Business Development: Tech Makes Cross-Selling Easier

Written by: Simon Leek, CEO, FibreCRM

Cross-selling is an instrumental growth strategy for CPA firms. Whether you want to increase sales of one particular service or ensure clients are aware of the other services the firm offers, it all boils down to smart strategies and supporting technology. One without the other can mean disaster.

For example, imagine a managing partner saying, “We plan to grow our payroll service by 7% per year, which will add around $50,000 of additional revenue to our payroll income.”

It is a smart strategy, which in itself, is good, but the next question is what tactics have to be employed to achieve this goal? And what technology is needed to support these tactics? Without this consideration, it is just a finger in the air, with maybe some ad-hoc business development activities or hopeful referrals.

So how does a firm go about building an effective campaign to meet this goal and what supporting technology is needed? It helps to break it down as follows.

Know What Your Client Buy from You and What They Don’t

All too often, firms struggle to easily answer a question like, “How many clients do you have?” and “How many do not buy your payroll service?” Even successful firms that onboard new clients everyday struggle. The answer may only be correct today. Tomorrow, it is out of date.

It is a look at this gap analysis (sample below) that provides you insights into the potential within your client base:

Identify the Opportunity Value Across Your Existing Client Base

This is a simple formula: multiply the number of clients not buying the service by the average price of the service. More importantly, take the growth figure you want and divide it by the average price to give you the number of new clients for that service.

Let’s say you have 2,000 active clients. Of that, 500 use your payroll service, meaning 1,500 do not. If your average fee per client for payroll is $500, then your opportunity value is $750,000. With that data, you can now answer the managing partner’s question: the firm would need around 100 new payroll clients to hit the desired goal.

Now, You Have to Sell the Identified Service

This is where technology comes into play, and that lack of technology is often the culprit for many failed growth plans. Why? Because all this valuable information and knowledge on what clients are buying is held in a database somewhere in a firm, most often in practice management or time and billing.

The challenge is getting that data into a place where it can be analyzed and used effectively. Practice management systems often know what a client is buying, but there is no data held on which clients are not buying a particular service. The best-case scenario is a report that provides a list. But then, what can you do with that list? Oh, and it is also out of date as soon as it is printed.

This is where a connected CRM—a CRM that is connected to the firm’s practice software where data is flowing into the CRM every few minutes—starts to really add value. This connectivity is vital because it means the CRM is always monitoring the services being provided to whom and to whom not.

A good CRM will enable you to use that data to grow revenue. While there are many great CRMs on the market, none of them can serve a firm well if the CRM is not connected in some way to the firm’s practice management and billing software.

Don’t Just Store Data, Maximize Its Value

This is where you need a plan. All the best tech in the world is pointless without well-defined processes.

Think about that payroll example again. The strategy was to find 100 new clients for the service. This might break down into a number of tactics like:

  • Add every new non-payroll client to a drip marketing campaign where, over a 12-month period, they are sent a series of emails promoting your payroll service. If someone signs up at any time during the campaign, then automatically cease sending emails to that person.
  • For those 1,500 clients that do not purchase payroll services, create a two week game plan where each partner receives 10 clients to call—one each working day. Partners have to grow their revenue, but they still have client work to do, so implementing bite-sized business development activities is key. After all, you have to make life easier for them, not harder.

Process, Process, Process

The key to a campaign directed toward these 1,500 existing clients is to implement the processes AND ensure the technology you have in place is connected. It is highly likely that at least 10% of those targets will sign up, but the process is what allows you to realize these kinds of goals.

Focus on New Clients, Too

You will want to also consider completely new clients in your overall growth goal, but that requires that you understand what percentage of growth will come from new versus existing clients. To figure this out, go back to the strategy.

If a firm wants an additional $50k in payroll services, what percentage is from new clients? Breaking goals down into more manageable chunks helps. For example, let’s suppose that 50% of that is to come from new clients and 50% from existing clients. That’s $25k from each, or 50 new clients and 50 cross-sells.

Now, for new clients, which niche(s) are you most successful in? Build a list for these targets in CRM, and as you add someone new, that person is automatically added to the related drip campaign. Or add them to your two week business development game plan.

It’s About Strategy and Tech

Cross-selling is a crucial aspect of the growth and success of accounting firms. A smart strategy along with the right technology is essential to achieve the desired results.

To build an effective cross-selling campaign, you first need to know what your clients buy and what they do not. By using a connected CRM, you can track services and maximize the value of the data collected. The other part of the equation is implementing well-defined processes and tactics which can lead to an increase in sales, especially if you break down the growth goals into manageable chunks.

Technology can make the identification of cross-selling opportunities easier than ever before. Use it to your advantage to see higher year-over-year client revenue. But technology cannot do it alone. Your marketing and selling savvy is what allows you to take the prospect technology put at your fingertips and convert it into a higher-paying, more connected and, likely, more loyal clients.

Find the right CRM, make it the heart of your practice, use it to implement your growth strategy and revel in the future that comes your way.

About the Author:

Simon Leek is the CEO of FibreCRM, a client relationships management (CRM) software that helps accountants save time and innovate the way they manage their practices. He works to make accountants’ lives easier by helping them solve the problems associated with data silos by putting CRM at the heart of the practice. He can be contacted at