Autonomy as a Motivator in the Sales Process

If you’ve ever seen this popular TED talk by Daniel Pink on “The Puzzle of Motivation”, you know that autonomy is one of the most powerful intrinsic motivators for employees. Autonomy is our desire to have control over our work and choice in how we use our time.

Firms can support an environment of autonomy by giving people real control over various aspects of their work, including business development activities. When done correctly, firms can employ autonomy to motivate doer-sellers to participate in the business development process.

Here’s how to do autonomy the right way:

Communicate Goals & Vision

It’s not enough to tell your people to sell or teach them how to do it (although these are important); they need to know WHY their assigned tasks or individual goals have value to the firm. Make sure employees at all levels of your firm understand the vision and how their piece contributes to the big picture.

Provide Structure, Direction & Support

It’s important to find a balance between autonomy and structure. Before doer-sellers feel comfortable moving forward in the sales process on their own, they need to understand the rules of engagement. At a minimum, make sure your firm has the following in place:

  • Defined Sales Process: Give your doer-sellers a clear path to follow that outlines key steps and responsibilities. A shared understanding of key terms and processes helps to ensure everyone is speaking the same language and working from the same playbook.
  • Training: Incorporate some level of business development training into your firm. This can include tactical, skills-based training (such as how to ask for referrals or CRM training) as well as more general topics (such as understanding the firm’s target industries, service capabilities, etc.)
  • Tools & Resources: Give your doer-sellers the training and technology they’ll need to be successful in the sales process. Make sure employees know where to go when they have questions.

Let Them Fly!

If your doer-sellers have a firm understanding of why business development is important and the guidelines within which to operate, it’s time to get out of the way and let them do their thing!

Map out your current process and identify bottlenecks or unnecessary steps that can be eliminated or streamlined through the use of technology. (Remember, an autonomous environment is more focused on outcomes rather than the steps people take to get there.)

Here a few examples of areas within the BD process you may consider reworking:

  • Do you require a minimum number of hours per year/quarter/month to be spent on BD activities?
  • Do doer-sellers (specifically at the non-partner level) have to seek expense approval before taking a contact out for lunch?
  • Do you block access to social media sites?
  • Are doer-sellers dependent on the marketing team to provide a prospect with general information about the firm, its services, or its industry practice areas? (If your doer-sellers are frequently asking your marketing team for this information, it may be time to consider giving them access to the materials they need with a tool like POUNCE.)

Challenge yourself and firm leadership to find ways to reduce rules, incorporate flexibility and create decision-making opportunities.

Summary

Autonomy is a powerful motivator because it’s really about empowerment and trust. Empowered employees feel more valued and more satisfied, which increases their productivity and engagement. Trust your team to determine how to approach each sales opportunity and you’ll reap the rewards of an engaged, high-performing team.

Also remember: firms don’t have to change overnight. Start with small increases in flexibility and choice and implement changes gradually.

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Reasons to Meet with Clients and Prospects in Person (Yes, Even During Busy Season)

As accounting firms across the county enter into yet another busy season, everyone is looking for ways to be as efficient as possible. This means looking for ways to execute tasks quicker, cutting out “non-essential” activities, and focusing on immediate needs only (i.e., getting work out the door).

However, this time of year provides incredible opportunity to strengthen relationships with clients and develop new relationships with prospects.

So even during your busiest times, why should you meet with clients or prospects in person?

1. It shows personal commitment.

It’s easy NOT to go the extra mile when you’re busy. Don’t lose your prospects or clients to other service providers because they feel overlooked by you. If you show a sincere interest in them and their business during your busiest time, that’s something a client makes a note of.

2. It builds trust.

The foundation of every good relationship is trust. When you trust, you form an influential bond that helps you work and communicate more effectively. Being able to look someone in the eye and shake their hand (which you can’t do over email) helps to create an innate sense of trust.

3. It eliminates distractions.

It is easy to become sidetracked. Multi-tasking parties can be checking email or addressing another matter altogether. However, meeting in-person forces all parties to be more present and engaged in the discussion or challenge at hand.

4. It gives you an opportunity to gather important information you won’t get over the phone or via email.

Meeting with clients in person gives you the opportunity to see the reaction, not just hear it or read it. This also enables you to make adjustments in your message or delivery as you go based on the non-verbal feedback you’re receiving from your client.

Additionally, people have a tendency to speak more freely in-person that they would via other communication methods. This means your client may mention something to you in passing that otherwise wouldn’t have been brought up over the phone or via email.

