Category Archives: Rainmaking

Rainmaking – Consider Your Pricing

A few weeks ago, I posted here about putting my Jumpstart Your Rainmaking program on sale.  It was Black Friday and I wanted to participate!  (Of course, most of the time, we think of “on sale” as pertaining to tangible goods.)  How many of us who sell professional services would ever think to put them “on sale”?  It’s not something I had ever considered before.  But let’s imagine it for a minute…how the billboard ads might read….

Multi-state sales tax consulting services…”Call to sign up for a multi-state nexus review in the next 24 hours, and I’ll cut my fees by 25%”

IT support: “For December only, we’ll give you all the support for half the price!”

Realtor: “Today only – Offer on your house? We’ll cut the commission by 15%”

Not likely. Right? So, I’m not advocating that we’d ever really be in the business of putting our services “on sale”.

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Rainmaking – Making the Sales Process Easier

magic_money

Creating a sales pipeline can be fun! And easier than you may think.

My business contacts and blog readers have heard from me quite a bit lately because I’m actively promoting my quarterly webinar series – Jumpstart Your Rainmaking.  I’ve been sending out email blasts, writing more blogs about Rainmaking, and telling everyone I know about this.  Why?  Because I’d like to fill the virtual conference room.  As you know from reading my blogs, even though I’ve been building my business for years, the Rainmaking training part of my business is relatively new.  The multi-state part is over 15 years old.  And I’m trying to draw some attention to the new.

There’s a section in my Rainmaking training where I discuss sales mindset, and why sometimes it’s difficult to get into the sales mindset. That’s because cold-selling can be hard.  And honestly, selling the Rainmaking training has been harder than I thought too.  It’s different than selling multistate tax services. So, I thought it would be a good discussion.

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Rainmaking – It’s On Sale

Sale - the word of the white letters hanging on the ropes on a red background

Rainmaking – Black Friday Sale!

Happy Day After Thanksgiving to you and yours! This blog is posting on Black Friday.  Why do I have time to write a blog today?  Because I’m NOT one of the 137 million Americans who will begin their Christmas shopping – either in stores or online this weekend.  Yes, wholly 40% of Americans shop this weekend. But it’s not a tradition that I partake in.  For all of you that DO – you’ll certainly be in good company.  Enjoy and charge safely out there!

But the thought of Black Friday got me thinking about the concept of offering special deals in general.  Should service providers like CPAs, attorneys and other professionals ever offer specials?  I’m in the process of offering one right now.  Not in my multistate business, but on the Rainmaking side of the house.  And I’m still trying to decide if it’s a good idea.

Here’s the situation:

The multistate side of Miles Consulting Group has been my main source of revenue for almost 15 years.  Last year, in addition to multistate, I launched a speaking and educational program called Jumpstart Your Rainmaking. It’s all about helping professionals who need to sell their services.  I use my 20+ years of experience in selling consulting services to train colleagues on developing their sales mindset, identifying their perfect target client, selecting the best direct and indirect marketing strategies to get in front of that audience, putting together a viable written plan, and then keeping themselves accountable.  The program is delivered in a variety of ways – live speaking presentations, customized training for CPA firms, and a three part webinar series.  Each delivery format is a little different, and offers training to people in ways that make sense to them.

Right now, we are preparing to offer the three part webinar series – a three week commitment (an hour per week) in December.  Webinar participants will benefit from the items mentioned above, and will also learn how to develop their 2017 revenue generation plan.  Before January, our program participants will have an easy to follow, measurable plan which will help them generate revenue in their pipeline next year. Continue reading

Rainmaking – Kicking Off Another Webinar Series

dog in the rainAs we edge closer to the end of 2016, some of you may already be thinking about setting your goals for 2017. And, if you’re not, maybe you should be!  In that spirit, we are once again preparing to deliver the three part “Jumpstart Your Rainmaking” webinar series, beginning December 7th.  If you’re a follower of this blog and my communications, you know that we discuss topics designed for professionals who need to sell their services. It’s tough to go out there and sell yourself every day! Jumpstart focuses on how to develop the skills to keep your pipeline filled and how to generate revenue.  Prior webinar participants have included CPAs, bookkeepers, attorneys, financial planners and even virtual administrative assistants.  We are offering the webinar series now to help you put together a plan prior to year-end so that you’ll be ready to go with it come January 1.  Won’t that feel good?

Why Take This Class?

