need in order to achieve your business development goals. If you want to grow, add more to the top of your funnel. It’s that easy.
That is just the beginning of the mathematical fun, though. Your funnel should be constantly evaluated for ways to improve your efficiency at each stage. Where can you find more prospects that are likely to take a meeting? How can you win more clients after presenting a proposal? How can you improve your pitch to land more proposal meetings? The possibilities are endless once you put the right framework in place and improve your processes behind each step. All of this is an accountant’s dream – number manipulation and efficiency!
Whether you are just starting a business development initiative in your career or you have been working somewhat aimlessly towards business development goals for years, it is always important to take a step back and look at the basics. While there are a lot of factors that can impact the efficiency of your sales funnel, the bottom line is that if you put this framework in place and start to build a sales funnel, you will see success!
If business development and sales are goals for you, we would love to help and dive deeper into these processes. The Sales Seed provides a comprehensive business development program that will skyrocket your growth.