3 Steps to Successful Cross-Servicing
by Rachel Anevski, MAOB, PHR, SHRM-CP, CEO, Matters of Management –
August 21, 2019
Cross-selling — or the act of marketing existing services to your current client list — has a word in it that many accountants don’t necessarily love: selling. For this article and perhaps your mindset, let’s change the word “selling” to “servicing.” Therefore, cross-servicing is the act in which additional solutions are provided to current clients’ needs. In order to cross-service successfully, three major components need to be present: product promotion, client awareness and client engagement.
1. Product Promotion
Product promotion occurs in several ways, typically starting with a handshake introduction and promotional materials. Best practices for product promotion are websites, e-correspondence, social media and hosted events. Standard product offerings tend to be bookkeeping, compliance audits and tax services, however, many firms have expanded upon these and branched out via niche specialties and expertise.
Already known for their core services, many have become accustomed to simply introducing themselves as a CPA. Instead of stating the obvious, try this: “I’m a CPA, and at our firm, we help clients retain more of their earnings. Our clients love us for traditional services, and also leverage us for (insert niche or specialty here).”
Some traditional and not-so-traditional ways to cross-service include the following:
- An old-school brochure with services listed can be a valuable leave-behind.
- Proposals are a great way to up-service products by demonstrating other services the client could benefit from.
- To combat email fatigue, try going back to basics and print a postcard with offerings.
- When using snail mail, employ a targeted approach by choosing specific areas clients would gain from and deliver a message on that. Not everyone needs a cost-segregation study or a certified construction accountant, so be specific.
- Follow up any mailing with a live call.
- Leverage promotion and retention tactics on the firm’s website. Elaborate on the firm’s products as well as loop-in key leaders that service them.
2. Client Awareness
Client awareness is imperative to identify cross-servicing opportunities. When onboarding, take inventory of items the client currently requires and audit them for future needs. Set reminders to follow up with specific information. Determine the appropriate contact(s) at the company for the various services provided by the firm. Be sure to know each client well in order to identify opportunities to cross-service them. Get personal; it makes all the difference in professional services grandeur.
3. Client Engagement
Client engagement is the number-one driver for cross-servicing. It’s a formula.
Product promotion + client awareness (client engagement) = cross-servicing $$$.
Be sure to engage with new clients soon after sending them a welcome package or letter. Clients should be receiving at minimum bi-monthly e-newsletters from the firm where they can receive up-to-date information, accounting-specific or firm news and tips. Newsletters can be housed on the firm’s website for future reference. Many even pinpoint the reader’s interests, which is helpful for follow up later.
Posting on social media engages clients in a quick and simple way. Clients and members of their organization can follow the firm’s business page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Linkedin. Clients can engage and comment on posts or leverage something they see in a visual the next time they meet with the firm. And finally, rather than live behind a desk all the time, CPAs should host events to promote products, distribute brochures, give away an item, shake a hand, or allow clients to come and relax while engaging in meaningful relationship building.
This all might sound obvious and easy, but it does take effort. Establish a program, deliver your message, know your client and interact with them frequently, at best more than once during tax season and for a quick pre-planning meeting. Set a plan and employ it. Remember, it is more lucrative to cross-service an existing client than to acquire a new one.
This article appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.