You may be thinking – “Wait, Monika specializes in multi-state tax consulting!”  That’s true.  And as part of my practice, several years ago, I had to develop a system that would work for me to build my business.  In the process of building that system over the years, I realized that it’s also teachable.  So, in addition to having passion for helping clients navigate state tax issues, I also have passion for helping people understand how to build businesses and generate revenue.  Why?  It’s nice to help others grow and share in their success.  I’ve had a lot of help over the years, and I want to pay it forward as well.

So, here are those rainmaking skills and the passion behind them, developed into a short, easy to manage Rainmaker webinar series for accounting and finance professionals.  Why now?  Because as I share with people what I’m doing and how – everyone tells me “Wow – this is really something people need!”  So, I’m making it happen, with you in mind! Continue reading

Rainmaking – Building the Pipeline for your Firm

Money _umbrellaMost of us don’t like to have to go out and sell – partly because it makes us feel like we are “asking” for money.  In my last Rainmaking blog, I asserted that it’s hard to ask for money and that theme continues to resonate.  But what if asking for money were easier?  What if it didn’t have to seem like asking for money?  What if asking your clients to assist them with their tax, accounting and finance needs just seemed like an ordinary part of the conversation?

As accountants, many of us want to be valued by our clients because we are technically competent and trusted business advisors.  But we don’t like to have to sell to them. And we certainly hate the thought of cold calling – it doesn’t really work in our businesses anyway!   As partners or owners of firms, we understand that we must bring in business to survive, but younger staff members may not truly get that message – either because they simply don’t like to sell or because they are not receiving guidance from their supervisors. And we can all feel a little bit guilty about that.  Yet, in order to build thriving CPA practices (or other professional services firms in general), we must be able to have the selling conversation with our staff so that they begin to add those skills. It begins largely with focusing on our existing clients and how we can provide additional value-added services to them. Here are some suggestions:

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Rainmaking- It’s Hard Asking People For Money

monika_strides_mcAsk people some of their least favorite things to do (at least professionally) – and you’re likely to get some familiar responses – public speaking, firing an employee (or a client), getting into confrontation, and selling!  And selling professional services often tops that list – even for salespeople.

When I was in high school, I worked at an ice cream shop.  What a great job.  I got to serve ice cream, make sundaes and banana splits, shakes, and ice cream cakes and pies.  I was on the giving end of happiness.  And people on the other side of the counter were happy to be there. I didn’t have to worry about selling much because people were already in the store to be happy!  But one day our store manager asked us all to attend a sales training seminar.  I was 18 and remember the pitch like it was yesterday – it was called SMASH – “Sell More and Sell High” –and they were talking about ice cream.  What did they want us to do as high schoolers pitching ice cream?  Turn a single scoop into a double, or a small shake into a large shake.  Ask customers if they wouldn’t rather have a waffle cone for a small extra charge.  Inquire about upcoming birthdays and sell a cake or pie.  So, even in the ice cream store, where happiness was already built in and people already were going to buy something, there was an opportunity to offer them more happiness, and more profit for the store. Maybe that’s when I truly became an entrepreneur!

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RAINMAKING- A MARKETER IN AN ACCOUNTANT’S BODY

microphone_loveHave you ever taken one of those personality tests like the Myers Briggs, or DISC that help to nicely or neatly (maybe?) put you in a perfect little box?  They can tell you whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, or feeling vs. thinking, or any number of other things about how you’ll get along with certain other personality types.  I have a love/hate relationship with those tests. Why?  Because I’m convinced that I’m pretty close to the middle on most of the categories, and so I see them as a challenge.  “Ha, you little test with 100 questions – you think you know me!  Have at it!”

For instance, most of the time, I really enjoy being with other people and I get energy from being in networking situations – an extrovert!  My husband will tell you that I love to accept a microphone and speak in front of a crowd – an extrovert!  These are good qualities to have if you want to talk about your business, and build a pipeline of referral sources and clients.  They need to you know you’re out there.  Yet, in the next breath, I could tell you that one of my favorite things is to hang out with a glass of wine and a book on a Friday night – an introvert?  And yes, after a speaking engagement, I’d love to just run a nice hot bath and soak alone and not do it again for a few days.  A long walk in the park with my dog is my idea of a good time too.  Introvert?

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Rainmaking – Practice What You Preach!

A colleaguPeace of Minde asked me the other day how my Rainmaking program was going.  And the answer was, unfortunately, “It’s going well, but not taking off as quickly as I’d like it to.” After thinking about it, I got mad at myself and decided to shift the conversation to “It’s going amazingly well – thanks for asking!”  The conversation needed to be reframed in order to honor the dream and the encouragement I’ve received from my friends and colleagues. So, thank you!

