Referral marketing for accountants (part one)

Many accountants like to think that they secure most of their new clients through ‘word of mouth’ recommendations – often from existing clients.

I wonder how much of that is what I might suggest is ‘accidental’ word of mouth marketing. It happens at a sufficient rate to balance out the odd client loss. But it’s rarely part of an organised marketing strategy.For example do your clients know that you look to them to refer new clients to you? Do they know the sort of clients you are specifically targeting? Do YOU know what you’d like your clients to say when they talk about your firm(beyond relaying their positive views about the service, people and fees)?

I’ve been collecting reasons as to why many accountants don’t ask clients for referrals. Could it be because the accountant:

  • thinks their clients won’t know anyone suitable to be a client;
  • doubts that their clients will ever meet anyone who would be a good client;
  • hasn’t thought about it?
  • prefers to deal with complete strangers who have no preconceptions about the firms;
  • thinks it’s unprofessional to ask clients for referrals;
  • is afraid that clients might refuse to refer anyone as they don’t rate the accountant.

I was talking to an accountant in Cardiff yesterday who ONLY takes on new clients who are introduced by existing clients. If you don’t know one of his clients you won’t become a client. He spends nothing on adverts – although he does have a simple website to support his client’s referrals for when prospective clients want to know more about him and his firm.He has ten staff by the way.

I’ll address some of the reasons listed above in a subsequent blog post.In the meantime, let me ask – Are there any reasons I’ve missed?

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By |2019-03-04T18:48:24+00:00November 12th, 2008|Business messaging and branding, Referrals|

About the Author:

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

6 Comments

  1. Stuart Jones 12th November 2008 at 8:40 am - Reply

    How about (in this day and age) most business owners are focussed on themselves and aren’t interested in helping anyone else so it’s not worth asking?

  2. Alex 12th November 2008 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    It is sometimes nerve racking to ask a client face to face for a referral, as you don’t want to impose and you don’t know if they have good connections. I have solved this problem by establishing a referral network online on the website Referral Key. On this site I can easily connect with clients and other colleagues, view who they are connected to, and exchange referrals.

  3. Shaun McGuinness 14th November 2008 at 10:01 am - Reply

    I do actively ask for referrals es[ecially if I have done some “clever” tax planning work or installed more software and trained the client. It is by far the best way of getting new work but you just have to ask. As accountants we forget that we are actually sales people so must sell our services – or at least try!

    Your guy in Cardiff reminds me of the Australian dentist Dr Paddi Lund who will only accept patients by referral. Maybe one day I will get there!

  4. My guess is that there are 100 excuses but only one real reason; accountants are afraid to ask!

    One strategy that can work is getting the firm to explain to clients that the firm runs a referral programme and ask clients if they would be happy to be involved. This way the accountant is not asking for an outright referral there and then.

    The content of the programme can be developed and there can be referrals cards given to clients who want to be involved.

    There can be blog posts about the referral programme and PR.

  5. Colin Cowap 6th December 2014 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    Referrals are the lifeblood of a thriving accounting business. They are low-cost pre-qualified leads, which with a bit of work on your end, can be converted into excellent clients very quickly. However If you would like to see a completely new type of referral solution for accountants that even comes with even a 100% money back guarantee to improve your practice growth by at least 30% in less than 12 months risk-free. Click the link template.proactive-accountant.com to see more information

  6. Colin Cowap 6th December 2014 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    Referrals for accountants are the lifeblood of a thriving accounting business. They are low-cost pre-qualified leads, which with a bit of work on your end, can be converted into excellent clients very quickly. However If you would like to see a completely new type of referral solution for accountants that even comes with a 100% money back guarantee to improve your practice growth by at least 30% in less than 12 months risk-free. Copy paste the below address into your web browser to see more information

    template.proactive-accountant.com

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