Growing your client base with referrals is a great way to boost income for your accounting firm. Make referral business part of your overall marketing strategy by developing a specific plan for generating referrals.
Benefits of Referrals
Referrals are sales leads or recommendations you get from other contacts. Referrals are often easier to make appointments with than potential clients you cold call. Because someone the referee trusts has recommended your firm, the issue of credibility has already been tackled. Potential clients are more likely to be willing to listen to your pitch when someone they know has referred you to them.
Referred clients are also more likely to utilize your services. Because you’ve built 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 that have been referred are also more likely to refer other clients to your firm. This is based on the quality of the services they receive and how satisfied they are. However, because you’ve built trust with this client through the referral, they’re generally more open and willing to pass along referrals to others because you’ve established credibility with them.
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, mention that your firm is always looking for anyone who might be interested in your services. Don’t force the issue; just mention it. This plants a seed in your client’s mind and often leads to at least one referral, especially if your client has had a good experience with 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. Consider offering a cash or gift award to clients for each referral who becomes a client of your firm.
Another passive way to ask for referrals is to include a line in your email signature or on business cards that lets clients know that it’s a huge compliment to your firm when they refer others to your business. This offers your clients the opportunity to feel that 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.
Dealing With Referrals
Follow up immediately on any referral you receive. The person who refers someone to you has vouched for you and established 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. Whatever you do, make sure the person who originally made the referral knows that you appreciate them. Don’t neglect seeking referral business to grow your accounting firm. Referrals are often the easiest prospects to close.