Four Pillars of Designing Your Firm's Growth Culture

Webinar Description

As a firm leader or growth officer, you know that sustainable growth and the right culture are critical to attracting and keeping top clients and top talent. Growth and culture don’t happen by chance—your vision, strategies, and implementation practices all play a role.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recall the current state and future state of your sales growth culture

  • Determine the impact of sales growth on your organization

  • Recognize key areas like strategy, people, process, and technology

  • Identify accountability practices

  • Construct a culture of sales growth in distributed environments

Speaker(s): Amy Franko - Founder & CEO, Amy Franko Associates

Webinar Transcript

Nathan:

Hello everyone, thank you so much for joining us here at CPA Academy. We are so excited to have Amy Franko back. I will hand it over in just one moment. I do want to give a big thank you to bill.com for sponsoring today's content. Before we hand it over, we're going to do a few housekeeping items. We want to make sure everything is working for you, the audience. We're going to make sure audio is coming through, that you can see the slides, you can see Amy up on your screen. We'll let you know how to use that questions pane if you have questions, comments. I'll let you know about your handout. Of course, we'll let you know about your CPE. So let's get started.

We want to drawing your attention over to that questions pane. Many people are already typing in letting me know where they are joining us from. So if you haven't already, please say hello. If you do have any questions for Amy, please post them in that questions pane. If there's time, we'll do some Q&A, but we'll also be sending out a full report with all your questions a little bit later today. So please ask away. There is a handout available for this course. We included that in the reminder email, but you can also download the PDF right now through that handouts pane. Download and follow along. This is a one hour course eligible for one CPE. In order to get that credit, you need to do two things, attend this full session and answer the polling questions. Those polls are going to be launched periodically. You just need to select the radio button that best fits your answer, submit, and you're good to go. We'll do our best to get your credit processed a little later today, but you should see it in your account by tomorrow.

We will also be recording this session and we'll send you that archive link a little later today. So let me check in with our audience. Hello audience, thank you for joining us. I see here we have Amanda in Illinois, Lisa, Michigan, Erin in Texas, Chicago, Sacramento, Idaho, Florida. People look excited. I think they're ready for this to start. So that's my cue to step aside. So I'm going to hand it over to Diana over at bill.com. Diana, thanks so much. The floor is yours.

Diana Tucci:

Hi, I'm Diana, part of the marketing team at bill.com. We're thrilled to host and welcome you to today's webinar, Four Pillars of Designing Your Firm's Growth Culture. For those who aren't familiar with bill.com, we're a leading cloud-based platform that automates, connects, and streamlines back office financial processes such as payables and receivables. We partner with leading US financial institutions, many US accounting firms, and popular accounting software to make it easier for you to do less manual back office work and more of what you love.

With that in mind, today's webinar is the third of our series on scaling growth. The story of growth is different for every firm, but the journey really isn't. Growth is about change. And the good news is there's a methodology behind what changes to make and when. Please join me in welcoming Amy Franko. Amy is the founder and CEO of Amy Franko Associates. She works with professional services organizations to accelerate their growth results through both strategy and skill development. She's the author of Amazon bestseller, The Modern Seller, and is recognized by LinkedIn as a top sales voice. So without further ado, let's welcome Amy Franko.

Amy Franko:

Diana, Nathan, thank you both so much. It's great to be here with all of you. I know this is your third session in this series for this year, but my first opportunity to be with all of you. And if you can believe it, my third year in partnering up with my friends at bill.com and also at CPA Academy to do this work together. So it's awesome to be here with all of you. And today's topic around four pillars of designing your firm's growth culture really can apply to you if you are a, maybe you're a partner or you're a founder of your firm, but also if you happen to be someone participating today, you are an individual contributor, an individual professional in your firm, I promise there's something that you'll be able to take away from this as well to really build a culture with your clients even and to be part of building the growth culture that your firm needs in order to continue to be successful.

I'm really excited about today's topic and I think it's a little bit more of a strategic view if you will, but I promise that you'll also get some good tactical things that you could take away and put into action. So with that, I'm actually going to open this up with a poll question straight out of the gate. So, Nathan, if you could tee everything up, that would be excellent.

