Accountants need new clients, but there’s a problem getting them. You don’t want to cold call or beat the bushes because you feel that cheapens the profession. Enter referrals. You are OK with adding new clients if a satisfied client sends them your way. How do you make that happen?
There Are Problems Ahead
In an ideal world, you would do nothing. Your hundreds of clients know lots of people. If the New York Times says the average American knows 600 people and you prepare taxes for 300 clients, there are 180,000 possible clients out there. If you had a 1 percent success rate, that’s 1,800 potentials.
But reality intrudes. Forty-three percent of Americans file their own taxes. Another 10.9 percent get a friend or family member to do it. Only 28.5 percent work with an accountant. Applied to the 1,800 above, that leaves 513 potentials.
Now comes the big problem: Few people shop around for accountants. Relocated executives and divorcees might. Most people stick with their accountant long-term, similar to their relationship with doctors, lawyers, and dentists. You all belong to the professional classes.
However, accountants retire, and practices change hands. People also have specialized needs not every accountant can handle. Others give up on doing their own taxes. You must be prepared.
Your Client is Agreeable. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Your client might love you, but often they can’t explain their reasons to a third party. They don’t know how to “sell” you. Even worse, they are terrified of being asked awkward questions.
Consider this example: You ask a good client to send friends your way. They approach a friend and say, “You really should work with my accountant.” The friend asks, “Why?” Your client replies, “Because my accountant is looking for new clients. He asked me to send him some.” That was awkward.