Growing your client base is a focus for every business, and it’s no different for an accountancy firm. When you have steady business, peaks around reporting times and a long list of other things to do, it can be difficult to put time aside to formulate and deliver a plan to find new clients. So how can you attract more clients in an increasingly competitive sector like accountancy?
Before you set off on a new client push, take a moment to check your current situation, specifically that you’re delivering the best possible service to clients and that your existing customers are happy. This could help you in the drive to attract more clients, but it’ll also ensure you’re not about to overstretch yourself by taking on more work than can be properly handled.
You should also consider your current team to ensure you have the right mix of people and talents and that you’re adequately resourced. If there are any gaps, define the role you need to fill and the type of candidate you need to fill it. Remember, accountancy is about more than just numbers, so look for people who have a varied skill set, including relationship building and interpersonal skills, and who are technologically competent. Also remember that if hiring staff isn't currently financially viable, you can always outsource roles to ensure you continue to deliver a comprehensive service.
Once your team is ready, it’s time to start working on building that client list. When it comes to new clients, quality quite often beats quantity, so targeting long-term clients whose needs meet your specialisms is key. To achieve this, be clear on any niche or specialisms that you focus on. This could be providing services for a specific industry or a particular business type. Once you’ve identified your preferred client type, make sure all your content and marketing materials tie into this.
Your website will have a huge impact on how your business is perceived and may well be the first place a potential client sees what you offer. If crucial information is hard to find or understand, the visitor will be quick to leave and move on to the next site. For this reason, you should regularly check that your website is up to date and contains relevant and accurate information on both the services you offer and how potential clients should get in touch. Clear calls to action, either pointing out ways to get in touch, sign up for newsletters, get a quote and so on, are great lead generation tools. You should also consider using some basic SEO techniques, such as optimising pages of your website to target local search queries and encouraging clients to leave reviews – something popular with Google. Also, check that links work and your site is responsive so it can be viewed on any device.
Writing original content, such as blogs, staff profiles and case studies, is a great way to showcase what you can do, and this can also feed into your equally important social media presence while building the profile of your team. Social media can also offer a targeted and cost-effective way to advertise to a specific audience, should you have the budget for this.
Of course, your current happy clients can be of great value when finding new business. The better your service, the more likely they’ll be to recommend you to others. You could even offer incentives to clients, such as discounts on their fees or gift cards if they refer a new client to you who stays for a certain length of time. Referred companies will often convert into clients more quickly as they already know that you can do the job, so don’t be afraid to ask existing clients to share your good work.
When looking to add to your client list, you should also aim to venture outside of your current network. While this may have been sufficient until now, the more you can get your brand out there, the more likely you’ll attract new clients. In-person networking can take several forms. Identify the groups or meetups that your ideal client attends and go along. Don’t just attend industry events, but make yourself available to take up speaking slots - this can be a great way to show your expertise and grow brand awareness. Also, think about using co-working spaces. These are used by many small businesses and start-ups, many of which will need accountancy services at some point. Remember, though, that this is about building relationships. While you may turn up armed with your business cards, you should focus on having good conversations and making connections, not purely on selling your business.
We've put together a seperate guide on how to network to win clients which you can read here.
You also shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the proper tech setup when growing your business and helping you cope with an influx of new clients. Today’s business owners will likely be tech-savvy, and they’ll expect the same from you. Whether that’s being able to access and update their accounts in real-time or automate repetitive tasks using accounting software, they’ll be looking for an accountant that saves them time and works efficiently for them. At the same time, automating things like payments or debtor tracking will free up your team’s time to manage more clients without the level of service dipping. Communication will be enhanced if you and your client can log in to accounting software simultaneously, enabling you to offer immediate advice and solve issues quickly, wherever you may be. Your offering can also benefit from smart reporting tools that allow you to create insightful reports and valuable updates that your client can action, encouraging them to rely on your expertise.
However, before you embark on any of these steps, make sure you’re prepared. As you put yourself out there, you’ll likely be quizzed on your business, your background and precisely what you can offer, so be sure to have a clear, concise and engaging introduction to you and your business offering. Writing an elevator pitch can be a great way to do this. An elevator pitch should only be 30 seconds long and explain who you are, what you offer, the problem you solve and why you’re different. It shouldn’t be a straight sales pitch, though – the aim is to engage the listener and encourage them to find out more, so ask questions and look to create an opportunity for a follow-up. This could involve asking for their business card and offering to send them more information. Having a practised elevator pitch up your sleeve is particularly useful for those who aren’t trained salespeople. It means you’re always prepared to make a pitch, and, most importantly, it’s a great way to start a conversation and generate those all-important leads.