Nathan:

Thank you. That is launched. We'll leave that up for about a minute.

Amy Franko:

Great. So this whole question, I just wanted to get a sense of what are your clients telling you are their biggest challenges right now? And I almost feel like that first one is a little bit of a gimmick. I will tell you that that's probably the top conversation I'm having with my clients who tend to be professional services folks like yourself. I do also work with some other industries as well. I have some tech clients, I have some manufacturing clients, big, small, and everywhere in between, and I will say that this is probably a top burning issue. So we'll give this, let's see, maybe another 15 seconds. I think we keep it open for a minute and give you an opportunity to continue answering that.

Nathan:

Thank you, Amy. We will close and share those results.

Amy Franko:

All right. Excellent. So I'll tell you, I put that second answer in there for you to think about because especially with my professional services clients, I have had more than one conversation with them about actually turning away business because they themselves are really challenged by having the staffing require to honor and engagement. So that's why I put that in there and I was curious as to what you all were seeing. So thank you for answering that question.

And with that, we will move on and I'm going to talk about some trends here. If you've spent any amount of time around me, you know I love to look at trends and see and just to draw comparisons and say, think about what's happening in the bigger landscape that might be impacting you, but also just as importantly impacting your clients. So as I go through today's conversation looking through the lens of how you can create firm growth culture, but also how can you help your clients create growth culture as well?

So a couple trends that I'd like to share with you. The first is you are probably experiencing this already, whether it's in your firm with your clients, your clients are radically shifting their business models. And if they aren't thinking about it or acting on it, they might be stuck. And that's where it can also signify the need for your expertise and the services that you bring to help them grow their businesses. But so many customers are having to, so many industries are having to look at their business models, whether it's their products, their solutions, how they're going to market, and they are having to pivot in ways that they haven't had to before. What that means for us is if we're paying attention to that, not only in our own firms, but paying attention to that with our clients, that can signify ways in which we can help them. When we help them grow, then we can also grow smartly as well.

The second piece of this is the acceleration of digital transformation. More and more, our clients are wanting to interact with us in ways that are digital, but also balance what I would call concierge service. I'm seeing a balance of that out in the industry. It's the choice, right? It's the choice to be able to interact with us in a way that is easy, so the digital side of things, but also having access to us when they want that higher level of service, they want those conversations and they want to be talking about things that perhaps digital environments can't necessarily address. So thinking about this for yourself, how is your firm having to accelerate your own digital transformation? And then how is that also impacting your clients and your perspective clients?

A couple of other trends or statistics to be paying attention to. The first is that overall loyalty is somewhat being challenged. Up to 25% of your client base might be willing to consider other providers. And are you taking a look at your client base? No matter how big or small your firm happens to be, you could have 500 clients, you could have 10 clients. No matter what you're looking at, there's a percentage of them that might be willing to switch providers and they might not be as loyal as what we think that they are. And are we paying attention to that? So thinking about the verticals that you serve, the processes, the solutions, the interactions that you provide to those clients. Are we engendering loyalty or are we perhaps not paying attention like we need to be and could that loyalty be in jeopardy?

And then the second statistic on screen here, relevancy matters more than ever to our clients. And it has jumped in importance over the last few years. Now, relevancy is probably somewhat of a subjective term, right? Do we understand what's most relevant to our clients and our perspective clients? What are the top three, maybe top five things that make us relevant to them? Do we have a way to capture that data? And do we have a way to act on that data? And if I use our friends at bill.com as an example, the data that they provide to you as part of that tech stack, there's goldmine in there of understanding what's potentially relevant to a client or perspective client. So that's just one example of how you can uncover relevancy, but do you have ways to really capture that with your clients and perspective clients and then act on it?

All right, so a couple things to be as food for thought for you as you're considering your growth culture and what types of strategies are you going to put in place to make sure that you're creating the right growth culture? All right, a couple more things for you to think about here. Client experience or customer experience is going to overtake price and product as a key differentiator. If we are simply going to market on great fees or we have a great product or great service, we unfortunately look like everybody else in the eyes of a client or a perspective client. Where we have the opportunity to differentiate ourselves is through the experience that we provide. And I give you the caveat that the experience that we provide really needs to be driven by what's most relevant, again, to the client or the perspective client. So taking the time to really understand what's most important to them about the experience and working with us can help us to stand out and again, contribute to growth culture.

