What can you do about all the competition from other accountants?

One of the accountants I spoke with recently has been struggling for over three years to build their own practice.
Although they had won a fair few clients in year one, some have since moved on. The accountant feels their service is good enough and that their fees were not excessive.  They talk to lots of prospects but sense they are all just searching for the cheapest accountant.
The accountant also told me they had identified over 100 other accountants within a 5 mile radius of home and wanted to know what they could do to get on to page one of Google.

The accountant’s question was simple: How do I compete?  

Here’s the bare bones of my reply:

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Prospects vs suspects

You think you are good with clients but you seem to struggle with converting prospects into clients. I wonder if they are all even prospects. Some may be simply ‘suspects’ – for example those who you say are not ready with their business model. Is the service such people require different to what you’re offering? Maybe they need help building their business model?

Can you distinguish suspects from prospects? The latter are not just people who want an accountant but people you have found out enough about to know that you could provide what they want/need and that you can provide those services.

The sooner you learn to distinguish suspects and prospects the more you can ensure you only spend time with genuine prospects.

Online promotion

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is about ensuring your website appears high up the search results when people search for the services you are offering. You’re right. It will be hard to compete with 100 other local accountants apparently offering the same thing to the same people.

There are typically two types of people who search online for an accountant:

  1. Those who just want an accountant (be it their first one or to switch from a bad one)
  2. Those who want an accountant who specialises in helping people just like them

It sounds like you’re hoping to be found alongside all of the other general accountants around, regardless of who is looking. While there will be fewer people searching for a specialist accountant, more of them are likely to be pay good fees for specialist advice and you will face less competition if you aim to be found here.

And do remember that most people searching online are looking for someone local – regardless of how capable you might feel you are of servicing clients across the UK

‘Completing the sale’

Do you have the confidence and skills to ‘complete the sale’ with prospects? – ie: to help them to want to engage YOU as their accountant?
This demands both structured conversational skills and presenting them with the right paperwork at the right time.

Local competition

Ah yes, this is what you suggest may be the biggest issue. You may be right. But equally if you can distinguish yourself, your service and your approach from the others you can build a sustainable and profitable practice.

Again, there are 2 issues:

  1. Are there enough prospective clients in the area? (Almost certainly ‘yes’ – tho you may need to wait for their current accountant to mess up before they will move to someone new – you!)
  2. Can you position yourself as the accountant enough of them should aspire to be serviced by? Having a half decent website (or better) and high ranking on Google is only part of the story and not a crucial one either.

Referrals

These are typically referenced as the ‘best’ source of new clients for accountants.

You should be aware however, that many who claim this are not looking to build up their practice quickly. They are happy winning a few new clients each year to replace the few they lose each year.

Establishing a sustainable referrals strategy is absolutely worthwhile. Again though it’s easiest if your clients, friends and associates can say something distinct, when referring you. Something more than simply that you’re an accountant (just like all the others).

If any of this resonates with you, then let’s have a chat (without any obligation)

I love helping accountants who want to STAND OUT and become more successful without spending a fortune on marketing and branding. If this sounds good to you, book a call here now >>>>

About the Author:

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

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