Converting Prospects to Wins: Getting a Home Run
By Howard Dorman, CPA, WeiserMazars LLP –
September 15, 2016
Baseball fans know that while players want to get as
many at-bats as possible, at the end of day, they are
not rewarded for how many at-bats they had in a day,
in a year, or even in a career.
Players are rewarded for their
number of hits and home runs. That
is what determines if they get into
the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Turning a prospect into a client is like
hitting a home run. Hopefully, after you
read this article, not only will you get
the at-bats but you will hit the ball out
of the park.
As an accountant, the first step
should be pretty easy: understanding the
importance of evaluating your efforts
in converting prospects to clients. This
conversion rate is a simple calculation.
There are only two numbers you should
focus on: the number of qualified
prospects and the number of new clients
attained as a result of this process.
Simple, right? Similar to setting a fitness
goal, you will want to develop some
initial steps with a sense of structure
defined by benchmarks to keep you
Webster defines a prospect as a
possibility or a likelihood of some
future event occurring. In this case,
it can be defined as the likelihood of
a company expressing interest in you
becoming its new accountant or service
provider. More specifically, a prospect
is a potential customer qualified
on the basis of his or her buying
authority, financial capacity and, most
importantly, willingness to secure your
The first challenge in the process
is qualifying the prospect. Are they a
desirable client? Do they fit the mold of
your typical client profile? Do you have
the expertise to address their specific
needs? These are some of the questions
you should ask yourself when qualifying
a prospect. Let’s say that you have been
referred to a company by one of your
centers of influence (a banker, a lawyer
or even a client). The next step should
be to find out as much information
about the company as possible. See if
anyone else in your office has had any
interactions with this company or can
offer some industry insight. You can
search the internet or obtain pertinent
information from various business
publications and organizations such as
Dun & Bradstreet. First Research is a
helpful database for prospect-related
industry specifics. Another benefit of
researching the company is that you
can obtain some great talking points for
when you are face to face.
Congratulations! You've made it
to the fun part. It's time to set up a meeting with your prospect. You now
have factors working in your favor: a
warm lead and a better understanding
of the industry the prospect operates
in. You are getting closer to having a
qualified prospect. Now is the time
to bring in an appropriate partner or
a staff member with industry-specific
experience. It is good practice to bring
someone else with you to visit the
prospect, to show that you can provide
a qualified team.
Always be prepared. Before going
to the prospect meeting, it's helpful
to discuss the details of the meeting
and desired objectives with your team.
What issues do you want to address?
Why is the prospect seeking a new
firm? Formulate solid questions that
will open the door for the prospect
to express desired goals and reasons
for dissatisfaction in the past. This is
where you need to use good listening
skills. In real estate, they say the key is
location, location, location. In winning
new clients, it’s listen, listen, listen. Is
it expertise within the industry that the
prospect wants? Is cost a major factor?
This is a critical part of the process. If
you are talking, you are not listening.
You may be missing the reason that you
were asked to visit. If you take the time
to listen to the prospect’s concerns, you
will be able to respond to them.
Set goals for yourself by creating
benchmarks regarding prospects
and client wins. You can never be
too prepared. And remember to
carefully listen so that you have a
clear understanding of what the
prospect actually wants. If you come
in with preconceptions or make quick
judgments, you could miss the mark.
Howard P. Dorman
Howard P. Dorman, CPA, is a partner with WeiserMazars LLP, servicing privately held companies and service firms. He is a member of the New Jersey Society of CPAs.
This article appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.