42% of companies are investing in improving their customer experience. And the reason that they're doing it is to improve sales growth, growth culture, sales growth. They want to grow their organization and they see the tie between client experience and that growth. A third of companies that are investing in improving customer experience, they're doing it to improve retention. Now, in this case, they're doing it to improve client retention. I would also argue that we need to be taking a look at it from internal talent retention. So a third of you, or I'm sorry, two thirds of you were saying that your clients are being challenged by talent acquisition and retention. I'm going to guess that a lot of this applies to you as well. So improving client experience and doing it to improve retention, not only can we improve the retention of the clients that we are keeping, we can also use this to improve the retention of people that want to stay with us and want to grow with us.

I'm going to introduce a somewhat counterintuitive idea when it comes to creating a growth culture. So the idea of holding these kind of conflicting ideas in our minds, whether you're a firm leader or you are an individual contributor. So this kind of counterintuitive idea, if we can separate it out and really think about how it can impact our growth, I think if we focus in on something like this, we are going to see excellent growth. And here's the counterintuitive idea, that world-class service is synonymous with growth. There isn't a firm that I talk to or in any other industry for that matter, that doesn't have something about service as part of their mission, as part of their vision, as part of how they want to be seen and remembered with their clients.

But sometimes where this gets confused is we equate providing world-class service with growth. I would say that world-class service gives us the opportunity to retain what we have and perhaps see some small incremental growth, but it's not going to help us grow in bigger ways if in fact that is your goal as a firm to see larger, more exponential growth. So as we kind of grapple with that idea in your mind, I want to give you some ways to be potentially acting on this in a different way. So you can see the source of this particular idea. And I wanted to call attention to this. This comes from Gartner. And the idea that for those organizations that are perceived as providing a client improvement or customer improvement, if we can help our clients improve their business, in other words, we are significantly more likely to be able to provide incremental services, additional features to what we're already doing, and additional products. So whatever it is that you happen to provide, you can be in a position to provide more or different services if we help our clients focus on improving their business.

Client improvement is this ability of all of us to be able to critically assess our customers' businesses in a way that they can't really appreciate on their own. So we have to be able to bring new ideas, new ways of thinking, new problems to solve that they can't always see in their own mind's eye because they tend to be siloed. They're looking at their own organization. Our job is to bring other perspectives and other ideas to them so they can be thinking differently and more critically. If we can do that and help them identify new ways to grow, new ways to save, new ways to reduce risk, if we can connect those new ideas and new ways of thinking to new opportunities for them, that's where the magic happens because we're already hopefully providing that world-class service and we can maintain things at a certain level, but then finding those new ways to help them grow, new ways to reach their goals, that's where the magic is.

So with that in mind, the rest of the conversation today, I'm going to introduce these four pillars for you to be thinking about the ways that you can use these four pillars to help your clients improve their businesses and you will also improve your own. All right. So with that, I'm going to bring us to the next poll question. So if we can go ahead and tee that up, please.

Nathan:

Thanks, Amy. That's launched. We'll leave it up for a minute.

Amy Franko:

All right. So I wanted to get a sense of whether your firm has a growth strategy in place today. So you can see the answers there ranging from everything from yes, we have one designed and fully implemented, all the way to, no, we don't have one in place today. And often what I find is there are firms that are [inaudible 00:16:38] everybody's on a maturity spectrum with this, so you might also be somewhere in the middle. All right.

Nathan:

All right, we'll give everybody about five more seconds and then I will close and share these results.

Amy Franko:

Excellent.

Nathan:

All right, just last couple of about 10 and we will close and share.

Amy Franko:

All right, it looks like, well, over half of you, 65% of you, you either have one fully designed and implemented, or you're in the process of developing one. Okay, that is really good to know. So regardless of where you happen to be on your journey, we will cover these pillars that you can use to either fine tune what you are doing, or it can be a launching pad for you to be able to start creating this if in fact this is a goal for you and your firm. All right. Maybe Diana, if you're there, are there any questions along the way just yet?

