Let's say you have a client who knows someone with a serious problem that can really use your help, but asking you to call is off the table because the situation is delicate. They need to make a sincere, compelling case that you can help them. Is your client up to the task?
If not, can you prepare your clients ahead of time? Hey, we are talking about accounting here! What possible delicate situation has your client walking on eggshells?
Here are a few:
- Divorce – It’s a messy one. Everyone takes sides. The accountant is a former classmate of the soon to be ex. Your client knows this injured party. They need a new accountant.
- Neglect – It’s hard to believe, but there are some people who deliberately ignore filing taxes. Now this friend is getting letters, levies and garnishments.
- Grief – Your friend knows an older widow. For years their spouse handled all the family finances. Then they died. This survivor has never paid a bill or managed a budget.
These are all touchy situations and, as such your client can’t just say: “Call my friend.” They’ve got to lay the groundwork first.
Here are a several ways to get your client ready for these types of conversations and, ultimately better communicate how you can help:
- Review Your Capabilities – You do more than prepare taxes. Does your client know that? Assuming you meet with clients at least annually, do a “State of the Union” in the context of how the two of you work together. They know what you prepare for them to sign, but what do you do in the background? Have you learned about changes in tax law, even if these provisions don’t apply to them? Spell out some additional, anonymous scenarios using a “Here’s the type of people I may be able to help” approach.
- Have a Problem, Get a Partner – The above step might prepare your client to have the: “I’ve got a guy…” conversation with their friend. It’s more likely your client will call you ahead of time to describe the friend’s dilemma, asking if you can help. Now it’s time for you to initiate the meeting through your friend. You want to meet the person with a problem face to face, to avoid any miscommunication or overpromising. See if they would be willing to bring the three of you together over drinks. Your client can tactfully disappear once the friend starts talking about their problem.