A Sales Process is the process your firm uses to take an initial enquiry and progress it to a fully-paid up new client. Now, creating a sales process is easy, you just have to outline the steps you need to take to convert your lead to a client. Anyone can do that; it’s creating a successful sales process that’s difficult! The purpose of this article is to give you 11 must-haves for a successful sales process. One that helps you to reduce the time you waste on prospects who are a bad fit for your firm AND increase the fee you can charge your clients.
This article is based on content that we shared in our How to handle a client enquiry virtual masterclass. If you want to listen to the full recording, download it here for free.
The magic 11 things that make up a successful sales process
Your sales process should not only win you more clients, but it should also win you the right type of clients. The clients that you actually want to work with and who are a great fit for your firm. If it's not doing just that, then you need to review your process and check that you have these 11 things in place.
1. Sales process flow chart
The first thing you need for a successful sales process is a Sales Process Flow Chart. This is exactly what you think it is: a graphic flow chart of every single step in the whole sales process from receiving a client enquiry to onboarding them as a client. As well as using it to analyse your existing process, your sales process flow chart will help you to make decisions and manage your sales leads through each phase of the buyer's journey.
With your team members, map out your current sales process and talk through each step. For each stage, decide whether your firm wants to carry on doing what it is doing or whether this needs to change and be improved.
2. New client onboarding flow chart
Another essential flow chart you will need to create is mapping out your new client onboarding process. It's crucial to streamline this process as you want to make a great first impression with new clients, not lose their business within the first few weeks of working together!
Exactly the same as your sales process flow chart, go through your onboarding process with your team. Do new clients have everything they need when they come onboard? Are you welcoming them but also addressing any questions and concerns they may have? Do they understand exactly what services are available to them?
If you streamline the perfect onboarding process, you will:
- decrease manual or duplicate data entry by your firm or your new client
- reduce the time to on board clients by automating several tasks
- minimise the likelihood of stuff getting missed and a client crisis happening
- increase your firm's chances of generating referrals from the new client
3. Pre-qualification script
Many accountants don't have a script that they follow when they receive an enquiry from a prospect, but you need one if you want to create a successful sales process. Without a script, you're handling enquiries as they come in and this takes up a lot of your time (especially if the prospect ends up being not interested or just a bad fit). If you do have a pre-qualification script that your receptionist or a dedicated member of the team can use to pre-qualify leads from the start, you can quickly identify whether a prospect is a good fit for your firm or not.
To create your pre-qualification script, first, you need to decide on who will be handling telephone, email or walk-in enquiries. Once you have settled on this, you need to discuss WHO is a good client and HOW to identify this. Together, you can then create a script of specific questions that will help you to quickly identify if the prospect is a good fit for your firm. If they don't fit your firm, you will also need to decide on who you will recommend as an alternative accountant.
Note to Accountants Millionaires' Club Members: you can access the pre-qualification script template in your sales tool kit and tailor this to the type of clients your firm wants to win. The sales kit also contains training materials to help train your staff to pre-qualify leads for you.
4. Discovery meeting script
After you have identified a lead as a good fit for your firm, you're going to want to book a discovery meeting with that lead. This is your chance to convert your lead to a client, so you really have to be prepared for this stage. Much like the pre-qualification script, you can also create a discovery meeting script. This will guide you and your team members, telling you exactly what to do and say during the meeting to achieve one of these three outcomes:
- Your firm has got an agreement that they will come on board as a client AND got a verbal agreement to the proposed fee.
- Your firm and the prospect has decided that they will not come on board as a client.
- The prospect needs another meeting before they can fully commit to coming on board as a client of your firm.
To create a successful sales process, you will need to refine your discovery meeting script and train your team members to be comfortable in using it. This will ensure that your firm quotes at the appropriate level and doesn't leave any business on the table!
If you need help with your discovery meeting (including what you need to get from your prospect beforehand), download our free sales process map here.
5. Upsell advisory service to existing clients script
This script is a resource that many accountants don't even think about, yet it makes sense to have it. Why not strike while the iron is hot and upsell your advisory services to your existing clients who want compliance services from you? If your team members have a script to follow, this takes away the fear and uncertainty of trying to upsell.
With your team members who will be doing client meetings such as year-end accounts meetings, quarterly reviews, complementary client reviews, client business reviews, and 'keeping in touch' meetings, they will benefit most from this script. Once you have scripts tailored to the type of client meetings, you can train your team members to comfortably and naturally upsell your advisory services. If you do this right, they will even become confident at quoting a fee too!
6. Pre-work checklist
A successful sales process weeds out time-wasters and low payers every step of the way. This is what this step is all about, it's a checkpoint to see if the lead is really interested.
Once you have pre-qualified a lead as a good fit for your firm and you've booked a discovery meeting with them, a great thing to implement in between these steps is some pre-work for the prospect. This way, you know that the prospect is indeed committed to meeting with you and coming on as a client, and you get everything you need to help you convert the prospect at the meeting.