Diana Tucci:

What can we be doing to make sure that we're working with the right clients and perspective clients?

Amy Franko:

Yes. Got you. That's a good one. And especially one in the vein of this poll question around your growth strategy. Part of your growth strategy is the clients that you are either targeting to bring into your organization, your firm, or the ones that you want to potentially grow. And you may have some that may not be quite a fit for you anymore. So as you're looking at your growth strategy, looking at and assessing each of your clients in those different categories. So you might have your top tier clients, that these are targets that you absolutely want to be growing and deepening the relationship with. You might have some that are more mid-tier and you might have some that are probably like a tier three that you may need to do some thinking around. Do you want to continue investing your time and resources in those particular clients?

So I would say that is absolutely one place to start with your existing clients. With net new potential clients, you can do something similar and also look at them by vertical and by the lifetime value that you could be creating together. So hopefully that gives everybody some food for thought as you are thinking about how to segment your clients as part of your growth strategy.

All right. So let's go ahead and move on here. And I want to give you a working definition of high performance organizations. High performance organizations are more likely to have a few things in common, a few important things in common. They typically have a very client-centric culture. They're very focused on their clients. They excel at providing insights, which is what I just talked about a little bit earlier with that counterintuitive idea. And then lastly, they are really excellent at aligning their business development process to their customer's purchase path.

So if you are looking at growth and wanting to grow smartly, those are three distinct things that you can be looking at, client-centric culture, providing insights, and how well-aligned is your business development process? I find in a lot of firms that for all the rigor that we have around the solutions that we provide, we often don't have a lot of discipline and rigor around a business development process. A way that we consistently as a firm interact with prospective clients and existing clients that ultimately results in working together, in an engagement or some type of long-term working arrangement. So part of your strategy is looking at your processes as well, and I'm going to get into that in a few slides.

From here I want to give you a working definition of growth culture. I call it sales growth culture. You can also call it business development growth culture. It's the same thing and it is the same end game. And here's what it is. It's the strategy, the people, and the tools. So those three things with the goal of ultimately creating sustainable, meaningful, and profitable growth.

Not all growth is good growth. And if it costs you $1 million to do something and you net $0.5 million, that's not always smart growth, right? So as you're looking at where you want to be in the next year or two years, granted there's a lot of disruption still happening right now, so our strategies have to be nimble enough that we can pivot and make changes with the disruptions that are happening around us. But I always say that the end goal is we want to have sustainable, meaningful, profitable growth. That might look different for your firm versus, maybe if you're a small firm, that might look different from a large firm, but really what's meaningful to you and then what strategies, people, and tools will you put into place to help you achieve that?

All right, so before we get into those four pillars, that will be next, I'm going to launch or ask Nathan to launch our third poll question.

Nathan:

All right, that is launched. We'll give everybody about a minute.

Amy Franko:

All right. Excellent. So this poll question is around whether or not your firm offers or plans to offer client advisory services.

Diana Tucci:

Hey, Amy, can I ask a question?

Amy Franko:

Yes, please.

Diana Tucci:

Okay. What is a way we can make sure our BD process is aligned with our clients buying processes?

Amy Franko:

Yes. So I just talked a little bit about how a lot of firms lack a business development process. And when I dig into firms that either, and even some that have immature business development process, a lot of times what we don't do is look at how what we're doing from a business development aspect, how is it aligning to how a client might purchase our services or work with us? So there's an exercise that I will often do, and I'll give you the abridged version of it. And it's something that you all can do as a team or leadership team or as a staff as well.

And that is to pick a couple of clients. And it helps to pick clients that are a little bit different so that you can see the differences in how they buy. And going through step by step how they met you or how you met them, all the way through all the steps that they took in their decision making and buying process to get to a point where they said, yes, I'm going to work with you or no, we are not going to work with you. And what that ultimately uncovers, it sheds a lot of lights on where we will sometimes have gaps in our own business development process and how we interact. So that's an exercise that you can do right away. Pick a couple of clients, recent wins or losses tend to be more helpful because it's fresh, and map out step by step what they did and then what you did to get to that endpoint. So hopefully that helps everybody out.

