How to attract the right clients, and say goodbye to those who are obstacles to growth.
Have you ever onboarded a new client and had everything seem great…until suddenly it wasn’t? We’ve all been there. Whether this client is hard to reach, difficult to work with, or prone to scope creep, ultimately, it can start to affect your bottom line.
While more clients are usually a good thing for an accounting firm, more clients who aren’t a fit for your firm just mean more headaches.
What if you could dodge the stress of less-than-ideal client relationships altogether? What if your book of business was filled with high-value clients who are in sync with your firm’s aspirations?
Read on for tips on how to change your client interactions for the better, and what to look for when you’re prospecting for high-value clients.
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Do You Need More Clients? Or Just Better Ones?
It’s tempting to equate a larger client list with success, but this isn’t always how it shakes out. Instead, you can end up with shallow connections and a one-size-fits-all service that doesn’t cater to individual client needs. And let’s be honest, not every client is the right fit.
Imagine having a close-knit group of clients totally in sync with what you’re all about. Sounds refreshing, right? These high-value clients resonate with your company’s vision—allowing you to deliver tailored, high-impact solutions. It’s less about trimming down the list and more about making every interaction count.
Building deep connections rather than spreading yourself thin has its perks. You get to know your clients inside out: Good for them and good for you.
You’re paving a path for genuine, long-lasting success by zeroing in on quality relationships. It’s a win-win: You get to offer top-notch accounting services, and your clients feel valued. Now, that’s a partnership to cherish!
What Makes a High-Value Client?
High-value clients aren’t just those who pay more—they make your job easier. They synchronize effortlessly with your processes and expectations, creating a harmonious workflow.
Here’s how these high-value clients shine:
Timely Financial Statements
The right client understands the importance of punctuality. You receive their financial statements on schedule, allowing you to maintain a streamlined workflow. This makes you more efficient and keeps your tasks well-organized and your clients’ records up-to-date.
A high-value client values your services and understands the significance of your invoices. On-time payments mean financial stability for your business, eliminating the hassle of chasing down overdue invoices, so both sides can focus on the work.
High-value clients are attentive and responsive when it comes to communication. They get you the info you need (in a timely manner!), answer queries, and offer insights. Sure, we all drop the ball on an email or callback sometimes. But the clients you want are those who will drop you a quick “I’m on it—will get back to you by EOW!” so you can both stay on task.
Positive Working Dynamic
Working with these clients is a pleasant experience. Their attitude and demeanor should contribute to a positive working environment. If you dread an interaction, that’s a red flag! With an ideal client, your professional relationship can be enjoyable and easy.
Mutual Trust and Respect
High-value clients understand your expertise and respect your recommendations. They trust your judgment and decisions, allowing you to implement or advise effective strategies without resistance.
The synergy with high-value clients extends beyond single projects. They often evolve into long-term partners, ensuring a steady flow of work and income. This sustained collaboration allows you to anticipate their needs, customize your services, and optimize efficiency.
How High-Value Clients Benefit Your Firm
High-value clients serve as vital building blocks for your accounting success. By making your job easier and more fulfilling, they prove that true value in accounting extends well beyond monetary transactions.
They benefit your accounting business in big ways:
- Referrals: They bring new bookkeeping clients to you, saving you advertising costs.
- Investment in premium services: They’re happy to pay for your best accounting services, raising the amount you earn from each client.
- Feedback and engagement: They share their thoughts, helping you fine-tune your offerings.
- Loyalty: They stick around, giving you a steady income.
How to Find High-Value Accounting Clients
If you want more accounting clients to grow your firm, it might be time to reevaluate your client base and focus on finding better clients for your accounting business.
When attracting higher-value accounting clients, it’s important to remember that quality trumps quantity. You don’t want to simply fill your client roster with any prospects who come your way.
So, where to start?
Start With Self-Reflection and Brand Positioning
Before finding new high-value clients, take a moment to reflect on your firm’s strengths, expertise, and unique offerings. By clearly understanding what sets you apart, you can better align your marketing and client acquisition strategies to attract the right prospective clients.
By clearly understanding what sets you apart, you can better attract the right prospective clients.
Define Your Ideal Client
When defining your ideal client persona, focus on 2 categories: Demographics and psychographics. Some demographics you might consider are:
- Geographic location
- Company revenue
- Number of employees
Some psychographics you might consider are:
- Their needs and wants
- Their pain points
- Their goals and challenges
- Their buying habits
For example, you may target small businesses instead of larger ones with more complex accounting needs. On the other hand, if you’re looking for high-paying prospective clients, you may not want to work with small businesses that don’t have the budget for your services.
Another way to determine your ideal client is to look at past clients. What did you enjoy the most (or least) when working with them? Use this insight to help identify and find clients who might be a good fit for your business in the future.
Leverage Existing Client Relationships
Chances are you already have some excellent accounting clients who are happy with your services. Why not reach out to your existing clients and see if they know new clients who could use your help?
They’ve already experienced your services and could vouch for your skills, making their endorsements invaluable. Word-of-mouth referrals as social proof are among the best ways to attract new clients.
