Growing your client base helps you boost revenue and continue growing your accounting firm. But how do you find a continuing stream of new clients? You may be sitting on a goldmine in your existing client base. Getting customer referrals, which are sales leads or recommendations, from your current clients can help you increase your roster while keeping your marketing budget to a minimum.
Benefits of Referrals to Increase Client Base
Traditionally, businesses use advertising campaigns to find new clients. Cold-calling is another commonly used technique. But those methods take a significant amount of time and a specific skill set to use effectively. With a marketing campaign, you need to understand how to put together an effective ad, where to place it, and how to manage the campaign. Cold calling often ends with lots of rejection, which can feel disheartening. Strong sales skills may also be needed.
Referrals from your existing client base can make the work easier. Your current contact list is limited to the people you already know or meet. By asking for referrals, you expand your reach to the contacts of all your clients. That puts you into contact with many more potential clients than you currently know. Your clients may have contacts with similar mindsets or situations, which means they should be a good fit for your accounting firm.
With referrals, you start with a group of people who already know and trust your work. When they recommend your accounting firm to someone else they know, you already have some credibility based on the word of someone they know. Potential clients may be more willing to listen to your pitch when someone they know refers you to them. Because you build trust and credibility through the referral, it’s much easier to sell your services to the client, focusing on the value of your services instead of the cost.
Clients who learn about you through a referral may be more likely to refer other clients to your firm as well. Those chances increase when they receive quality services that leave them satisfied.
How to Ask for Referrals
Referral business is easier to get as a professional who meets with clients in person. You have a built-in advantage over a business with less personal contact with customers. During an appointment with an existing client, you might mention that your firm is always looking for anyone who might be interested in your services. It’s best not to force the issue; just mention it in passing to avoid sounding pushy. This plants a seed in your client’s mind and often leads to at least one referral, especially if your client appreciates the services and experience they receive from your firm.
Including a link on your firm’s website to a referral form is another easy way to encourage referrals. The easier it is for your clients to make referrals, the more likely they are to do so. Another passive way to ask for referrals is to include a line in your email signature or on business cards. This line lets clients know that it’s a huge compliment to your firm when they refer others to your business. It offers your clients the opportunity to feel they’ve done a good deed when they refer a friend, family member, or colleague to your firm.
You can also get referrals by asking colleagues in other professions, such as attorneys, to refer their clients to your firm. After working with them, they have good insight into how their clients might benefit from your services. You can return the favour by referring your clients who need other services to those professionals who help you out.
Dealing With Referrals
Following up immediately on any referral you receive can increase your chances to landing a new client. The person who refers someone to you vouches for you and establishes a level of trust in your firm. It’s important to build on that trust quickly. If you can’t quickly set an appointment with the referral, continue to check in with them regularly to pursue a meeting.
Don’t forget to thank the person who made the referral, especially if the referred individual becomes a regular client. A simple thank you through a card or email is perfectly acceptable. Consider sending them a small gift as a token of your thanks for their help in growing your client base. You might give the referring client a discount of a set dollar amount on a future service. Or you might send them a gift card as a thank-you gift. People tend to refer more people with a paid referral system because they get something out of the deal. Whatever you do, make sure the person who originally makes the referral knows you appreciate them.
Seeking referral business can help you grow your accounting firm with a list of potential clients who may be easier to close than cold call prospects. Providing quality service and having the latest tools at your disposal helps you give all customers the best experience, which can encourage them to refer you to others. Collaborate with clients, stay on track, and grow your firm with QuickBooks Online Accountant. Sign up for free.