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you’ll know that most of the time it centers on practical tips and articles about multistate tax issues – my primary business.  But, if you search “Rainmaking” within the blog, you’ll also know that I’m following a long-time dream to share the experiences and knowledge of building a successful consulting practice with fellow CPAs and other service providers who want to fill their pipelines.  So, for several months at the beginning of the year, we featured weekly or bi-weekly posts on the Rainmaking topic as well.  And then…it became much more sporadic.  Ultimately, it’s been quite a while since we’ve dedicated a post to Rainmaking.  So, this blog is a refresh!

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Rainmaking – The Value of the Next Client

Customer Lifetime Value 3d render concept with blue and white arrows flying over a white background.

What’s your CLV?.

If you’ve been following my Rainmaking blogs, you know that much of what we talk about is developing relationships that ultimately lead to becoming a trusted business advisor to both potential clients and referral partners.  Why is it so important to engage in Rainmaking and pick up that next client?  Well, aside from the obvious reason – that it leads to cash today, it will also likely lead to cash tomorrow.  Once we build a relationship with a customer and provide good service, they will generally become a repeat customer and/or a good source of future referrals.

Customer Lifetime Value

This is where the concept of “Customer Lifetime Value” or “CLV” comes in. According to Wikipedia, in the technical sense, CLV is a prediction of the “net profit attributable to the entire future relationship with a customer”.  The term is used mostly in marketing to determine how much to spend in acquiring a client and whether that money is well spent.  For instance, if, by using a formula to calculate the CLV of an average customer, we determine it’s $10,000, and the marketing costs associated with securing or engaging the client are $5,000, then the customer is judged to be profitable.  (Note that the $5,000 of cash outlay is also known as “cost of customer acquisition”.)  Continue reading

Rainmaking – The Video Experiment (Part 2)

Craiova 21 iunie 14

It’s a nice day for a little rain!

Last week, I posted here about using video in my marketing efforts around my upcoming webinar series, “Jumpstart Your Rainmaking”.  If you’ve been following me, you know that I’m a seasoned tax professional, and have spent the better part of 20+ years helping clients with their multi-state tax needs.  My firm specializes in helping middle market companies navigate the complex sales tax and income/franchise tax issues that they’ll encounter as they do business in multiple states.

Recently, I’ve been focusing my outbound marketing efforts not so much on my multi-state business, but on a new venture – my training programs for professionals selling services – the “Rainmaking” series of products.  My biggest challenge right now is that I don’t want to confuse the message.  I’m still, very much, doing multi-state tax consulting.  But this newer part of my practice needs some attention and love so that people understand what I’m doing.

So, I decided to roll out a video campaign this week around the Jumpstart Your Rainmaking – wherein every day I rolled out a solid Rainmaking tip, tied to a weather forecast, with the ultimate goal of asking you to sign up for my webinar series beginning May 4th.   The videos are available on my YouTube channel here.  But I also sent them out via my Facebook page, Linked In and Twitter.  Next week, I’m going to try “Boosting” them on Facebook.

How Did We Do?

The truth is, I’m not sure yet.  I haven’t had 10,000 people sign up for my webinar yet (but that wasn’t the goal anyway).  I haven’t had a bunch of “likes” on Facebook from my friends. (I thought more people would weigh in and I’m not sure why they didn’t.)   I tried to post the daily videos to a Linked In group that I’m a member of for “Social CPAs” and it bounced me as spam.  So, overall, not great?

But wait, it HAS opened several new conversations.  I have had a few registrations.  And there have been many views on the daily videos on my Linked In updates.  So, I’m getting some traction.  What’s that statistic about being seen 7 times before someone even knows who you are?  I know that I got in front of a lot of people and my name is out there!

The Campaign

I’m proud that I took the chance and put myself out there with a bit of a corny campaign.  As CPAs, sometimes we take ourselves too seriously because we want others to take us seriously.  My professional work around multi-state is serious.  My clients want the seriously right answer – and I’m going to get it for them.  The marketing side of the equation is much less objective, and much less serious.  Certainly, this campaign showed a less serious side of me.  I don’t want you to think that marketing your CPA practice isn’t serious too.  It is, but is doesn’t need to showcase your most serious side.  You can have a little fun with it.

I’ll keep you posted on the results from the video campaign.  In the meantime, if you like what I’m talking about and think your practice could benefit from some of my tips around building your practice, I invite you to check out my Jumpstart Your Rainmaking webinar.  Early bird registration (at $249) is open through April 27th.  Then the price jumps to $299.  The truth is – the rain doesn’t start until you put some effort into it.  A bit of a “raindance”, if you will.  I’ve been dancing with this during the week.  And, wait, as I look out my window….a bit of rain!  Coincidence?  I don’t think so!