Carve Out Your Accounting Niche
Refine your accounting firm’s offerings by honing in on your accounting niche or specialties. By emphasizing your unique expertise, you naturally draw new clients searching for those exact services.
This might involve targeted advertising, specialized service packages, or content that addresses specific pain points. For instance, if advisory services are your niche, a prospective client only interested in tax return help likely isn’t right for you.
Do Your Research on Prospective Clients
Before you talk to new clients, take a moment to learn about their business. Understand what they want and what kind of accounting help they might need. With this knowledge under your belt, you can craft a pitch that resonates directly with their needs and makes them more likely to want to work with you.
Use Social Media Marketing
It’s more important than ever to stay active online as a part of your overall digital marketing strategy. Regularly update your platforms with insightful articles, case studies, and success stories showcasing your expertise.
Connect with new clients on the social media sites they’re most likely to be on (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook Groups, and Instagram for small business owners). Building a reputable digital presence will help you establish credibility and showcase your expertise to your target audience.
Offer Free Consultations
Many potential clients hesitate to work with a new accountant without getting a feel for what it would be like. Offering free consultations lets them “try before they buy.” It’s an opportunity for them to understand your approach and see your expertise in action.
Similarly, it lets you assess if they’re the right fit for your services. Essentially, it’s a risk-free way for both parties to see if there’s a match.
Build Strategic Partnerships
Collaborate with non-competing businesses or other professionals who share your target audience. For example, if you specialize in accounting for creatives, partnering with e-commerce platforms or digital marketing agencies can be beneficial.
Join a Partner Program
Join an industry partner program to get access to an online community or networking events with other accountants and bookkeepers, and learn how other accounting firms are building their books of business.
Networking with other like-minded professionals offers insights, referrals, and potential collaborations, enhancing your business reach and knowledge.
Some programs (like the FreshBooks Accounting Partner Program) can more actively help you connect potential clients who fit your criteria.
Improve Your New-Client Selection Process
A flawless client selection process starts with a thorough introductory meeting. Asking the right questions during these calls helps determine whether a prospect is a good fit for your business.
Find out what their needs are and the challenges they face. You’ll have a way better idea of whether you can tailor your services to meet their requirements. You can also assess whether you’re interested in offering the accounting services they need help with.
Here are examples of questions to ask potential clients:
- What is your budget for this project?
- What accounting software do you use?
- When do you need this project completed?
- What are your specific needs that we can help with?
- Do you have other businesses that you need help with?
- Are you happy with your current accountant/bookkeeper?
- What are your current accounting and bookkeeping procedures?
By taking the time to assess new leads to ensure they’re a good fit for your business, you can avoid taking on clients who could be more trouble than they’re worth.
How to Turn Challenging Accounting Clients Into Good Ones
Sometimes, it’s worth it to nurture existing client relationships. The initial worth of a client doesn’t always reflect their long-term potential.
However, there’s a distinction between nurturing a client with potential and spending excessive energy on persistently challenging clients. Engaging with the latter can drain resources, affect service quality for other clients, and even lead to burnout.
Before letting go of your difficult accounting clients, consider the following.
Find Out What’s Causing Friction
Understand why a client might be challenging. Is it dissatisfaction with your service, delayed payments, or constant indecisiveness?
Set up a meeting or hop on a call to discuss the issue in more detail and better understand their perspective. You may find a resolution by addressing concerns head-on through direct communication.
Develop clear boundaries by being upfront about your working hours and how soon they can expect to hear back from you. It will help manage their expectations and give you time to focus on other clients. Don’t respond to emails or calls after working hours or on weekends if you’ve told them you’re unavailable at those times.
It’s important to set boundaries on the type of work you’re willing to do, too. By doing this, you can avoid taking on additional work that you ca unable complete or that isn’t in your contract.
Good communication goes a long way. Establish which communication methods work best for both of you from the beginning, and then stick to them!
Be clear and concise in your communications. Clients who don’t understand something are more likely to become frustrated and difficult to work with. Remember, you’re trying to build a relationship with this client, not alienate them.
If a client is facing challenges, consider how you might adapt your offerings to assist. This doesn’t mean undervaluing your services but finding mutual ground that aligns with both parties’ interests. Your clients will appreciate it and be more likely to see you as a valuable partner in their business—especially if you can help them save money or improve their financial situation.
But remember, while it’s commendable to make efforts to convert challenging clients into better partnerships, it’s equally important to recognize when it’s more beneficial to focus on clients who inherently value and align with your services.
High-Value Clients Are the Key to Success for Your Accounting Firm
Cultivating relationships with high-value clients is vital for sustainable growth. By emphasizing these relationships, you foster trust and position your accounting firm for longer-term partnerships and consistent revenue streams.
In the grand scheme of client relationships, ensure you’re dedicating resources wisely. Your focus should always lean towards clients who bring value to your accounting business, align with your services, and allow for mutual growth. So get out there and start prospecting those high-value accounting clients!
This post was updated in August 2023.