Which of these calls would YOU make to earn income and find work as a bookkeeper?
At first glance, making calls to potential clients and employers may seem incredibly daunting, but with the right techniques and a bit of practice you’ll become much more comfortable and increasingly productive for your bookkeeping business.
Pick Up The Phone and Share The Benefits
When you Start a Bookkeeping Business on selected packages with National Bookkeeping you’ll receive training and support to get introduced to potential referral partners and employers.
Making calls to potential clients who don’t know you is typically known as ‘cold calling’, however this description is slightly misleading. You already have something in common with every potential client—a shared understanding of the bookkeeping challenges faced by all business owners.
You are the solution to their problem. Think of each call in terms of how you can help them. For example:
Benefits for potential clients and employers
- Low cost—they can pay an hourly rate to an entry-level bookkeeper for simple tasks such as data entry instead of paying an expensive accountant or permanent bookkeeper.
- No commitment—they can hire contractors on an ‘as-needed’ basis.
- Efficient use of resources—staff members on a salary can be allocated to higher value projects.
Benefits for bookkeepers
- Increase your earning potential
- Gain hands-on experience
- Choose the jobs you want
- Spread the risk of unemployment by having multiple sources of income
Who Should You Call?
New sources of bookkeeping income can come from one or more of the following:
Accountants and BAS Agents
Approach them for contract bookkeeping work or referrals to clients.
Speak to trades and local businesses about low-cost solutions for BAS, reporting and data-entry tasks. Many small businesses fall behind with administrative tasks due to lack of time. Sole-traders in particular are trying to fulfil several roles within the organisation and immediate customer demands are always prioritised over admin obligations.
You don’t have to limit yourself to bookkeeping work either. Virtual assistant and online customer service roles can also generate additional income for contract bookkeepers.
Tutoring allows you to earn money by providing one-on-one support to students enrolled in bookkeeping courses. If you are an effective and confident communicator and you enjoy teaching, this could be a role for you.
Many job vacancies are filled before they are even advertised. Placing a call to the hiring manager or HR department of a company might just give you a head start over other candidates. Choosing your preferred company also allows you to plan your career progression and set goals for the future. Do your research before you call them and impress hirers with your knowledge of their business.
Note: Recruitment agencies: It may be worthwhile lodging your resumé with an agency that specialises in finance and accounting placements, however be wary of applying for positions that don’t name the hiring company. Some unscrupulous recruitment agencies only want to fill their database with jobs that don’t yet exist so that they can impress potential clients.
Be clear about what you want to achieve from the call before you pick up the phone. This will keep you focused on providing a solution instead of making a sale. You’ll project authenticity and professionalism, and you’ll feel more confident as a result.
Keep this list handy when you’re making calls:
- Who are you?
- What can you do for them?
See the sample script below for an example of how to introduce yourself.
Identify the decision maker
Save your spiel for the right person. Briefly describe your reason for calling and ask the receptionist who you should speak to.
Gather contact information
If the decision maker is unavailable, do not leave a message. Instead, ask for their name and email address so that you can contact them directly.
Most receptionists will appreciate the offer of an email as it means that they don’t need to try and explain the reason for your call. Otherwise, chances are that your key points will get lost in translation.
Obtain contract work
When you do manage to speak with the decision maker, identify opportunities for work by asking them about entry-level bookkeeping tasks and who is currently responsible for them.
Ask open-ended questions about their biggest challenges and what problems they would like to solve.
If an accountant or BAS agent doesn’t have any direct need for a contract bookkeeper, they may have clients who need help. Don’t be afraid to ask if they know anybody they could refer to you.
Provide a value add
Offer to send them something of value, such as a training manual or a worksheet. This not only softens the ‘salesy’ feel of the call, it gives you a reason to ask for their contact information and stay in touch.
How To Introduce Yourself
The most difficult part of making introductory calls is how to start. Once you’ve gotten over the first hurdle, the conversation will flow more freely.
More often than not your call will be answered by a receptionist or ‘gatekeeper’. It’s their job to screen all incoming calls and ascertain your reason for calling. You will only have a few seconds to explain yourself and convince them to let you speak with a decision maker. Although your call may not be put through this time, there is still an opportunity to gather valuable information that you can use to follow up or to offer something of value as a goodwill gesture.
Listen carefully for their name when they answer the phone—and use it.
Hi XXXX – My name is YYYY and I’m a new licensed bookkeeper working in the ZZZZ area.
I’m hoping to speak to somebody about ad hoc bookkeeping work—either in the form of client referrals or at a low-cost hourly rate.
Can you please advise me who would be the best person to speak to?
The Decision Makers
Hi XXXX, my name is YYYY and I’m a new licensed bookkeeper working in the ZZZZ area. I’m contacting you to see if you or your clients ever have a need for the services of a diligent and low-cost bookkeeper?
From this point and depending on the response, you can either ask more questions to better understand their needs, ask for a meeting, or offer to send something that will help them.
You may feel nervous making your first few calls, however once you practice and develop your own script you’ll become more comfortable with the process. It’s all a matter of mindset.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you are only trying to help them and do something positive – some accountants will be too small and do all the bookkeeping themsevles while others might already have a team of in-house bookkeepers who are on staff.
Be as objective as you can and try not to take rejection personally. Remember—every “no” brings you closer to a “yes”!
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