How To Grow Your Professional Services Business During Tough Times
With fast-changing information and client expectations, professional services firms need to try new tactics to bring in revenue.
Chelsie Groslie Cheney
Accountants. Consultants. Lawyers. These professions have one thing in common: they put their clients at the center of everything they do.
As a top 25 CPA and advisory firm, Eide Bailly entered this pandemic committed to helping our clients navigate an uncertain future, even as we were facing the same challenges. New guidance seemed to roll out every day. Best practices were made, then remade. What would everything look like once this all shook out?
Our clients needed help sifting through all the information, so that’s where we focused. We answered individual questions about the latest tax and financial implications. We scaled our efforts through a series of webinars, including one that this blog post is based on. And we offered tailored care packages to clients in need of more support.
Through all this, we found that we can pivot quickly. While sometimes it can be uncomfortable not knowing all the answers, our clients appreciated when we kept them front of mind in a rapidly changing environment.
Here’s how we did it:
Answer commonly asked questions
A pandemic is not the best time to be peddling your services, but it is the perfect time to listen and offer your expertise.
Top of mind for our clients? How they could get financial relief. Our business development team was bombarded with emails asking about Paycheck Protection Program loans from the Small Business Administration. But because the program was so new and information changed regularly, it was hard for our entire firm of professionals to get – and stay – up-to-speed.
To solve for that, we set up a feed on Chatter, where we could surface questions and answers to everyone in the business. That enabled us to crowdsource among our experts so that we could confidently help our clients in a timely fashion.
A screenshot of my Chatter profile in Salesforce
Scale education by holding webinars
We also knew we needed a way to scale our expertise to help more clients.
Enter the webinar, a virtual video workshop that allows us to present to thousands of people at once. One webinar we held had an unprecedented 4,000 attendees, or about 20 times our normal audience.
In total, we put on 20 webinars for nearly 50,000 clients and prospects on topics ranging from how to apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans to how specific industries should manage their finances during this time. That amounted to thousands of people we were able to follow up with and potentially turn into new clients.
Facilitate conversations and offer tailored support
Inspired by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES), a financial assistance package to help taxpayers and businesses, Eide Bailly created our own internal initiative called “EB CARES.” Our program focuses on filling the needs of our larger clients, who often required more tailored advice and support.
We used Salesforce to identify the top 15 clients per advisor through an already-created accounts list. Advisors then reached out to understand how these clients were managing, and if there was any way we could be of service. This has resulted in about 1,500 calls to date!
As a result of this systematic approach, we were able to serve our clients better and surface new business. Of 250 opportunities uncovered so far, nearly 100 have already progressed to active projects.
Work as one team
As our team has been reaching out to clients, it has been incredibly helpful that they’re equipped with the right collaboration tools.
In the last year, we’ve integrated Sales Cloud, which we’ve dubbed “The Hive,” because it represents the collective consciousness of our teamwork. The Hive allows us to share a single view of the client and their activities among multiple teams.
Previously, collaboration was tough, because much of business development was done in siloed, individual spreadsheets. With Salesforce, we have a platform we can all work together on, even if we aren’t in the same physical location.
For example, if a client has a particularly complex situation that requires specialized knowledge, an advisor can tag other experts and bring them up to speed on the case quickly. By doing so, the advisor expands their own understanding.
Back to basics
As we begin to reopen our offices and the pressure ramps up, it can be tempting to return to the old ways of doing business. We can’t forget what we’ve learned (or have been reminded of) during this time: putting the client first is always the right approach.
At Eide Bailly, the way we care about our clients remains the same, but the methods we’ve used to engage them have changed. The result of this intense focus on providing value to the client is that it cements us as advisors with existing clients and prospects. And that is what leads to growth.
Learn more about how you can build the skills to become a trusted advisor for your clients in our recent webinar. Or find the latest tips, thought leadership, and resources with our Leading Through Change series.