Most accountants and bookkeepers get little enjoyment out of selling and prefer to spend as little time as possible doing it, even though they see the necessity in it. One obvious way to moderate the need to sell is to keep the clients you already have. If only there was some way to know whether the prospective clients you’re pursuing will stay for the long haul—selling might seem more palatable and worth your time and effort.
Of course there’s no way to guarantee long-term customer loyalty, but inserting certain techniques into your marketing and sales processes can improve your chances. It comes down to attracting the types of clients who are a great fit for your firm and building strong relationships from that very first encounter.
Marketing your firm in a way that prequalifies prospects
Certain marketing techniques help to “pre-qualify” prospects by attracting those who match well with your services and culture. This matching process starts with knowing who your ideal client is. As you examine your clientele and think about this, look beyond company size and industry to other factors—for example, maybe you’ve noticed your firm has been successfully attracting and retaining startup companies.
Content marketing is one such technique for targeting the right prospects because they get an early glimpse of your knowledge, see that you understand their needs, and start to trust you. Blogging is one of the best and most common forms of content used in B2B content marketing, but don’t despair if writing isn’t your thing—you can still produce good content. Podcasts, webinars, and recorded videos (which can be transcribed into blogs) are popular content formats that many people prefer to consume.
This Hubspot article goes deeper into using content marketing to pre-qualify leads. Other marketing tactics that help you reach your ideal prospect are referrals from your current “ideal clients,” aligning with other businesses that serve your ideal client and choosing carefully targeted speaking engagements.
Pre-qualification steps to refine even further
Many accounting and bookkeeping firms already use some form of client pre-qualification, but it’s still a good idea to review your process with an eye toward whether it’s helping you find clients more likely to stick with you. For example, is your process weeding out price shoppers and helping to identify those looking for a trusted advisor they’ll involve in multiple aspects of their business?
This article offers some good advice on potential questions accountants and bookkeepers can use to prequalify clients. Pay particular attention to those that could offer clues to relationship longevity, such as:
- Plans for future expansion
- Business challenges they’re trying to solve
- How they think an accounting or bookkeeping firm can add value to their business
- Why they’re changing firms
If the prospect resists having a fact-finding meeting to discuss topics like these or asks for a proposal too quickly, they might not be serious about working with you, and you won’t have a good understanding of whether you’re a good fit.
Onboarding that fosters longevity
Once a new client has signed on, it’s important to welcome them with a smooth onboarding process that lays the foundation for a great client experience and a lasting relationship. Onboarding that makes new clients feel valued and helps them know what to expect has been proven to increase client satisfaction.
Onboarding processes—whether they take place in the form of e-mail, phone call, or in person meetings—vary widely from firm to firm, but some basics that will improve the client experience and help promote a long-term relationship include:
- A welcome letter or meeting
- Clear expectations of the services you’re providing and how you’ll work together
- What the business goals are and how you’ll prove you’ve met them
- How they want to communicate with you and how often
- Introductions to the people who will be working with the client
Predicting loyalty once they become a client
Once you begin working with your new client, don’t neglect holding regular check-ins to gauge satisfaction and make sure expectations are being met. Be sure to log these interactions in your CRM software. CRM tools help you keep track of important information you learn from clients and remind you to take action on potential pain points the client might be experiencing.
Customer loyalty is hard to predict with 100% accuracy and can change with a single bad experience, but there are some indicators of whether customers will stay loyal:
- They show interest in growing the relationship by expanding to other services you offer or asking you to advise on other aspects of their business related to finance.
- They give you referrals or endorsements.
- They resist competitor incentives to switch.
- They collaborate with you on ways to improve your services.
Selling doesn’t have to be a chore if you can think of it more in terms of a matching exercise between you and another “ideal client” who will be with your firm for a long time. The value these types of clients bring—along with others they tell about your firm—will prove your time and effort was well spent.
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