Paving the way to your success: How does your firm stack up?

Jay Abraham, CEO, The Abraham GroupThis is the second in a series of posts from Jay Abraham, one of the world’s leading business and marketing gurus. As Founder and CEO of Abraham Group, Inc., Jay has spent his entire career solving problems and fixing businesses. He has significantly increased the bottom lines of over 10,000 clients in more than 400 industries worldwide. 

All of the content in this Paving the Way To Your Success series is  brought to you exclusively by AccountantsWorld, as part of our ongoing mission to help you maximize the value and relevance of your accounting firm.

In this post, Jay guides you through a detailed self-assessment of how your firm stacks up right now. Click here to read the full series so far.


Dear Accountant:

A lot of people fixate on the abstract concept of trying to work “on” their accounting firm, instead of “in” it.  I’m a more direct and logical thinker.  I’ve always tried to figure out how to get a firm to work harder for its owner than he or she worked for it.  A simple difference perhaps.  But a major difference, nonetheless.

With my driving thought always being how many ways I can help get your CPA firm working harder and better for you — I’ve created an 87-question, self-diagnostic assessment test called “How Do You And Your Firm Stack Up?”  It asks some very straightforward, (yet highly revealing) questions designed to instantly detect whether or not your firm could — and should — be working harder and more profitably for you — And if so, precisely where you have the most room for improvement.

It’s the perfect grounding and preparatory orientation to help you gain maximum insight, benefit and value out of the time we’ll be spending together throughout this series of blogs.

I invite you to sit down right now and go through the 87 questions on this test — the answers and their business/financial implications to you will be self-evident.  Once you’ve completed all 87 questions, see where you stand (see self-diagnostic interpretation section at the end).

It’s a shame to see promising CPA firms under-perform their capability to deliver more income, certainty, profits and wealth to their owners — if it’s easily doable.  Frequently, merely shifting the marketing you do, the strategy you follow and/or the money-making system you implement can double, re-double and even re-double — again — the income and profits your firm delivers to you.

I created this self-diagnostic assessment test to see whether or not your firm could be — and should be — delivering more pay-off for you. 

I am excited that you are working on building up your firm!


Jay L. Abraham


How Do You and Your Firm Stack Up?


Self-Diagnostic Assessment Test


Here are the 87 questions to answer. Be candid with yourself; since you alone will know the exact answers and their profit implications.


1.)       How many different selling methods do you currently do/use?

            ______One (1 pt) _______ 2-4 (2pts) _______ 5 or more (3 pts)


2.)       How many new potential selling methods have you tested in the last 12 months?

            _______None (0) _______ One (1) ________2-4 (2) _______ 5 or more (4)


3.)       Do you have a keen handle on all your marginal net worth factors for all three ways to grow clients and for each segment of separate product line you market?

           _______No (0) _______ A Few (1) _______ Most (2) _______ All (4)


4.)       How many formalized, referral generating systems do you have working right now that everyone in your firm with Buyer Contacts uses and follows?

            _______ None (0) _______One (1) _______ 2-5 (2) _______6 or more (4)


5.)       Is your accounting firm being marketed tactically or strategically?

            _______ Tactically (0) _______ Strategically (2)


6.)       Do you have a powerful USP that comes across to the market you target as being the only viable solution to a problem they have that you alone verbalized for them or an opportunity you alone identified?

            _______No (0) _______Yes (2)


7.)       Do you know what your attrition rate is and why they stop buying from you?

            _______No (0) _______Partially (1) _______ Yes, in both cases (3)


8.)       Do you have attrition reduction or client conservation programs in place to minimize inactive buyers?

            _______No (0) _______Yes (2)


9.)       Do you have comprehensive databases of your prospects and buyers that identifies everything from names, contact numbers, type of buying, what they buy, what they didn’t buy, where they originated from, quantities of past purchases, etc.

            _______ No (0) _______ Partial (1) _______ Yes On All Issues (3)


10.)    Do you actively use all the data above to target different categories of prospects/buyers in different ways for different products or services?

            _______No (0)_______Yes (3)


11.)    Do you know exactly where all (or at least most) of your business is coming from and how to stimulate more people from those specific sources to purchase from you? 

            _______No (0)_______Yes (2)


12.)    Do you know where your biggest source of untapped new business is and how to ultimately mine it?

            _______No (0) _______ Yes (2)


13.)    Does at least 25% of your business currently come from referrals?

