Don’t make this mistake if you want referrals from your clients

Regardless of which profession you practice, I wonder if you make an all too common mistake. We all hope that clients will want us to provide a range of services to them. And we hope that clients will recommend and refer us to other prospective clients too.

But, as I frequently point out, ‘hope’ is not a strategy. What do you do to ensure that clients become aware of all the services you offer?

It would be a mistake to run through everything you do at a time when you should be focused on your client’s needs. It would equally be a mistake to assume that clients will ever recall all of your service offerings.

I know an accountant, let’s call him, Andrew, who explains to new clients that he can do much more than day to day bookkeeping and accounting. He says he doesn’t just deal with day to day issues. He also has expertise in inheritance tax and at such time as a client starts thinking about their will, Andrew would love to help them.

Andrew tells me that the relationship developed well with one client and he did some great work for them. As a result, he was really quite upset to find out two years later that the same client has taken inheritance tax advice from a tax specialist.

Andrew wanted to know why the client had done this. I knew the answer as I’ve heard similar stories many times over the years.  I suggested that Andrew ask his client why they went to someone other than him for inheritance tax advice.

The client was surprised by the question and even more surprised to learn that Andrew could have provided the advice being sought.

Andrew was shocked. “But I told you I could advice on inheritance tax” he wanted to say.

The problem is that when Andrew mentioned this to his client, they weren’t interested. They might not have heard and they evidently didn’t remember. In my experience, few people remember things that they didn’t hear in the first place (names are another example).

You cannot afford to hope that clients will remember all the things you told them. Once. Twelve months ago.

Can you think of anything that you expect your clients to remember about your service capability, your expertise or your terms? Is it realistic to expect them to remember? Would it be better to do or say something, in passing, to ensure they don’t forget?

The same point is true as regards your service levels. You might have told them what to expect but did they take it in? Do they remember? Managing client expectations means more than just telling them once.

And finally, the same point applies when it comes to securing recommendations and referrals. There is little point in hoping that clients will recommend and refer you for a wider range of services than those they received. Indeed they may be reluctant to ever recommend you for services they haven’t experienced themselves.

Whatever you do, you need to take a more active role if you want more recommendations and referrals. Don’t assume that everyone remembers what you do, who you do it for and who you want to be introduced to. Chances are you’ll be disappointed.

Better to take some action and encourage the recommendations and referrals you seek.

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About the Author:

Mark Lee FCA is an accountancy focused futurist, influencer, speaker, mentor, author and debunker.

One Comment

  1. Tony Margaritelli 6th January 2017 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Sound advice as usual from Mark. The story of the Accountant whose client sought IHT advice from another source is one I come across from members up and down the country. Basically, we have to educate clients and as we all know education takes time and we have to keep educating our clients about what we can do them far more often and in as many varied ways as possible.

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