10 Ways Accountants Can Help Themselves When Their Business Is Slow

Nov 7th 2014
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When business is slow, don't blame the economy. While effects of the Great Recession still hang over us, slow spells can happen any time for a variety of reasons. Don't take a vacation. Don't think you'll just wait it out. And don't get into bed with a quart of ice cream. If you're serious about business development, there are things you have to get yourself to do:

  1. Get yourself in a positive frame of mind. Things will be as bad as you may think they are if you are not in a positive frame of mind. You will convey whatever your state of mind is, so work on yourself first.
  1. On a slow day, make a list of people—clients, prospects, referral sources—and start calling as many as you can. Do this even if it's around holiday time. Other people may be facing slow times too and have time to talk. Get together in person if possible. Convey an upbeat impression and the sense that business is good. Inquire about their business and needs. See if there is a way you can help (billable or not). Give some examples of what you have done for others. Say you always appreciate referrals or introductions.
  1. Toss around ideas with people who are your sources of inspiration. Misery may love company, but more success comes from surrounding yourself with energizing and inspiring people.
  1. If the slow spell persists for some time, keep up your contacts and your spirits—isolation is depressing. Don't sell too hard. If you talk to enough people, you will come up with new prospects and new ideas. If they like and respect you, people will appreciate your calls. Don't be discouraged if they are busy and unreachable at first.
  1. Analyze why times are slow, and don't be too quick to blame it on things you can do nothing about. To a large extent, you are in control if you want to be. Greater effort and doing things a bit differently can help.
  1. Be flexible. Make sure your skills/product/services are what people want to buy now and the way they want to buy. Is there some other market segment to market to? Is there a related service you can couple with what you do to make it more useful and appealing? Could you possibly be more successful trying to sell your services in smaller pieces to get a foot in the door? Bundle or unbundle.
  1. Think of ways to increase the value of your services to your clients. What extras can you add? Can you make introductions for them? How can you help make them more successful?
  1. Spend time on your clients' premises. You will meet more people that way and have an opportunity to learn their business better, spot problems, and identify needs you can fill.
  1. Whenever you get a chance, talk about the good things others in your firm are doing. It will help them, and they will help you.
  1. Very important: Make it a priority to do these things even when you are busier so you avoid big dips and so people won't assume you are "needy" when you call. It will keep you on their minds for when an opportunity arises.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot helps firms increase profitability and productivity by attracting and retaining clients and employees of different generations, improving the working relations of their multigenerational teams and facilitating knowledge transfer and succession planning. She is president of Practice Development Counsel and a recognized expert on business development and workplace intergenerational challenges, speaker, author and facilitator. She is the author of The Rainmaking Machine and The Marketer's Handbook of Tips & Checklists (both Thomson Reuters). Reach her at [email protected], View her YouTube videos at her Generational GPS channel. © Phyllis Weiss Haserot, 2014. All rights reserved.


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By Virginia Nicols
Jun 25th 2015 20:11 EDT

Phyllis, your item #2, Calling people without a real reason, can be mighty awkward. Maybe combining #6 ("Bundle or unbundle") would give you something interesting and valuable to talk about on that call? Best of all is #10 -- market all the time, whether you need it or not! Good list.

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By Phyllis Weiss Haserot
Jun 25th 2015 20:11 EDT

Thanks for your comment, Virginia.
Yes, calling with no apparent reason in mind can be awkward. That's why you want to have a reason in mind, such as giving some tips from what you have learned or done for another client or project and asking if that is an issue they are dealing with too. If yes, you have tarted a conversation about a need. If not, you can ask what are the problems or issues that most concern them now or in anticipation. That leads you to another conversation.
Be creative: follow in the media, webinars and professional associations what seems to be new or troubling to clients and ask about that. Your calls are to show caring and ask questions that lead to possible new areas of work. Learning to be a good questioner takes some advance thought.
I hope this gives you some ideas and comfort.

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