All right, it looks like we've gone ahead and closed that poll. So thank you. And we will move on here. All right, so let's talk about these four pillars. So the first pillar is all about strategy. Strategy really supports and it also reveals your growth culture. So as you think about your strategy, what does it reveal about your culture? And for those of you that are maybe a little bit newer on this journey, it's not something that you have at this moment, you can be planning forward also to say, what type of strategy or what do I want my culture to be so that my strategies and my growth strategy can support it?

So a couple of different ways that you can start looking at this. What are your key growth areas for the next year? As you look out, and most of my clients, just in all transparency with so much disruption that's happening right now, most of them are really looking out over the next year. And you might be experiencing something similar with your clients that you work with. But as you look out at the next year, where do you see your key growth areas? This can be your products and services. This can be the verticals perhaps that you want to grow. This can be looking at your top five or 10 clients and using the idea that I shared before about what insights and new problems can you uncover for them? So there's a lot of different ways that you can do this for yourself as a firm, but where do you see your key growth areas? And are you capturing it and then communicating it as well across your firm?

Other things that you can be looking at in terms of strategy, what are your fee models? How are your fee models currently serving you? How are they potentially not serving you or your clients? And what potential adjustments can you make? Especially in a professional services world where so much of what is done is through the billable hour, are there other ways that you can look at your fee models that serve your clients well, but maybe even also serve your staff well? I am seeing a lot out of burnout amongst staff and you might be experiencing that as well. So all of these things also taking a look at the lens of how can you use these tools and these ideas to also improve engagement on your staff, keep them with you, keep them going even through disruption and definitely some of these like tougher times?

Your strategy also thinks about things like top line and bottom line. What's our top line growth opportunity, but what is also the bottom line growth? I think smart growth balances both of those out. You might make a strategic decision to take on a new opportunity that challenges your firm because there is more strategic opportunity down the road. So you have to make those decisions about what you're doing on the top line and how it's impacting the bottom line. What are some of your markets, your core markets, maybe tangential markets? That's a really interesting growth place. If you are in a core market and let's say just for example, maybe your market's healthcare. You have a core healthcare market and maybe you have a couple of niches within inside healthcare. What are some other markets that are connected to the niches that you already have so that those can potentially represent growth opportunities for you? Lower potential opportunity costs will earn business in those tangential markets, but can also help you to grow.

What are your key impact clients? Who are your best clients that you do not want to or cannot lose? You want to keep them, you want to grow them. Who are potentially some clients are no longer a fit for where you are today or where you want to be in the future? And I have to tell you, this is probably one of the harder things to do. I completely understand and empathize with that as a professional services provider myself. And it takes some discipline and just some real desire and some commitment to say, we know that we have a subset of clients that are holding us back from growing. We need to figure out how to graciously handle those, still preserve a positive relationship, but they may not be a fit for where we want to be in the future.

And then lastly, what are some potential productive incentives for your professionals? We hear a lot about compensation, but what are maybe some other incentives for your professionals that make them want to stay and make them engaged? Because engaged professionals take care of our clients. So what are some productive incentives that you can be thinking about putting into your overall strategy?

All right. So this is going to bring us to our fourth poll question here. So we'll go ahead. Actually, take that back. I have one more slide before I get to the poll question. I was getting ahead of myself. Sorry about that. So the next pillar is the people pillar. And this is any role, think about your people, any role that has a client interaction contributes to your growth culture. It doesn't matter if they are in front of your clients right now face to face or virtually, or if they are in a back office supporting role. They all have responsibility for a client's interaction in some way and that's part of your growth culture. Leadership, sales professionals, account management, your marketing, your client success, your back office. If you look at your entire organization and you can even pinpoint where they have those interactions, they are contributing and making a difference.

I also look at the ecosystem outside of your organization. Who are the people outside of your organization that also can impact your ability to grow? Right? So these can be some of your strategic partners. These can be your referral sources. Mapping that ecosystem outside of your organization can be really incredible. What organizational design will best support your growth culture? I'm actually going through this exercise with a client right now. They're in a different industry, but it's the same challenges, right? They want to be able to grow smartly and they want to look at the organizational design of the teams that are client-facing. So I'm helping them work through that, helping them put together a process, helping them look at the org chart, if you will. So have you looked at your org chart and considered what design of your organization will best support your growth into the future?

