According to a rather large survey*the number 1 biggest source of new clients is…


I know! No shocks there!

*From a 2009 survey of 231 American buyers of professional service firms who spent, between them, $1.7billion on professional services (including accountancy) – by Wellesley Hills Group and I’d prefer UK research but this was survey too big to ignore.

What are you doing to maximise the number of referrals you get as a firm?

This survey confirms what we knew based on the 400+ 1-on-1 partner meetings we have been involved in over the last 9 years of working with accountants.

Yes it’s as old as the hills – but ask for introductions more often than you do now. Ask your clients and ask your contacts (bankers, solicitors etc) more often and guess what? You’ll eventually get more new clients (assuming you’re good at what you do).

EXAMPLE: One 7-partner firm we work with recently did! And the first time of asking the client ‘gifted’ 5 warm introductions. OK this won’t happen every time but it pays to… ASK! And ask more often.

So what EXACTLY should you do?

  1. Create 5 or more mechanisms for asking for referrals from clients – AND MAKE THEM HAPPEN
  2. Create 5 or more mechanisms for asking for referrals from introducers – AND MAKE THEM HAPPEN
  3. Make it easy for people to refer your firm

To help you with this third point…

…And linking with the ‘BRUTAL TRUTH’ element from our last blog about the great business book – Good To Great by Jim Collins. [Manu: link to Is Good To Great the best business book (post)]

To be successful at building greater referrals you must face three BRUTAL TRUTHS of marketing your accountancy firm:

1. Asking for referrals is not a short term project. Clients may have said ‘NO’ or not responded to your last request but keep asking.

EXAMPLE: One firm we work with systematically told a client at every quarterly management accounts review meeting that “he wanted to grow his firm and did they know anyone he should be contacting?”. At the fifth quarterly meeting the client stopped him saying it! He then handed him two names and contact numbers on an A4 sheet of letterhead.

Keep on keeping on. Ask with a smile and in good humour – it will eventually pay off.

2. Accountancy is viewed more and more as a Commodity – so demonstrating value and proving real ROI becomes a vital part of your efforts.

What evidence can you share to prove your firm’s value? Low-priced competitors increase the doubts in clients minds – so demonstrating value, proving your value is critical. And when you do, you are more likely to get referrals because clients are CERTAIN you deliver for them and can be confident about referring you.

3. Your Competition Is Working Hard too – so standing out from the crowd matters. If your firm’s offer is indistinguishable from other firms’ offers you’ll be lost in the crowd.

You Must Be Different. Being different is ‘worthy of attention’ (the oxford English dictionary definition of ‘remarkable’). You make it easier for people to talk about you if you are different. If they talk about you you’ll get recommended.

The more you tackle these three elements the more you’ll get referred because your clients will recognise the value you deliver.

This blog is my attempt to prove to you I’m thinking hard about how you can better market your firm and get more leads more often for your firm.

I hope you get some value from it? Let me know your thoughts by leaving your comments below…

Every success.

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