This is where the pre-work checklist comes in handy. All you have to do is send the prospect a checklist of information that they need to send to your firm in advance of the discovery meeting. When you have this, you can then run the meeting efficiently.
Note to Accountants Millionaires' Club Members: you can access the pre-work checklist in your sales tool kit!
7. Potential new client pack
If you want to wow your prospect before they even meet with you at the discovery meeting, send them out a Potential New Client Pack! This simple move will:
- Increase the perceived value of your firm's services.
- Showcase the value and range of services your firm can provide.
- Enhance the average value of a new client.
- Increase the conversion rate from prospect to client.
This really sets apart a successful sales process from an average sales process, so focus on getting this set up with your sales or marketing team. To action this step, you will need to:
- Decide on what you will include in your pack (e.g. letter template, prospect questionnaire, pre-work checklist etc).
- Determine whether you will have a physical pack, an electronic pack or both.
- Identify how the sales process and workflow will need to change for the potential new client pack to be included.
- Decide who will do what to start to send out this pack to prospects before the discovery meeting.
8. Letter template
Whether you choose to include it in your potential new client pack or send it out separately, you should send a letter to your prospect before the discovery meeting to confirm essential details. This can be a physical letter or an email; its purpose is to confirm who will be in the meeting, the date and time of the meeting, the location and its duration. A good letter should also give them directions to the location (if it is a physical meeting) and ask for any pre-work that you need before the meeting.
A successful sales process and onboarding process is all about making it as easy as possible for your new clients to work with you so you need to think about how you can keep everything clear and minimise any confusion or frustrations for them.
9. Prospect questionnaire
The purpose of the prospect questionnaire is to complete a thorough fact-find about your prospect. What motivates them? Which are their major challenges right now? What are their pain points? How is their business performing right now? These are questions that you need to be asking about as this information is gold dust.
Just like with the letter template, this needs to be sent out as part of the Potential New Client Pack. Once it has been filled in and returned to you before the discovery meeting, you can then use this information to structure your meeting. Half of the meeting needs to be you delving deeper into their business and getting to the heart of their challenges. Only once you have done this sufficiently can you then communicate to them how your firm can best serve them.
What’s great about this resource is that it helps your team members, who may be unnatural or inexperience salespeople, ask the right questions in the discovery meeting.
Note to Accountants Millionaires' Club Members: you can find both the letter template and the prospect questionnaire in your sales tool kit. This also gives you more suggestions for what to include in your Potential New Client Pack.
10. Simple quoting tool
Using a quoting tool is a great way of making sure your firm charges consistently, whoever is actually quoting, for the work it is doing for clients. It can also be used as part of a client portfolio analysis exercise to see what clients should be paying versus what they are actually paying now.
Creating a successful sales process needs to include a quoting tool which you can use live in the discovery meeting. Why? Because you need to strike while the iron is hot (that is, when they are ready to buy). Clients are always interested in how much this is going to cost, so if you can quote them within the meeting immediately after you’ve positioned your firm as their best solution, you are a lot more likely to convert that prospect.
As well as increasing your conversion rate, a quoting tool also makes your team members a lot more comfortable to discuss price and it also means that prospects are less likely to push back against a price that has been suggested by a computer.
- How your self-esteem determines how you will price your accountancy firm’s services
- How to price your accountancy services – the science behind it!
11. Proposal template
Coming towards the end of the sales process, you will need to send out a proposal to the potential client. Just like every other resource we have suggested here, you can streamline this step by using a proposal template.
In the discovery meeting, when a prospect has verbally agreed to come on board as a client, you can use the proposal template to ask them some essential questions. You can even start to fill in the proposal template to ensure that you and the prospect are in complete agreement about what needs to be done and why. As well as clarity, this template reduces the time it takes to create a proposal. Imagine having written the client proposal before the discovery meeting has even finished?
Just like the quoting tool, if you can create the proposal within the meeting, you are far more likely to get potential clients on board. Yes, it's about using this momentum in the meeting to help you convert leads, but it's also about coming across as professional and organised as possible. It's all about making that all-important first impression.
Note to Accountants Millionaires' Club Members: you can access the proposal template in your sales tool kit!
Start winning the right types of clients
With the right scripts, templates and checklists, you can create a successful sales process that you can follow for every client enquiry you have. If you follow the steps of your sales process flow chart, you will also be able to easily qualify your leads and weed out the time-wasters from the real leads.
That really is it. 11 magic resources and you can create a sales process that helps you to effortlessly convert enquiries into clients (and in a lot less time). You just need to take some time to review your current process and refine it with these 11 essential elements.
If you need some help with your sales process, don't forget to download our free sales process map.
Learn how to quickly add an extra £2k of monthly recurring income to your practice (even if you are a reluctant business developer)
Download (for free) the workshop recording of 'How to quickly add £2k of monthly recurring revenue to your practice' and you will discover:
- How to generate more income from your existing clients without putting in place a price rise
- How to get your clients to pay for more services without seen to be profiteering or ambulance chasing
- What marketing your firm can do right now which is going to cause new good clients to flock to your firm