            _______ No (0) _______Yes (2)


14.)    Is the average number of referrals you get every month going up or down?  Growing or dropping?

            ______ Down/Dropping (0)   ______Up/Growing (2)


15.)    Do you have a reliable system of collecting and creating client testimonials and success stories?

            _______ No (0) _______ Yes (2)


16.)    If “yes,” how many client testimonials and success stories do you have?

            _______ 1-5 (1) _______ 6-10 (2) _______ 11-20 (3) _______ 21 & over (4)


17.)    Do you effectively and powerfully use your testimonials in all the marketing, advertising and sales efforts you do?

            _______ No (0)  _______ Sometimes (1)   _______Yes, always (3)


18.)    Do you have respected people in your field, market, industry who unhedgingly endorse you and your firm?

            _______ No (0) _______ Yes (2)


19.)    How many endorsements do you have?

            _______ None (0) ________ 1-3 (1)   _______ 4-9 (2)   _______10 or above (3)


20.)    Do you have a continuous system/approach program actively in place to continually secure more prominent endorsements?

            _______ No (0) _______ Yes (2)


21.)    Do you have any joint ventures/host beneficiary relationships actively in place right now?

            _______ No (0) _______ Yes (2)


22.)    If “yes,” how many joint ventures/host beneficiary relationships are you currently doing promotions with right now?

            _______ One (1) _______ 2-5 (2) _______ 6-10 (3) _______ 10 or more (4)


23.)    Are you adding host beneficiary endorsements (i.e., complementary businesses, publications, associations) to your marketing mix every quarter?

            _______ No (0) _______ Yes (2)


24.)    If “yes,” how many (on average) are you adding to your marketing mix every quarter?

            _______ 1 (1) ______ 2-3 (2) _______ 4-9 (3) _______ 10 or more (4)


25.)    Do you repeatedly test headlines or their equivalent (i.e., opening sentence of your presentations, phone-in sales calls, telemarketing scripts, greeting at trade shows, etc.)?

            ______ No (0) _______ Yes (2)


26.)    If “yes,” how many different headlines or equivalent have you successfully tested in the last 12 months?

            _______ 1 (1) _______ 2-9 (2) ________ 10-20 (3) _______ 21 or more (4)


27.)    Do you have a systematic, ongoing follow-up system you follow and put into action for every prospect and first time buyer you acquire?

            _______ No (0) _______ Yes (2)


28.)    How often do you follow up to past buyers/clients by phone, mail, e-mail or in-person?

            _____ Never  (0) _____ Once Every Six Months (1)   _____ Once A Quarter (2)

            _____ More Often (3)


29.)    Do you know your allowable cost of acquiring a new prospect and/or clients and if “yes,” do you invest up to that amount in your marketing efforts to acquire new buyers?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


30.)    Do you have a progressive backend; meaning, you keep logically either reselling clients ongoing quantities of your basic products/services or you keep adding new additional backend products or services to the sales cycle.

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


31.)    If yes, how many different progressive, backend products do you offer?

            _____ 1-2 (1)  _____ 3-9 (2)   _____ 10 or More (3)


32.)    Do you spend more of your time on marketing or managing?

            _____ Never (0) _____ Once Every Six Months (1)  _____ Once A Quarter (2)

            _____ More (3)


33.)    Do you believe Peter Drucker’s quote that marketing and innovation are the two things that create customers and profits; everything else is an expense?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


34.)    Do you use risk reversal to close sales and differentiate your firm from your competitors?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


35.)    If yes, how many different ways have you tested reversing the risk?

            _____ None (0) _____ 1 (1)   _____ 2-4 (2)   _____ 5 or More (3)


36.)    How many of these key, marketing factors do you regularly test?

            _____ Nothing (0) _____ Just Headlines (1)  _____ Headlines, Offers (2)

            _____ Headlines, Offers and Guarantees/Risk Reversals (3)


37.)    Do you offer bonuses (either tangible or intangible) as an incentive to purchase your product or service now?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


38.)    How much of a difference have your tests made on either your results/response/profit?

            _____ Less than10% Improvement (1)   _____ 11-30% (2)          _____ 31-50% (3) 

            ______ 51-99% (4) _____ 100% (double) or Higher (5)


39.)    Do you do PR/media relationships/radio/newspaper/magazine interviews?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


40.)    Do you use the results of these activities in excerpts or reproductions as part of your marketing?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


41.)    Do you write articles, special reports or a book(s) you use for promotional positioning?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


42.)    Do you have a prime prospect list or lists you market to by either direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing, catalog or sales personnel?