So for those of you that have a strategy, either you're well on your way or you have one that's been implemented, this might be something to consider if you don't have that organizational design piece. Do your professionals and leaders have the skillsets and tools to succeed? What business development leadership skills do they have today? Have you assessed them? Do you know what skills from a business development standpoint are needed for them to grow into the future? And then lastly, are you investing in your future firm leaders by building their business development acumen? So these last two bullet points are definitely related. There are the broader leadership skills of strategic skills, then there's also the business development and business development acumen skills of your firm and of your professionals. All right, so now that brings us to our fourth poll question. So if we can go ahead and tee that up, please.

Nathan:

Thank you, Amy. That is launched. Once again, we'll leave that up for about a minute.

Amy Franko:

All right. So that question is whether or not you provide bill pay services for your clients. So we'll give you a moment. So I'll give you a minute to get that answered before we move on. And Diana, are there any questions that have come in through the chat?

Diana Tucci:

Amy, yes. So how can we become better at offering up new and innovative ideas to our clients or perspective clients?

Amy Franko:

So going back to my counterintuitive idea from before, there's the idea or the strategy of being able to provide these types of new ideas and just thought-provoking questions, but then there's the how of it, right? So what are some things you could be doing to actually formulate those ideas and then bring them to your clients? I would say a couple of things. Staying well-read. So for example, I actually traveled in-person last week, if you could believe it. And I was going to do some business development training for a client. And I had the Wall Street Journal with me and I was reading through that. And just by reading through that, I found two or three ideas and questions that I could bring to this client and actually use as part of the business development training because they were relevant to their particular industry and we could use them as discussion points.

So that's an example of staying well-read and then finding ways to connect what you're reading and seeing to how you can potentially help your clients be thinking differently. So I try to stay well-read in a variety of ways, obviously through business-oriented publications, but also if you have any other broader type of publications, things that you enjoy personally, you never know where an idea is going to strike you.

And then one other idea that I will offer up is connecting your clients and potential clients to resources, ideas, and other people. Leveraging your network and making introductions is another great way to help your clients expand their thinking and you get to be the connection point with that. So those are two ideas to at least get people started on how you can bring new ideas and put a little bit of a few tactics behind it, if you will.

All right. So it looks like we have closed out poll question number four. And I don't know if... Diana, were there any other questions from the chat that came in before I go ahead and move on?

Diana Tucci:

Not at this time.

Amy Franko:

Okay, great. I have two more pillars for you. So the next pillar we're going to cover is process. So we've talked about strategy, we've talked about people, and now we have talked about process. Thinking through what processes are needed to support growth culture? So I will give you a couple of examples from a business development standpoint just to get you thinking. So, again, most of the firms that I work with, not all, they are maybe a little bit newer on the journey of business developments or having very formal processes in place, if you will. And there tends to be three things that I find to be what firms need to have good foundation around process.

So the first is, this is going to lead between process and technology. The first is having a customer relationship management tool. If you've spent any time with me, I have probably shared this in the past, but having a customer relationship management tool is both a technology tool and a process that can help you support your growth culture. So do you have one and are you using it regularly? The second is having a business development process in place. Do you have a step by step structure that your teams can go through, whether they are a marketing professional or maybe they are a tax professional, audit professional, whatever they happen to be, but following the same process and speaking the same language when it comes to business development. I like to think of process as a staircase. It's the step by step that you go through from being introduced to someone all the way through uncovering a need, maybe writing a proposal or presenting a proposal and then hopefully earning the business. So that's just an example of process.

And then the last piece is what I think of as business development methodology. What are the tools and strategies that you pull from that aren't always linear in nature but support your processes to help you be successful? So I offer that up as just one example of a number of processes, and there are probably some others that are specific to your industry or your firm as well. And remember that any change in your process ecosystem, it creates change downstream. Monitoring for unintended consequences of tweaking process is really important to do as well. So if you're introducing something new, really challenging yourselves to think about what might be an unintended consequence of this process and who might be involved in educating us about making sure that all of the consequences, as many as possible are positive consequences?

