There is one sure-fire, never-fail way of increasing your revenue without any hard selling, without getting more clients, and without spending a single penny on advertising. Interested? Skeptical? Sound too good to be true?
Well, I didn’t say it was easy, but it is simple. You need a couple of tools, almost no investment cash and a little communication, and a minimal time investment in training your team.
First – the tools….
There is a magic tool on just about every desk in your office and used (or not used) by every member of your team. The telephone – an ancient, in modern terms, piece of technology that’s over 100 years old. With modern telephony it is easier and quicker to communicate with your clients than ever before.
What’s surprising is the low levels of telephone usage outbound. In most accounting offices, the telephone is used only as an inbound communication tool. This creates a reactive approach to clients; if you are reacting, you are not leading! Your clients are looking, nay, screaming silently, for leadership. Yet almost no outbound communication happens except for chasing documents, tax deadlines, and other “functionary” demands – and most of this is done by email.
Your clients have enough emails in one day from everyone else, and emails from their accountant are usually met with eye-rolls and a mental default to “for goodness’ sake, what work do I need to do now?” In the same way that print media and letters get a far greater open rate, telephone calls get a much higher response rate. BUT here’s the key – what if you call your clients WITHOUT having a demand, deadline, or document chase-up?
Communication (with clients)
When was the last time you spoke to a client about anything other than a renewal of service, a deadline, the year-end process, or some sales-related activity? Have you ever just called to see how things are going? Or asked the question, “is there anything I can help you with?” What about saying “Happy Birthday” or “Thank you – I notice you’ve been with us 5 years”?
You will be amazed how communicating with clients about more than just selling services makes them more receptive, engaged, and collaborative. And this is not a job for just partners. Anyone can do this in the practice. You can even gamify the whole process. Set a challenge for your team to contact clients daily or weekly.
During the COVID lockdown, I invented a game called Contact Roulette, where I downloaded all my contacts and picked three randomly every day to send a message to or phone. It was always the same message “Hope this finds you keeping well, just thought I’d check in and make sure you were OK and see if there was anything you need, even if it’s just a quick chat one human to another.” I got an overwhelming response because it was a genuine heart-felt message. It reminded me that in this age of connectivity, it’s still easy to become isolated.
The great thing about calling on clients is that you, as an accountant, have a unique insight into their lives and businesses. You have access to intimate information about your clients, and this is the doorway to the entire team in your practice being intelligence gatherers and, ultimately, rainmakers.
Training your team
When I mentioned almost zero cash investment, I meant no advertising costs. The most cash investment is going to be in staff time. This rainmaker exercise will pay for itself in many ways:
- Your team will be more engaged with your clients, potentially giving them more satisfaction in their work
- Your team will gain more understanding of how they influence and improve the financial resilience of the practice (thus increasing job security and retention of key talent)
- The practice will increase revenue for virtually no additional marketing costs
- The entire team will engage with each other – building better communication and teamwork across the practice (reducing silos)
So, what is the magic training?
It is simply awareness. Each of the departments in your practice will be looking at different aspects of your client’s businesses. Let’s take payroll as an example.
Your payroll department has one of the fastest insights into business changes – they see leavers, joiners, and growth (or decline) in employee numbers. This is immediate intelligence that can be used to engage with clients. Now your payroll processors can pick up the phone and ask what’s going on – what are the growth plans? What changes are happening? Relevant questions will give insight into the business activity. The payroll processor may be talking to HR or finance, not necessarily the business owner so that they will get a different perspective. Equally, if this intelligence is passed to a partner or senior in the practice, it gives an opening to a higher-level conversation with the senior management or business owners.
The same example works for personal tax assessments (insights to offer introduction opportunities to trusted partners), audits, and other compliance services. It all leads to better conversations and engagement with your clients. They will see your practice as proactive and leading. They will start seeing accounting services differently – and you will stand out over your competitors because, literally, no one is doing this right now.
Pick up the phone, and talk to your clients, not just sell to them. Be proactive and be seen as leaders. The results will follow!
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