            _____ No  (0) _____ Yes (2)


43.)    Do you know what your return on investment is for Lead/Prospect Generating, Lead Generating and Sales Conversion and/or Reselling Buyers?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


44.)    Do you have a continuous way to build a growing prospect/client e-mail list?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


45.)    How often do you send quality e-mails out that provide a benefit to your clients and/or prospects?

            ______ Never (0)    ______ Infrequently (1)          ______ Quarterly (2)

            ______ Monthly or More (3)


46.)    Are your e-mails, educational/contact-based and not merely self-serving?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


47.)    Do you have a direct response-formatted website that is built around my marketing principles?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


48.)    Do you do effective (meaning successful at both attracting and then converting) search engine optimization that builds more prospects, buyers, business?

            _____ No  (0) _____ Yes (2)


49.)    Do you have a Power Parthenon of different marketing activities in place where prospects/clients/revenue flow in from multiple profit pillars/streams? If yes, how many pillars in your Power Parthenon?

            _____ 2 (1) _____ 3-5 (2)   _____ 6-8 (3)  _____ 9 or More (4)


50.)    Do you have a target prospect list of strategic partners – i.e., companies that either already have a strong relationship with the same people you want to sell–or new, competitive organizations that have more to gain then even you do by seeing you sell your product/service to more people/companies.

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


51.)    If “yes,” how many prospective, new “strategic partner” companies (with complete contact data) are there on that list?

            ____ 1-5 (1) ____ 6-10 (2) ____ 11-20 (3) ____ 21-50 (4) ____ 51 and Over (5)


52.)    Have you and all your people who have contact with your prospects/buyers had formalized strategic consultative/advisory sales training?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


53.)    If yes, how often do you retrain and advance their skills in this all-important revenue-generating factor?

            ____ Never Again (0) ____ Yearly or Longer (1) ____ Every Six Months (2) ____ Monthly (3)


54.)    How many competitive advantages have you created for your business?

            _____ None (0) _____ One (1) _____ 2-5 (2) _____ 6 or More (3)


55.)    Do you have successful ways to acquire new clients/buyers at a breakeven and that makes your real profit on the backend?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


56.)    If “yes,” how many different approaches do you use?

            _____ One (1) _____ 2-3 (2) _____ 4 or More (3)


57.)    Do you regularly educate and update your prospects and clients?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


58.)    How many prospect lists have you located and use that better target your best-defined prospects?

            ____ None (0) ____ One (1) ____ 2-5 (2) ____ 6-10 (3) ____11 or More (4)


59.)    Do you really think your marketing makes irresistible offers to your prospects?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


60.)    If “no,” how many ways can you come up with right now to strengthen the appeal, attractiveness, effectiveness of your sales, advertising, promotional offers and propositions?

            _____ One (1) _____ 2-5 (2) _____ 6-10 (3) _____ More than 10 (4)


61.)    How many more complementary (up-sell/cross-sell) products/services do you currently add to your sales proposition?

            _____ None (0)  _____ One (1)   _____ 2-5 (2)   _____ 6 or More (3)


62.)    Do you offer buyers greater/larger units/quality product to increase the size of each sale?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


63.)    If “no,” how many possibilities can you come up with right now for doing this?

            _____ None (0) _____ One (1) _____ 2-5 (2)   _____ 6 or More (3)


64.)    Do you endorse or do joint ventures with other companies to sell THEIR products/service to YOUR buyers and prospects?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


65.)    Do you hold, run, or do special events such as seminars, new product introductions, end of year promotions, close out promotion, private sales, meet the management events, meet the manufacturer events, meet the creator-type events, etc.?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


66.)    Do you ethically (but effectively) prepare buyers from their very first purchasing experience with you to keep coming back to purchase over and over again?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


67.)    Do YOU personally talk to your buyers, prospects, and clients regularly to learn what they want and then build a relationship with them?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


68.)    Do you regularly shop/buy from your competitors to see what they do differently or are doing that your company doesn’t do?

            _____ No (0) _____ Yes (2)


69.)    There are between 15 and 30 key impact or leverage points that can positively increase your firms’ sales/profit performance. How many have you identified?

            ____ None (0)  ____ 1-5 (1)   ____ 6-10 (2)   ____ 11-20 (3)   ____ Over 20 (4)


70.)    Do you have a written marketing strategy and tactical implementation plan you continuously apply and follow?

