Amplify!, CPA Growth Trends, Marketing

Amplify | Qualifying Marketing-Generated Leads

Generating digital leads is just the beginning for accounting firms. The real challenge lies in effectively qualifying and managing those leads to convert them into loyal clients. From initial contact to final decision, every step needs to be meticulously planned and executed to maximize conversion rates and drive business growth.

To shed light on this process, Stacy Dreher, director of practice growth at James Moore, dives into the intricate process of qualifying marketing-generated leads in the final episode of Amplify’s lead generation season. Here’s how she makes sure marketing is a revenue driver.

Developing a Robust Process

Firms need an effective sales process once leads start coming in.

“Too often, as marketers, we’re really focused on lead generation and we don’t stop to think about what we are actually going to do with the leads once they start coming in,” she said.

Not all firms have dedicated sales development representatives or business developers to handle leads, making it crucial for marketers to own the process from the initial contact to the final decision.

James Moore has refined its lead handling process over the years, with significant improvements coming in the last two to three years. Dreher explained that their receptionists are trained to ask specific questions to determine the nature of the inquiry — whether it’s from a sole proprietor, an individual or someone looking for a one-time consultation. This initial screening helps direct the lead appropriately, either to the website for more information or to a live person for further qualification.

For more qualified leads, they are sent to the firm’s business development associate or, as a backup, to the marketing and communications coordinator. This ensures that each lead is handled promptly and efficiently, reducing the chances of losing potential clients to delays or miscommunications.

“Responsiveness is key,” Dreher affirms. “Prospects appreciate the attention to detail and swift follow-up, which ultimately contributes to a positive client experience and higher conversion rates.”

Automation and Personalization

To manage the high volume of leads, James Moore has implemented an automated rejection system based on qualification questions included in their online forms. This system helps filter out unqualified leads without wasting valuable time and resources.

“We even started to quote minimum engagement fees in the individual tax section of our online form really as a deterrent,” she noted.

While initially resistant to automation, Dreher recognized its necessity in managing time and resources effectively. However, the process is not entirely automated. Qualified leads go through a robust form system that integrates both online and internal form submissions. This system builds a detailed profile of the prospect, asking in-depth questions about their business, revenue, industry and specific needs.

“It’s like a family tree,” Dreher described. “You start small at the top, and as you go through, it really builds upon itself.”

A standout feature of James Moore’s process is the real-time scheduling of meetings with qualified leads. Once a lead is deemed suitable, the team schedules an appointment on the spot, ensuring a seamless transition from initial contact to consultation. This proactive approach helps maintain engagement and demonstrates the firm’s responsiveness and professionalism.

Maintaining Control and Tracking

Marketing needs to maintain control over the sales cycle and not just pass leads off to partners without proper follow-up.

“I think the most important aspects of this entire process are lead qualification and maintaining control over the sales cycle,” she said.

By doing so, marketing professionals can ensure that leads are properly nurtured and that partners are not overwhelmed with unqualified prospects.

To track their results, James Moore uses a detailed system that integrates their form submissions with their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, HubSpot. This allows them to monitor leads through the entire sales pipeline, from initial contact to final decision.

“I also track, to the best I can, the actual revenue generated each year from the clients brought on through digital marketing efforts,” Dreher added.

This data-driven approach helps the firm make informed decisions about their marketing investments and strategies.

The Evolution of Lead Management

When she first joined the firm, they weren’t getting any online leads. Over time, as their digital presence grew, they had to adapt their lead qualification process to handle the increasing volume and complexity of inquiries.

Through collaboration with segment and service line leaders, Dreher and her team have developed a comprehensive lead qualification process that continually evolves to meet the firm’s needs. Regular feedback from partners ensures that the process remains effective and aligned with the firm’s goals.

Dreher’s efforts have significantly elevated the perception of marketing within James Moore. By demonstrating that marketing can be a revenue driver, she has gained a seat at the executive table and increased her team’s influence within the firm.

“Partners love when we can serve them a qualified large opportunity on a silver platter,” she said.

This recognition has allowed her to advocate for more resources and build a robust team capable of driving the firm’s growth.

 

This blog post was written based on content from the latest season of Amplify, the podcast of AAM – dedicated to firm growth. This article is based on Season 6, Episode 7, featuring a conversation with Stacy Dreher, director of practice growth at James Moore. Learn more about the podcast and listen first-hand at https://accountingmarketing.org/category/amplify/

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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