BONUS POINTS: Visit clients and prospects at their location.

When you visit a client in their own space, you can learn so much about the organization AND your contact on a personal level. For example, are there any recent awards or accolades displayed? Are most employees in the office or does it seem quiet, indicating they work remotely? Does their space seem more modern or traditional? The environment can give you insights that may affect your choice of sales tactics or client service approach.

Conclusion

Technology makes it easier than ever to stay in touch with clients and prospects and perform work remotely. While there are certainly times where it makes sense to meet virtually, clients and prospects still value in-person meetings.

New Year, New POUNCE Features: What’s New in POUNCE V2?

We are excited to announce that a new and improved version of POUNCE is now available to use to maintain professional bios, find firm marketing materials, create marketing packets for clients or prospects, and more. We’ve added enhanced features to make POUNCE even more useful in your firm’s business development efforts.

So what’s new in V2?

User Interface Refresh

We’ve got a fresh new look!

Edit, Refresh or Copy Packets

Did you create a packet but forgot to include our About the Firm one-pager?

Instead of starting a new packet, simply Edit the packet you already created and add in any forgotten materials.

Did you create a packet that included your resume, which has since been updated?

You can just click the Refresh option—your packet will include all of the same marketing materials and resumes, but will capture the updated versions.

Did you create a packet that you really like and now want to use it again for another prospect?

Use the Copy packet option to duplicate the original packet and then just change the prospect’s name on the cover.

Notifications

Curious to know when someone includes your professional resume in a packet? Want to know when someone makes changes to your profile?

Users can now set and manage their own Notifications to receive emails when others use or edit your user profile.

URLs for Articles and Presentations

Have you authored articles or delivered presentations that are posted online?

You can now include links on the Articles Written and Presentations Given tabs of your User Profile.

Designate Items that Should/Shouldn’t Appear on Resumes

Do you have a laundry-list of professional and community involvement going back decades?

While this information is valuable and we want to keep track of it, you may want to limit your resume to only show the most recent or relevant items.

For certain sections in POUNCE (such as Professional Affiliations or Community Involvement), you can now de-select any older items that you do not want to appear on your resume (without having to delete information).

Hyperlinks

Users can now include hyperlinks in the body of any open paragraph text field.

Social Profiles

We’ve added a Social Profiles tab to your User Profile. Here users can add links to their LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

 

If you have questions about these new features or are interested in a demo of the updated POUNCE system, contact us.

ICYMI: Top Posts of 2018

As we mark another year down in the books, here’s a look back at some of our most read articles from 2018:

1. Building a Business Development Culture, Summed Up with this Playlist

I was recently re-reading this article that our very own Marketing Director Rachael Higginbotham wrote on building a business development culture and decided it is a story worth re-telling in song form. Enjoy! [READ MORE]

2. Not-So-Busy Season

Accounting firms are famous for “busy season.” Although workloads have begun to even out year-round in some practice areas, late January through the end of April is still the most demanding period of time for accounting firms. Because of the high focus on audit and tax deadlines, it’s oftentimes also the slowest period for accounting marketers.

With less access to client service professionals, how can marketers use their “not-so-busy” season most productively? In a word: prepare. [READ MORE]

3. 7 Tips for a Successful Prospect Meeting

So, you’ve scheduled an initial meeting with one of your target prospects. Great! This first discussion is crucial for relationship development and ultimately winning business. Here’s how not to blow it. [READ MORE]

4. We can do WHAT?!? Educating Employees on Service Offerings

In our firm, one of the challenges we hear most often is that our professionals can’t keep track of everything we can do. They are continually being reminded to look for additional opportunities to help their existing clients, but how can you identify areas in which your firm can help if you’re not aware of all of your service offerings? OR, even if you know what services your firm can provide, how do you know who to talk to?

Team members can’t be expected to have intelligent, meaningful discussions with clients to identify new opportunities without the right tools and knowledge of the firm’s services. So how can marketers help bridge this gap? [READ MORE]

5. 3 Surprising Ways POUNCE Helps Our Team

You already know POUNCE is a professional resume and marketing material management tool that can enable your team members to easily find and distribute up-to-date collateral to prospects.

But after using POUNCE in our own firm, we’ve discovered a few other ways the system makes our lives easier. Here are three surprising ways POUNCE has helped the P&N marketing team. [READ MORE]

‘Twas the Friday Before Christmas

‘Twas the Friday before Christmas, and all down the hall

Not a CPA was stirring, all had slowed to a crawl.