            _____ No (0)  _____ Yes (2)


71.)    If “yes,” do you regularly monitor and measure results and performance of every element of that plan and adjust, replace, improve areas or activities whenever performance drops or does not exceed specific targeted benchmarks you’ve established?

         _____ No (0)  _____ Sometimes (1)   _____ Yes, Always (2)


72.)    Do you have a complete e-mail marketing strategy you constantly adhere to, implement and follow?

         _____ No (0)  _____ Yes (2)


73.)    Do you study the success approaches other companies use that can be adapted and adopted by you?

         _____ No (0)  _____ Yes (2)


74.)    If “yes,” do you regularly (at least once a quarter or more) pick approaches you want to try out and then actually test them to see if they perform better than the approach(es) you are currently using?

         _____ No (0)  _____ Yes (2)


75.)    Does your marketing, sales approaches and advertising activities focus on benefits or features?

         _____ Features (1)  _____ Benefits (2)


76.)    Do you know the top five reasons why prospects don’t buy from you?

         _____ No (0)  _____ Yes (2)


77.)    Do you have a compelling and persuasive way to overcome each of those five objections or resistance points?

         _____ No (0)  _____ Yes (2)


78.)    Do you really know what your business ideology is and can you explain it in a paragraph or less?

         _____ No (0)  _____ Yes (2)


79.)    Do you know all of the marketing assets (both tangible and intangible) your firm has available to it?

         _____ No (0)  _____ Yes (2)


80.)    Have you identified all the different revenue-generating activities your firm is engaged in doing so you can start improving and maximizing each one?

         _____ No (0)  _____ Yes (2)


81.)    How often do you invest time, effort and committed focus to learn better ways to improve the sales, marketing, profit and/or competitive performance of your CPA firm?

            ____ Never (0) ____ Once a year (1) ____ Twice a year (2) ____ Constantly (3)


82.)    How much of my three ways to grow a business model and its 32 key revenue drivers are you currently applying?

            ____ None (0)  ____ Very Little (1)  ____ About One-Third (2)  ____ Most (3)


83.)    Are you effectively applying the strategy of Pre-Eminence to all your sales, marketing, promotional and prospect/client communication?

            _____ No (0) _____ Sometimes (1) _____ Yes, Always (2)


84.)    Do you really know and can you clearly verbalize what your business’ biggest marketing problem is?

            _____ No (0) _____ Unsure (1) _____ Yes, Absolutely (2)


85.)    Do you know what the biggest untapped sales or marketing opportunity your firm has available to it and can you state it clearly?

         _____ No (0)  _____ Yes (2)


86.)    Do you know what areas of your marketing your firm is weak, poor or ineffectual at doing, i.e., prospecting follow-up, converting, re-selling, referrals, etc.?

         _____ No (0)  _____ Yes (2)


87.)    Do you know where your firms’ biggest growth or profit opportunity lies?

         _____ No (0)  _____ Yes (2)



The “Key” For Interpreting Your Answers

Now that you’ve completed answering all the questions in this assessment test, here’s how to see what it all means to you. 

Tally up all the points your answers represent by calculating the point status of each answer you’ve given (use the number in parentheses following each response).  Once you get your combined total, here’s what it tells you . . .

a)    If your total points equal 59 or less, it tells you that your marketing is very weak, your opportunity for growth and greater profitability with a better marketing strategy to follow is almost assured.  You are probably realizing less than 15% of your real business/financial/marketing potential.

b)    If your total points equal 60 to 193, you’re marketing at a decent level; but your firm has exceptional room for improvement.  You can probably increase your overall performance by 80% or more merely by better understanding and applying the marketing opportunities you have available.

c)     If your total points exceed 194 or higher, congratulations!  You’re a very fine marketer already and should feel good about where you’ve come, so far.  But, ironically, because YOU understand so well the real additional marketing opportunities available to your firm – your firm probably still has spectacular geometric growth possible if you decided to take your strategy and tactics to the highest performance levels possible. Nevertheless, I’m very proud of your level of success so far. 

Well done!

Simply by completing this questionnaire, you have placed yourself ahead of most of the CPA firms in the world – those who never take the time to think deeply about their firms, individuals (many of whom are your competitors) who spend so much time working “in” their accounting firms that they never take the time to work “on” their firms.

I’m thrilled to help guide you as you work on your firm. More guidance coming soon!



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