Practice Management

Managing Your Firm’s Pipeline Process

CPA Firm Business Development

By Katie Tolin, CPA Growth Guides

Your pipeline is a document that inventories all open and active pursuits that are occurring across the firm at a given point in time. A document alone won’t produce the results you desire. You need a process to review the pipeline to address next steps and share advice to increase your odds of winning.

In this AAMplify! podcast, Gale Crosley, president of Crosley + Company, shares tips related to the pipeline as well at the entire opportunity pursuit process including pipeline reviews, win/loss reports and even sales training.

Crosley strongly believes a firm’s success in the opportunity pursuit process stems from having the managing partner lead phone calls or meetings to review the firm-wide pipeline. She explains that the partners are beholden to the managing partner and don’t want to let him or her down. In addition, it’s the managing partner’s job to drive the growth of the firm and this confirms the importance of the pipeline process.

In addition, Crosley offers the following suggestions:

  • Your pipeline document must be classified by stage, which is how you know where a lead is in the sales process. For example, this could include proposal stage or final stage.
  • Move those leads off the pipeline that are either won or loss. These are contained in a win/loss report, and you should calculate your win percentage in terms of both dollars won and number of opportunities won.
  • Pipeline reviews are conducted on a regular basis so business development isn’t an afterthought. Keep them to 30 minutes every two weeks and share snippets of information to keep people on track and moving at a quick pace. And you don’t take vacations from these meetings. Someone else can facilitate in the managing partner’s absence.
  • What you should do next should be the focus during pipeline reviews. Next steps are what keep your leads moving and alive. Everyone on the call should be listening for areas where people need help and offering assistance.
  • Mix it up so your pipeline review meetings don’t get stale. You can start at the top or at the bottom, by service line or by industry or with new lead or old leads. Pick a different starting place each time.
  • Compliment the opportunity pursuit process with sales training. You will need to look outside your firm to find a program that focuses on the application of techniques in different situations. Solution selling at a high level is what you need.
  • Know your KPIs and what they tell you about the growth of the firm. This includes what percent of current revenue is on the pipeline and your average win rate. You aren’t growing if the percent of current revenue on your pipeline is in the single digits.

A pipeline is not a wish list of companies your firm would like to work with. Your opportunity pursuit process should be a well-oiled machine that allows you to drive growth in a more successful manner. Listen in for more great advice and hear benchmarks for your KPIs.

About AAMplify!

AAMplify! is a podcast series by the Association for Accounting Marketing, AAMplify! These short, single topic discussions are easy to comprehend and include topics ranging from growth strategies to business development tips to digital marketing. You can subscribe to the series via iTunes, Stitcher or YouTube.





About Katie Tolin

Katie Tolin is the president and chief growth guide at CPA Growth Guides. She’s a former in-house marketer having spent time at regional, super-regional and national accounting firms. Today she helps CPA firms drive top-line revenue and profitability through data-driven marketing strategies. She’s a past president of AAM, a former marketer of the year and was inducted into the Accounting Marketing Hall of Fame.

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