No looming proposal deadlines or webinars to plan

Just a yearend pipeline report for our CEO Dan.

 

Then from my email there came a familiar ping,

I open my inbox to see that new thing.

A partner wants info on our cybersecurity services

To send to a client for business development purposes.

 

NEED THIS IMMEDIATELY the subject line read

I could send him our one-pager, but I call him instead:

“Did you know that POUNCE has all the info you need?

Marketing materials at your fingertips will help you succeed.”

 

“There are summaries on services clients can procure

Including collateral on keeping their networks secure.

There’s a mobile app too, for access on-the-go

All the things we need to help our firm grow.”

 

“What a wonderful tool!” my partner announced

“I love that our firm has access to POUNCE!”

Contact us if POUNCE could help your firm too

Happy Holidays to you and your marketing crew!

Productivity as a Competitive Advantage in Business Development

In professional services marketing, success often depends on our ability to get things done with limited resources. When a firm increases its productivity, it is able to produce more with the same amount of resources (work and time), which can lead to several important benefits.

In today’s world, productivity often depends on implementing the right technologies for your firm. In business development, this means identifying the manual aspects of your marketing and sales processes and selecting tools to help you streamline and automate those areas to increase your business development productivity.

When you implement tools that reduce administrative time, amazing things can happen. Let’s look at two scenarios:

Scenario 1: You spend less time on Task A.

Productivity - Spend Less Time

In this scenario, you are able to reduce the amount of administrative time spent on Task A which means the task gets done faster and you are able to move on to Tasks B, C, and so on.

Increasing productivity enables a firm to provide more “product” (in our world, hours) without increasing costs or other inputs. The ultimate result in this case is INCREASED PROFITABILITY.

Imagine the impact on your growth with tools in place to enable a doer-seller to deliver customized marketing collateral to 5 prospects in the same time it previously took them to send information to 1!

Scenario 2: You spend the same amount of time on Task A but with a greater focus on strategy.

Productivity - Focus on Quality

In this scenario, you are able to reduce the amount of administrative time spent on Task A, which frees up time for you be more strategic and work on the more complex (less clerical) aspects of the task.

You may spend the same amount of total time on Task A, but because more of this time is spent focused on strategy, the end result is INCREASED QUALITY (i.e., a better product). And in the world of professional services, this means better client experiences (which I dare say will ultimately also lead to increased profitability).

Imagine if your firm had tools in place to enable a doer-seller to take the same amount of time previously wasted searching for marketing collateral and use that time to focus on high-value relationship-building activities for a prospect!

Summary

Productivity and time management are ALWAYS topics of discussion within our firms, especially as it relates to business development. Finding ways to reduce administrative time in our marketing and sales processes helps to increase the productivity of both your doer-sellers and your marketing teams and gives your firm an advantage in the competitive professional services marketplace.

Check out these related articles:

Article Round-Up: New Ideas to Pounce On

Looking for inspiration and ideas for firm growth? Here’s a roundup of some of the best pieces of content we’ve come across recently.

1. Your #1 Competitive Differentiator

https://jbarrows.com/blog/your-1-competitive-differentiator/

There are a TON of articles out there on uncovering and promoting your organization’s differentiator, but this article offers an interesting take that really resonated with me.

According to John Barrows, “there is one thing [your competitors] can’t say they have, which is ultimately the #1 competitive differentiator for all of us. It’s our customers and the results we drive for them.”

Our differentiator is not our resources, thought-leadership or service quality (which are all top-notch, of course); it’s our clients and the value we bring to them. This makes me think about how our marketing can do a better job of sharing our clients’ stories in an impactful way.

2. 5 Articles on How to Ask Better Questions

https://threesixtyeight.com/insights/how-to-ask-better-questions/

Yes, I’m including an article round-up within my own article round-up—it’s like article round-up Inception. In all seriousness, asking the right questions in the right way is critical to success within our teams, with our clients, and within the sales process. Kenny Nguyen, CEO and co-founder of ThreeSixtyEight, shares a few of his favorite articles on how to ask better questions.

3. 11 More Audience Engagement Tools You Need to Know

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/blog/audience-engagement-tools-2016-ds00/

At P&N, in-person events are a significant and critical piece of our marketing strategy. Our goal with these events is not just to draw attendance but to meaningfully engage with clients and prospects.

From voting and polling to presentation-sharing and feedback-gathering, there are low- or no-cost apps available to help take our events to the next level of audience engagement.