Kaufman Rossin’s Sales Execution Story: ‘It’s Not an Art, It’s a Science’

Sales experts at Miami-based Kaufman Rossin say creating a business development culture that generates revenue over the long term is not as mysterious as it’s made out to be. 

Business development has been called an art, but it’s actually a science, says Ralph MacNamara, who leads business development at the six-office IPA 100 firm. Success requires discipline, focus and consistency — assessing skills on an ongoing basis, refining them, tracking progress and offering financial rewards. 

MacNamara and business development manager Lina Vendries spoke at the annual conference of the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) May 25 in Philadelphia. The pair shared their insights, outlined the six sales capabilities for sustained revenue growth and offered 10 questions firm leaders can ask to assess them. The capabilities are:

Engagement with prospects and clients — Vendries says, “The best source for new engagements is just going straight to the source – your own clients. Are you really analyzing that?”

Sales management — Kaufman Rossin’s training program includes Networking 101, Prospecting 201 and Selling 301. Each level is extensive, with 50 or more modules per course. MacNamara offers one-on-one coaching as well. Sales training is not mandatory, but firm culture breeds interest. 

Sales tools — Whether the tools are articles, blog posts, proposals or a pitch deck, the message across every form of firm communication must be consistent. Pitch decks, Vendries explains, are easy-to-digest documents that provide a detailed look at what’s happening within an industry. Firm members can literally step aside, read the information and come back with conversation starters for a prospect. 

Positioning — Identify your firm’s unique strengths. If you can’t answer the question of what differentiates you, “chances are you might not be getting that business because your competitors DO know,” MacNamara says. 

Data strategy — Take a step back and connect the data you already have. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can be tremendously helpful, but typically only a handful of people use CRMs to their full capability.. Identify your “source of truth,” CRM or your legacy systems. 

Change management —  Establishing a sales culture should come from the top and the following items should be in place: sales budgets for each service line and industry, a bonus policy that’s clearly explained as early as the onboarding process, and a conflict resolution process to solve bonus disagreements with they arise. 

Here are the questions that can help firms assess their sales capabilities:

  1. Does management regularly communicate the importance of business development at firm meetings and provide bonuses to incentivize employees to generate business?
  2. Is the system fair? Partners typically think it’s fair while young professionals don’t, MacNamara said. “If we had a room full of managing partners they’d say we’re doing really well.”
  3. Do we have a structured approach to our data strategy that generates leads and provides sales insight from our various tools? Vendries says firms with inaccurate data and tools that aren’t used properly are leaving money on the table. 
  4. Do we have a deep understanding of our client mix by service line, industry, geography and revenue? Firm members should be able to tell a prospect, for example, that of 2,000 real estate clients, half of them are in commercial real estate. 
  5. Does our marketing and sales content reflect the unique strengths of our firm? “There’s never been a time like today, with COVID, that in the digital arena we need to communicate consistently,” MacNamara says. 
  6. Do we publicize new business on a regular basis? Kaufman Rossin produces a leaderboard that lists top sellers and the dollar amount of new business, which has proven to be a big motivator. “It’s a lot easier to do than you think, and it can have a bigger impact than you could ever imagine,” MacNamara says. 
  7. Do we provide ongoing sales training and business development coaching to aspiring rainmakers?
  8. Do we proactively build and nurture relationships with referral sources? Digital is “all the rage,” MacNamara says, but referrals will continue to be a big part of sales strategy. “If you’re not doing it, your competitors are.”
  9. Do we proactively make contact with prospects to generate business leads? “Live your life more fully,” MacNamara advises, and leads will come more naturally. 
  10. Do we proactively cross-sell services to existing clients? Kaufman Rossin aims to identify three people within the firm to connect with three people at a client company to create “intentional collisions,” he says. “It’s the best source of business. It’s there to be had.”

Lina Vendries, MBA, is a Business Development Manager at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.

Ralph MacNamara, MBA, is a Business Development Principal at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.