Another process is the life cycle of your professionals, recruiting your professionals, onboarding your professionals, offboarding your professionals. Process around that helps tremendously. And I think there's a lot of movement in professional services firms right now. So you just never know when a professional may leave and they may want to potentially come back, right? So how formal are your processes around the recruiting, the onboarding, the life cycle, and then the offboarding of those professionals? I've already talked about business development process and methodology, so I won't spend any more time on that.

Other processes might be around assessments and skill development. It can be leadership development, it can be business development, it can be technical expertise, but how rigorous are your processes around assessing your team and developing their skills? Again, this all contributes to growth strategy. It contributes to the growth of your professionals, which in turn contributes to the growth of your firm and the growth of your clients.

Do you have metrics and accountabilities in place? So these are some other processes to be thinking about. And again, this can be across your firm, whether it's business development related, it's technically related, it's leadership related. Compensation. Do you have processes around compensation? Do you have processes around coaching? So these are some process areas to be considering. And if you can think of any more, you are welcome to pop them into the chat. There might be some that I don't have on my list, but that you are seeing in your firm or in your industry. So I would welcome you sharing that as well.

All right, I have one more pillar for us to cover, and this is the technology pillar. You can't have a growth strategy without a technology conversation, right? So what technology and tools are needed to support your growth into the future? Okay. So you're probably looking at a lot of different technology tools across your organization. I'm going to use from a business development standpoint just to give you a little bit of a flavor here, but the average number of business development tools that organizations use is five. So that's just in one area. You probably have other tools that you're using across your firm, and really thinking about strategically, which ones are needed to support growth culture and which ones maybe they were useful at some point in time or they were something that you tried as an experiment, but maybe you didn't get the results that you were looking for. You want to strategically consider offboarding those so that your professionals can really be focused on using the tools that are going to make them the most efficient and the most effective.

I saw statistic recently, or someone shared a statistic with me that we can spend up to a third of our day just in email. And you might be nodding your head along with me on that. I know. There have been many a day where I've spent a third of my day in the email. So that's just one example of where we might be spending a lot of our time in a tool that has use, but we might be spending too much time in it. The average spend on some of these tools is approximately $150 a month per professional. So it's not only a time investment, there's also a big financial investment. And are these tools supporting your growth? Do you need to... If yes, then you can continue to use them and master them and then offboard the ones that aren't.

I'm a big believer that any tool that you use has to enable strategy, people, and process and can't become a distraction for you. When it comes to growth, if I'm looking just at growth and bringing new clients in, growing the clients that you have, mastery of a customer relationship management tool is really critical. That's where your source of good client data comes with opportunities, whether it's something that's brand new for you or the opportunity to grow a client.

Another one is the mastery of video. Are you mastering video in all its forms, whether it's a new relationship that you're building, or maybe you are conducting reviews with the client? A lot of what we're doing right now is still virtual and will continue to be virtual. Clients will start to have preference for staying virtual. Some of your clients will anyway. So mastering video as a tech tool will become very important. So if I can give a place to start with those from a business development and growth standpoint, those are two. All right, so let me bring us to our last poll question here, poll question number five. So if we can get that teed up.

Nathan:

Thank you, Amy. That was launched. Give everybody about a minute.

Amy Franko:

Absolutely. Give you a moment to answer that. And while we are doing that, let's see what other questions may have come in.

Diana Tucci:

Which of the four pillars do you recommend we begin with?

Amy Franko:

That's a good question. So I'm going to go back to the poll question where you all answered your level of having strategy implemented in your firm. So for those of you that have a mature strategy and you are well on your way, where I would start is with a strategy pillar and doing a strategy review. So which pieces of your growth strategy are currently working well for you? Maybe some of the questions that I asked or some of the areas, where do you maybe have some gaps that you could fill in? So if you're mature on the path, I would start with that strategy.

If you are maybe a little bit newer to that process or you're considering it, what I would do is take all four of those pillars and just get them out maybe onto a whiteboard. You could do this just as a team exercise. You can get this onto a whiteboard and as a team start brainstorming some of the things that would fall into each of those pillars for your firm. So what would fall into strategy? What would fall into people, process, or technology? So I would start there to just get a brain dump, if you will, of all the things that are out there.

