There is no doubt that accounting practices get most of their business through referrals. But what seems like a great source of new clients can appear hard to scale.
So how do you capitalize on your network of contacts and the reputation within that network?
Jay Abraham, possibly the biggest marketing guru of all time, covers a system of getting referrals in his book “Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got”. He devotes a whole chapter to the subject, so for brevity I’ll cover the main points.
How to Do It
When clients deal with you or your staff in person, by phone, letter or email ask them for client referrals as often as possible. Explain to the client in detail what kind of business or person could benefit most from your services.
Offer to consult with the client’s referral or let them sample your service.
The following guide helps you and your clients recognize and refer more clients to you.
Referral System Template
- What are the demographics of your ideal prospects?
- Type of Business
- Business Revenue
- Geographic Region
- Buying Preferences
- Any other demographic group that applies to your business
- Who can refer those prospects to you?
- Prospects who did not convert
- Neighbours and friends
- Association Members
- Other businesses and professionals whom your prospects trust
- Leaders or prominent people whom your prospects admire, respect or trust
- Magazine editors or writers of publications
- Special interest groups (e.g. hedge fund investors, yacht owners)
- Companies or individuals who deal with the clients you want
- Set the stage for getting referrals. Some ideas are:
- If you can, position yourself as different from your competitors.
- Show interest in your current clients by asking them about themselves.
- Explain that even if the referral does not become a client, you will have opened their eyes to what is available, what pit falls to avoid, what they might overlook and anything else that could positively or negatively affect the referral.
- Give them both logical and emotional reasons why they should give you referrals.
- Explain to your clients that you get most of your business through referrals and therefore can devote more time and money in providing a better service.
- Offer to give them an incentive for the referral.
- Offer to give their clients a service for free or at a discount.
- Have your client call or directly contact the referral.
- Do something in advance before asking for the referral.
- Keep in frequent contact with the people who have provided referrals in the past.
- Update your contact of any referrals that became clients.
- Ask for referrals when clients are most receptive. Perhaps when you have done something great for them or when that person has received a promotion or been elected to a special office.
- Help your clients locate the referrals for you. Ask them, “Who do you know who __________?” (Fill in the blank with as many different groups of people and scenarios as possible.)
The steps and the template may seem straightforward enough but the main point is:
If you get most of your business through referrals then implement a systemized process to get more……and use the system daily.
Looking at the sources of referrals shown above you might have just doubled or quadrupled your referral network! All you have to do now is ask…..
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Who do you know who is either working just on their own or perhaps in a firm with several partners, but they struggle to get and retain experienced staff or perhaps want to make considerable costs savings or maybe free up time for doing lucrative value-add work?
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