Getting clients through referrals is a powerful way to boost sales and encourage the growth of your accounting practice. As per the research done by Neilsen, 92% of the customers considered the word of mouth recommendations or referrals as a trusted source of marketing relative to advertisements.
Thus, referrals have played a critical role in building trust and enhancing brand loyalty. This happens because its a human tendency to seek advice from family members, friends, or colleagues whenever we want to make a critical purchase in order to minimize the risk attached to the new purchase.
So, the very foundation of referral marketing is the customer to customer interactions, that is people who have already taken your services and trust your advisory, are more likely to connect with each other and boost the growth of your accounting practice.
Therefore, the accounting professionals need to have a proper referral system in place as only positive customer experience is not enough to boost word of mouth recommendations.
In these changing times, the accounting firms need to follow proactive referral strategies and the very base of such referral strategies would be to win customer loyalty.
This article charts out the ways in which accountants can get referrals for their accounting firm.
The most important factor in getting high-quality referral leads is to establish trust. It is very important that your clients need to believe that your accounting firm is competent, reliable, prompt, objective, highly confidential, independent, and empathetic.
In order to build on these factors, the accounting professionals would really have to work hard as trust establishes over a period of time.
As an accounting professional, you need to demonstrate your expertise on a continuous basis to the clients which will in turn make them perceive that you are an authority in your niche.
So, here are some techniques that you can follow in order to build a high level of trust with new and existing clients:
- follow up with your new clients immediately after the first meeting, take their email address to send them a welcome email, make a phone call to build rapport and trust with the client, use orientation meetings to get referrals, etc
- ask your clients for a referral when they appreciate your services as this is the time when they are most responsive to recommend your accounting practice
- try winning customer loyalty over customer satisfaction alone by providing high-quality accounting and tax service
Make it Easy for your Clients to Give Referrals
In this modern era, the work schedule is quite hectic and challenging. People are overwhelmed as they are overloaded with work.
Just expecting them to remember your email address or keeping your business cards handy is out of the question in today’s times.
So, relying on such traditional ways of promoting your accounting practice won’t help you much in growing your business.
These conventional techniques of promoting accounting services put the burden on the prospective clients of maintaining your business cards, brochures, emails, etc.
You have to adopt other ways and means so that the prospects remember your name, email, and web address. Here are some strategies that you can follow:
- Focus on the type of prospective clients that your accounting firm wants to work with while asking for referrals from your existing clients. It is important to give clarity to your existing clients regarding the type of prospects you are looking out for because your clients will have a complete understanding as to whom should they refer you. Such a practice avoids your existing clients to refer to bad prospects.
- There are various ways by which you can look for referral opportunities like business cards, brochures, your email signature, invoices, website, social media profiles like LinkedIn, etc
- While sending emails to your existing clients, be very clear about the niche that you work in so that it is easier for your clients to understand what sort of services does your accounting firm offer.
Give Loyalty Rewards
Sending gifts or loyalty rewards to your existing clients is a great way to get referrals. Such rewards not only make your clients happy, rather it makes them share such a gesture with their colleagues, friends, and relatives. These rewards act as a foundation to kick off the conversation and is a great source of attracting referrals.
Many clients leave their current service providers because they feel they are not acknowledged. Having a referral program in place while having unacknowledged clients would become really challenging.
That is why it is important for accounting professionals to reward their clients and win their loyalty as they would help them in promoting their practice in a big way. So, how can the accounting professionals achieve this?
- They need to reward their clients periodically. Rewards include gifts. Besides gifts, accounting professionals can also send a simple thank you note or a memento to appreciate the effort made by their clients in giving referrals.
- Accounting professionals can also send useful articles, newspaper clippings as well as financial reports to their clients. This would also act as a reward for them as they need information pertaining to new updates regarding taxation and accounting as they themselves do not have time to do the research.
- Accounting professionals need to have a proper schedule for loyalty programs throughout the year. They can chart out important dates when such loyalty rewards can be sent out to their clients. These dates may include client birthday, anniversary, new year, etc.
- The clients who give you referrals on a consistent basis must be given extra incentives. As an accounting professional, you should leave no stone unturned in encouraging and appreciating such clients.
- To win the loyalty of your customers, you can send them a lead for their business. This you can achieve by understanding who be your clients’ ideal prospects and then arranging meetings or introduction with them.
Other Ways for Seeking Referrals
Chartered accountants can reach out to other members of ICAI for referrals. This they can achieve by becoming referrers themselves in the first place, taking the initiative of referring a client to fellow accounting professionals would help in building trust and rapport that can be leveraged in the near future.
Besides this, the chartered accountants can also attend conferences seminars and other interactive sessions to form connections with fellow CAs. This can be a great source of seeking referrals for your accounting practice.
Lastly, there are a lot of forums for CAs to help the general public and fellow CAs with regards to resolving queries regarding compliance, taxation, and other accounting practices. Showcasing your expertise on such forums is a great way to be in the eyes of businessmen and other CAs who can act as ambassadors for your accounting firm.