President Perceptive Business Solutions Inc.
Columnist
Share this content
business people looking through binoculars and telescopes
ferrantraite_istock_clientsearch

5 Nearly Painless Ways to Find New Clients

by
Aug 2nd 2018
President Perceptive Business Solutions Inc.
Columnist
Share this content

Many accountants recoil when they hear the word “prospecting,” it’s not something they typically do. So where are you going to find those new clients you need?

Let’s face it, you aren’t going to advertise at bus stops or supermarket shopping carts and you most certainly aren’t going to cold call. What will you do to get new business?

Here are five simple tips to get prospects coming through your door without losing your dignity:

1.  Referrals

Almost everyone involved in sales agrees the best way to get a new client is for a satisfied, happy client to send along one of their friends. Unfortunately, your clients don’t wake up thinking “Who am I going to refer today?” unless they belong to a networking group where it’s the price of admission. You need to get them thinking about it.

How: Start by letting clients know you are open to accepting referrals. A lawn sign “Now accepting referrals” is too obvious. Logically, you approach clients with complicated situations where you add value. You also approach executive clients, people who are comfortable bringing in consultants when they don’t have the specialized knowledge or the time required to get certain jobs done.

What’s next: Let clients know you expand your practice by a few clients each year. Some walk through the door, others hear about you, but the majority come from satisfied clients who know someone you can help. Be as specific as possible. “Someone just like you, running a consulting business in addition to being a college professor.” or “Someone who has recently started a business.” Align it to the type of people they would likely know. 

Tact: People want to help other people solve problems. You are a resource.

2. Professional Associations

You’ve read about this before. You have a niche market. Several clients own manufacturing firms, are government contractors or run medical practices. You understand the unique demands of their industry. It’s time to join the relevant professional association.

How: Ideally those clients like you and appreciate how you help them. Ask about the professional association unique to their industry in your metro area. Do they allow people to join who not directly employed in the field, yet provide a service to members? If they don’t know, visit the organization’s website. Look under membership classes. View the directory if possible, looking for other accountants.

What next: Once you are in, attend meetings and get to know members. Ask your client to introduce you around. Don’t try to run the place. Learn if they have dinner speakers, a seminar program, a newsletter or trade show events.

Tact: You joined a group where you already have several fans.

3. Relocated Executives

People on the fast track get moved around all the time. They are new to the area and want to hit the ground running. They probably want face to face relationships with people handling their money. Make it easy for them.

How: Your local business journal should have a “People on the Move” section. Daily newspapers feature executive appointments in the business section. The website www.hometownnews.com is a useful place to find local papers in your area. Build a list. 

What’s next?  Put together a marketing package explaining what you do. Give the recipient a compelling reason to either get in touch or keep in touch. A pre stamped response card asking for their contact information takes seconds to fill out. A small envelope provides privacy. Give them choices like “Call me now” or “Keep in touch.” If you don’t hear, follow-up with a business letter a couple of times.

Tact: You reached out. You gave them the opportunity to opt in.

4. Centers of Influence

You know what they are, because many other professions think of you as one of them. Sometimes it seems everyone wants you to send along people with money.

How: Start with your own client base. If a relocated executive was new to the area, who would know about it? The realtor who handled the relocation. The company HR person who got them settled. Their fellow C-Suite executives. Expand this circle beyond clients to friends in these positions.

What’s Next: Your clients know you are honest, ethical and fairly priced. Now they also need to know how you help people. Let them know. Next, tell them the type of people whose life you could make easier. Ask them to keep you in mind when these people express a need or ask for certain kinds of help. This has likely happened before. They probably suggest a few names, letting the prospect pick. You want to be one of those names.

Tact: Your COI wants to remain their client’s Go To person. You just gave them another resource.

5. LinkedIn 

As a LinkedIn member (and there are currently over 500 million) you have the ability to browse through the 1st level connections of your 1st level connections. (Your 2nd level connections.) Playing ‘who knows who” can bring prospects to the surface.

How: You have established a niche for yourself at the state university. When a professor needs an accountant, you are the obvious choice. But your penetration is limited to this campus. Use LinkedIn to find other professors at nearby campuses. See “who knows who” within your network of 1st level connections.

What’s Next: When an interesting name appears, call your connection and ask how well they know this other professor. Hopefully your connection is a client. Do they have a similar employment situation? Do they earn an income from consulting? Publish? Make TV appearances? Serve on boards? That’s how you’ve helped your client on the other end of the phone. You might be able to help their friend too. Would they introduce you over coffee? You promise not to be pushy. They may already have their bases covered.

Tact: You’ve asked for an intro to a colleague over coffee.

Replies (1)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

stephen
By StephenGiderson
Nov 28th 2018 20:07 EST

Things could get ugly when progress is deemed to be slow in the service industry. There really isn't much time to waste if we are not seeing results in this sector of the market. What we truly need in due time is to get new audiences not to just pass us by but to stop by and be part of our supply chain.

Thanks (0)