IPA Partner Spotlight On…Lisa Cines A New Direction For An IPA ‘Best Of The Best’ MP

Lisa_CinesRockville, Md.-based Aronson & Co. (FY09 net revenue of $58.7 million) believes so strongly in its new strategic business model – that it is asking its longtime MP to personally oversee the change.

The business model calls for using a technically savvy professional sales staff to increase market share. On June 1, Lisa Cines, MP for nine years, will become officer in charge of business and corporate development – a unique title in the profession. Jeffery Capron, who heads the firm’s diversified commercial services group, will become the new MP.

“What we have done over the past couple of years is put in place a professional sales force to augment the needs of the partners,” Cines says. “I will focus on three areas: staff development, client service and technical issues.”

By hiring a staff of professional sales people familiar with the profession, and focusing on the use of social media tools such as LinkedIn and blogs, Cines says Aronson hopes to continue the growth that led to it being named to IPA’s Top 50 firms in 2009.

“We’re seeing a rapid shift in the way [firms] do business, and traditional marketing and sales methods aren’t going to be enough to drive real growth,” she says. “We’re exploring unique and innovative tactics to cultivate and capture new business.”

As Cines takes on her new role, the firm hopes to capitalize on her 27 years of knowledge – including a stint in Aronson’s government and technology group. Cines plans to help the sales staff network with the right people in the firm’s various industry client groups.

“As one of the D.C. metro-area’s few remaining independent, middle-market firms, we’re going to aggressively exploit our deep expertise to capture significant market share in each of the industries we serve,” she says. In addition to her close scrutiny of the sales team, Cines believes the firm can grow in the long term using multiple blogs and networking via LinkedIn.

Currently, the firm has three blogs: Aronson Diversified Commercial Report, Aronson Fed Point and Aronson Nonprofit Report (www.aronsonblogs.com). The blogs, written by members of those three industry groups as well as partners, are used to inform clients and potential clients about developments in such areas as tax, litigation and government.

Cines plans to make better use of two online tools as part of the new strategy: the social media site LinkedIn and Salesforce.com. Through accounts on LinkedIn, the firm plans to reach out to current and potential clients, which will include attending networking events.

Salesforce.com, the online customer relations management company, has the tools that will allow Cines to manage the sales staff. “I want us to have a broader adoption of Salesforce.com, which includes how we are tracking referral sources,” she says. “With their service, I can tell what’s in our pipeline, our win ratio, our sales ratio, which sales people sold what and which partners sold what.”

The change in strategy may excite Cines, but she admits it took a little bit of selling to her staff to make it work. “Sometimes the staff gets a little intimidated.” While some of her most successful sales people and associates have said in the past that they would never buy into the new strategy of using technology as a marketing tool, they have started to come around. Her plan is to start the sales team out in general accounting and then have them become “industry articulate” by using the online tools.

The advice Cines gives to others thinking of adopting a similar strategy is that having an in-house professional development person builds a team mentality. “By having such a person in place, that person really manages the development as part of the sales process,” she says. “Those people are team developers. Don’t discount the power of that.”