And then where I would start, I would start with your process. So toning in on some of the processes that you have, because if you can look at the processes that you have that are still working, then you can amplify those. And then looking at the processes that maybe aren't serving you as well, you can start to either offboard those processes or find ways to improve them. So I would start in on your process, which may sound a little counterintuitive to not start with strategy, but if you are a little bit newer to doing all of this, that can start to give you a track to run on and to see some of quicker wins, if you will, while you're putting together your larger strategy.

All right. So we've answered all five poll questions. We have gone through all of the pillars. And so let's see, Diana, if there are any other questions that have come in or maybe any comments in the chat.

Diana Tucci:

So what are some of the technology and tools that you are using?

Amy Franko:

Yeah, so I'll share with you some of my tech tools. Now, again, I'm a smaller organization. So some of the tools that I'm using may not necessarily be a fit if you're a larger firm, but I would say first and foremost, from a customer relationship management tool process, I use a CRM called Nimble. There are some other ones out there. Pipedrive is out there. I would consider those tools to be for your small to midsize organizations. For those of you at firms that are maybe larger in size, you might consider one of the larger tools like Salesforce, or you might already have Salesforce in place.

I also from just a day-to-day management of my day, I use a tool, this is a productivity hack, I use a tool called Todoist. And I'll spell it for you. It's T-O-D-O-I-S-T. I use it to manage my client deliverables and all of the to-dos there. So that helps me get some of that stuff out of my head and onto paper. That's probably more of an individual productivity hack, but still something, if you're looking for ways to become more efficient, that might be one that serves you. So those are just a couple that come to mind. Any other questions out there?

Diana Tucci:

So just backtracking a bit, what are some things you're seeing firms implement when it comes to digital transformation?

Amy Franko:

Yes, the digital transformation question's a big one. So, again, this is going to be a little bit dependent on firm size. I would say a lot of firms are doing things like webinars. They are doing a lot of things in the tech realm. And I see the opportunity is to be creative with it because we can tend to look a lot like everybody else, right? But I would say the pillars of some digital transformation is unique thought leadership, leveraging specific social channels. So for example, you might be leveraging LinkedIn, but leveraging social channels. And also, I would say the digital concierge service. So using a tool like bill.com in addition to that kind of white glove concierge type of service where you combine digital transformation, but you still have that personal touch that allows your clients to still get that level of service that you're wanting to provide. So I would say that those are some pillars or some categories that I'm seeing some digital transformation in.

Diana Tucci:

Great. Thanks, Amy. That's all the questions I have right now.

Amy Franko:

All right. So I think maybe to start wrapping up this conversation, I covered a number of tools or pillars. So as you're looking at your growth strategy, really taking into account how can you not only provide world-class service, but look at ways to specifically grow by providing new ideas to your clients and prospects and using that as a springboard for finding new opportunities. From a strategic standpoint, putting a strategy in place, your growth strategy, with those pillars that cover your strategic planning, covers your people, covers your process, and covers your technology. You can hone in on those four pillars, you are going to have a really, really solid growth strategy plan, but in turn, it's also going to help you create the right growth culture so that you're pursuing the right clients, you're pursuing the right opportunities, and you're really growing in a way that, as I mentioned before, it's meaningful, it's sustainable, and it's profitable. So I hope that this provided you with some ideas to be able to do that today.

So from here, we have our next session with Jason Blumer, who many of you probably know, and he's going to be covering the efficient creation of firm roles that scale. So that's coming up September 2nd at 11:00 AM Pacific Time. So with that, Diana, I will go ahead and turn it back over to you for any final housekeeping or anything else that we want to cover.

Diana Tucci:

Thank you so much, Amy. That was an amazing presentation. We always enjoy having you. And I think that's it for me. So back over to you, Nathan.

Nathan:

Diana, thank you so much. Big thank you to bill.com for sponsoring today's session. And of course, thank you so much to Amy. Another fantastic webinar. Always a pleasure having you here. To our audience, thank you so much for attending. We'll do our best to get your CPE processed a little later today. You should see it in your account by tomorrow. We also recorded this session and we'll send you the archive link a little bit later as well. Thanks so much everyone. Hope to see you all at future webinars.