If you have been running your practice for a few years or more you have more than likely realised having your clients renew year after year is easier and more economical than getting new clients to join your firm.
Accounting firms do often miss the opportunity to generate more sales from existing clients. Targeting your existing clients will increase your sales and also has its benefits.
As you have already worked with your clients there is a bond and a trust factor that only happens over time. If you have satisfied clients you have opportunity for growth.
You will not have to spend as much on marketing to current clients as you do new clients. Don’t get me wrong, marketing is essential to retain clients, but you have already done the hard work, now it is about how you make them feel.
In fact a study has shown that a satisfied client will tell 9 other people about your services, and an unsatisfied client will share their experience with 22 other people.
As there is a strong case for increasing sales to existing clients, what should you be focusing on?
Improving Your Services
Clients have thousands of accounting firms that they can choose to go with, and will have no qualms switching to a competitor.
I am sure you pride yourself on the service that you offer, but please do understand that no matter how well you deliver your services, client expectations will always be higher.
Amazon can deliver products in 24 hours or less and Uber can bring a car to your front door in 4 minutes and take you anywhere you choose. With companies delivering exceptional customer experience, your clients are expecting the same from you.
This means you have to be on your toes to deliver top-notch services. If you can leave your clients excited and happy about doing business with you, you can be confident that they will stay with your firm and not check out your competitors.
Here are some tips on how to improve your services:
First it is important to make sure your team have customer service skills. CRM systems can go a long way to supporting your team to deliver well, but nothing can beat having the right traits in your team. These traits should include:
Empathy – your team need to be understanding. Clients wont really understand all the jargon and acronyms that the profession use and your team needs to appreciate this. Having empathy will lead to the next skill…
Patience – nothing is more frustrating when someone just doesn’t get what you are trying to explain. Patience is essential to ensure strong relationships between your team and your clients. Some clients will be chatty, some will irritate, some will be rude.
Consistency – guidelines on how to interact with clients will ensure a cohesive experience for your clients and build on the trust factor that is needed.
Adaptability – Every client is different. Your team need to be able to handle the curve balls a client may throw at them, and have a willingness to learn the softer skills needed to be able to adapt.
Clear Communication – Ensure your team conveys exactly what you want them to convey in a clear manner. Scope creep happens when actions are not clearly conveyed and communication is poor.
Knowledge – A client that trusts in your knowledge will stay with you even if you are charging more than your competitors. Having an educated team who are able to articulate well will ensure your clients feel confident having your as their accountant.
Stay In Touch With Existing Clients
Your clients don’t care about you. It’s true. Just like you lay awake at night worrying about your business, your clients are worrying about theirs. But, your clients are expecting you to worry about their business too. Therefore they need to know that you are thinking about them.
To make your clients feel loved send them emails, invite them to client only events, give them a call on the telephone, send them letters in the post. Do not ever believe that communicating once a year will help you retain clients. It won’t.
Increase Your Value
Let me remind you of the fast, good and cheap analogy where you are asked to pick only two.
The Fast (Time), Good (Quality) and Cheap (Price/Resources) triangle suggests all three properties of a service are interrelated, and it is not possible to optimise all three – one will always suffer. In other words you have three options:
- Deliver your services quickly and to a high standard, but then it will not be cheap
- Deliver your service quickly and cheaply, but it will not be of high quality
- Deliver your service with high quality and cheaply, but it will take a long time
If you are working with clients that want something cheap then the chances are your delivery will be under-par and not create a great experience. It simply is not possible to deliver great services, great experiences and cheap pricing.
Which leaves you with only one option. Deliver great services, a great experience and charge for them accordingly. This means that you need to focus on solution delivery, not reducing your prices to get clients.
One of the things I often talk about is high value clients. High value clients are the ones that pay you well for a service that solves a problem. If you don’t have high value clients yet, you can create a more rounded service that helps your clients better and offer them a complete solution to their problems.
By improving your services you will improve your results and experience. Which in turn enables you to ask for more money.
One of the most powerful forms of marketing is differentiation. If you can show how you are different from other firms then you will have clients want to stay with you for longer as they can see why you are the answer for them.
One thing I often speak about is a Signature System. Creating a Signature System will enable you to productise your service offering and turn your “accounting firm” into a solution provider.
In summary, selling more services to existing customers becomes far easier than getting new customers once you have the right foundations in place.
You need a good team to support you, the right services to support your clients and trust between your current clients and your firm. When these three things are aligned you have the opportunity to sell more services to more of your current clients.
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