Name: Christopher J. Perrino
Title: Principal, Business Development
Years of Experience: 22
College Name & Degree: Thomas More University, Bachelor of Arts
Firm Name: Barnes Dennig
Firm City & State: Cincinnati, OH
Firm Size: 160 employees
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professional Memberships: AAM, AAM Business Development Committee, AAM Hall of Fame, Association for Corporate Growth
Twitter Handle: @chrisperrino
What types of business development strategies does your firm employ?
Our overarching approach is to be helpful by providing valuable info and ideas for the prospect: compensation studies, economic forecasts, seminar/webinar summaries, tax tips, etc. The goal is to provide a “test-drive” of how our people approach challenges and provide clients with perspective and advice. We want to position the firm as a resource so a relationship built on trust can be started or strengthened.
How has that changed during COVID-19?
COVID-19 significantly narrowed the list of items that keep clients and prospects “up at night.” As the lockdown started, companies kicked into survival mode and only had an appetite for details and insights on the FFCRA, CARES Act, PPP loans, etc. Based on this, we ramped up our blog posts in number and level of detail, hosted webinars on these topics, and formed a COVID-19 Advisory Team. During March, April, and much of May, our focus was on offering to help clients and prospects with the wide variety of questions they had about these federal programs.
What is the most immediate business need resulting from COVID?
PPP loan forgiveness questions and concerns are a major part of every discussion with clients and prospects. Worries about being audited by the feds or violating some picky codicil of the CARES Act are major issues, so our COVID-19 Advisory Team has been doing their best to restore peace of mind.
How are you engaging your new and existing relationships during COVID?
As mentioned above, we have been leading with essential and helpful insights and interpretations of FFCRA, CARES, and PPP. This info is in demand, and disseminating it without trying to overtly monetize it has built tremendous goodwill.
What is the most creative business development strategy you have implemented during COVID-19?
Our strategy of thought leadership for middle market companies with COVID-19 related legislation questions got a boost from our “PPP Loan Forgiveness Quick Test” on our website. Several hundred local and national companies took the test to gain insights on their case for loan forgiveness. This was the most innovative initiative that we launched.
What do you love most about business development?
I really enjoy learning about how companies operate, including things like how they approach the myriad of problems facing middle market business leaders: recruiting/retaining employees, competitive pressures, access to capital, market penetration, product development, integrating technology, healthcare cost containment, and on and on. I have heard hundreds of stories, and no two are exactly alike. I sort of think of it as earning an honorary MBA conferred by hundreds of CEOs and CFOs through discussions about their companies’ challenges and triumphs over the last 20+ years.
What are your special skills or what is something people may not know about you?
I think one of my special skills is to be almost as conversant about and experienced in accounting marketing as I am about business development in the accounting context. When I hear AAM conference topics related to the “marketing/business development disconnect,” I really can’t relate. They have always been two sides of the same coin for me.
What is the biggest benefit you receive from your AAM membership or what effect has AAM had on your career?
AAM has helped me immeasurably throughout my career. In the beginning, the annual AAM Summit helped me understand what accounting marketing and business development are all about – it built a strong foundation that I have been adding to ever since. I also enjoy the relationships I have built over 20+ years with incredible people like Brian Falony, Sally Glick, Mike Mattia, and so many others.
What do you feel is the biggest issue is facing the accounting industry today?
Technology is clearly the biggest issue facing the profession, especially for mid-size and small firms. Blockchain, AI, and all the rest are opportunities for those who grasp and comprehend their power, but may be significant threats for others.
What is the biggest project you are working on right now?
Currently, I am deep into working with our construction practice leaders to connect with prospects and share with them the results of our new compensation, benefits, and benchmarking study. The data is very helpful for construction leaders as they consider the path forward as their companies face an uncertain future.
If you had an unlimited budget, what is one thing you would implement immediately at your firm?
In-depth leadership development training for every employee at the firm. Learning how to boost your EQ, how to lead conversations with business owners, and other similar topics that would enhance the advisory skillset of our people would make us the firm of choice for clients and talent for years to come.
What books have you read recently that you feel would be beneficial to other AAM members?
I am currently reading “Virtual Selling” by Mike Schultz, Dave Shaby and Andy Springer of the Rain Group. Understanding the needs of prospects and developing viable solutions for them in the real world is tough enough. The virtual world makes the ability to connect on a personal and business level that much harder! The authors of this book have the pedigree to provide some workable answers to business developers and marketers alike.
Chris Perrino was interviewed by Irma Zaldivar.
About Irma Zaldivar
I have 16 years of experience in all aspects of marketing and business development and have been in the accounting marketing industry since June 2015. I worked at a very small accounting firm prior to joining BDO. I am passionate about marketing strategy. To know that I can play a role in a business' overall game plan for reaching potential buyers and turning them into customers is a very gratifying feeling. Currently, as a digital marketing manager, I am responsible for leading all new campaign requests from start to finish. For the past two years I've been the co-chair of the Association of Accounting Marketing (AAM) monthly newsletter, the AAM Minute. I've been involved with AAM since I started my career in accounting marketing five years ago and it's provided me a lot of great ideas to bring back to my team.