In our ongoing pursuit of understanding how culture impacts sales organizations within the realm of accounting firms, we had the privilege of engaging in a conversation with Mark Burnette from LBMC. As part of the LBMC team, we gained valuable insights into the firm’s innovative approach to sales and growth, particularly in the advisory & cybersecurity sector. In this article, we’ll delve into the key takeaways from our conversation, highlighting Mark’s & LBMC journey towards building a successful sales organization.
LBMC: A Hub of Organic Growth
As a prominent top 40 CPA firm based in Nashville, LBMC stands out for its remarkable commitment to organic growth. With a foundation rooted in audit, tax, and advisory services, LBMC’s evolution over the years has been marked by robust advisory services initiatives. This unique blend of services has positioned LBMC as a framework for the modern accounting firm.
Mark Burnette’s Journey: Industry to Consulting
Mark Burnette, Practice Leader of Advisory Services at LBMC, brings a wealth of experience from both industry and consulting realms, with a notable background in cybersecurity. Having worked in cybersecurity for more than fifteen years before joining LBMC, including roles such as Chief Information Security Officer, Mark’s expertise catalyzed LBMC’s expansion into this critical domain. His unique perspective shaped the firm’s approach to building a thriving advisory practice, marked by unconventional competition and creative strategies.
Navigating Unconventional Competition
LBMC’s venture into cybersecurity services revealed a surprising competitive landscape. Beyond traditional CPA firms, the cybersecurity practice found itself competing with boutique cyber firms and technology companies. These competitors, driven by diverse motivations such as private equity funding or promotional tactics, posed distinct challenges. This realization prompted LBMC to reevaluate its business model and implement a differentiation strategy.
Innovative Approach: Focused Business Development
LBMC’s innovative response to these challenges involved the creation of a dedicated Business Development (BD) team within the firm’s cybersecurity practice. Unlike the conventional model, where a salesperson is tasked with selling all of a firm’s services to any potential buyer, LBMC’s approach focused specific BD professionals on selling only cybersecurity services. This strategic initiative allowed the sales professionals to tailor their sales tactics and messaging to specific buyer personas, greatly increasing the success of the salesforce and driving outstanding revenue growth in LBMC’s cybersecurity practice.
The Role of Buyer Personas in Sales
The creation of buyer personas emerged as a pivotal strategy for LBMC’s sales success. Recognizing the importance of personalization, the BD team focused on understanding the needs, challenges, and aspirations of their target clients and the typical buyers of cybersecurity services. By aligning sales efforts with buyer personas, LBMC enhanced its ability to provide tailored solutions, resulting in more effective communication and conversions, and increasing the firm’s win rate.
Driving Cultural Shifts for Sales Excellence
The sales culture evolution at LBMC has been driven by a keen understanding of today’s work environment. As LBMC embraced hybrid and flexible work models within the firm, the importance of in-person interactions was emphasized in sales efforts. This understanding led to a balanced approach to client and prospect discussions, combining virtual interactions with strategic in-person engagements. The approach focused on building trust, a critical factor in a relationship-driven field like cybersecurity, through client service managers.
Empowering Growth Directors for Success
LBMC’s innovative sales approach also involved the introduction of Growth Directors, responsible for pursuing new client relationships. These directors represent LBMC in industry events, conferences, and local markets, continuing to focus on buyer personas. This expansion of the firm’s sales team allows for enhanced visibility and outreach, while also promoting collaboration with service line shareholders, increasing LBMC’s pipeline of opportunities.
Achieving Synergy: Sales and Client Service
A harmonious collaboration between sales teams and client service professionals emerged as a defining feature of LBMC’s success. By providing targeted business development efforts via experienced sales professionals, LBMC ensured that its subject matter experts could focus on delivering excellence to clients while supporting the sales team. This collaborative approach has resulted in increased capacity for both sales and client service functions, a win-win scenario that strengthens the organization’s growth trajectory.
Conclusion: An Ongoing Evolution
In closing, our conversation with Mark Burnette at LBMC shed light on an innovative approach to mastering sales efforts within CPA and advisory firms. LBMC’s journey is marked by a willingness to adapt, challenge conventions, and foster a culture of growth. As the business landscape evolves, LBMC’s experience reminds us that success in sales requires a strategic blend of personalized outreach, buyer persona understanding, and collaboration between sales and service teams. We’re grateful to Mark for sharing these insights, and we look forward to witnessing LBMC’s continued success.
Interested in watching the full interview? You check out David Toth’s full discussion with Mark Burnette below.