This relates to another question I was asked recently by an accountant who gets lots of leads but finds that he doesn’t want all of them as clients.  Too many are time wasters.

He wanted to know how he could weed them out – or even better, avoid having to spend any time on them in the first place.  This is not a unique situation although I think he gets more leads than most.

I understand the frustration. You’ve spent hours on your website, producing online content, using social media, commenting on LinkedIn, on PR, on prospecting, on research, making warm calls and maybe reaching out via email.

You may also have spent time and money with your marketing consultant, social media adviser, website developer and/or PR agent (though that latter one is less common among accountants!)

All this effort leads to a stream of prospects.  Often that stream is not as full has you would like. In any event you have been prepared to meet with all prospects (even if you can only do so online).

The annoying and frustrating thing though is that many of these prospects  are time wasters.

They can’t make up their minds.

They only want you to file their tax returns using their data and without checking anything or giving them any advice.

They are more interested in how low you are prepared to go fee-wise

They want free advice and then do not commit to engaging you.

They feign interest but then drag their heels when it comes to producing MLR documents and confirming your terms of business.

They say they are happy but then delay the setting up of a direct debit for your monthly fees.

Sounds familiar? Really you want to remove these time wasters from your pipeline before you commit to spending time with them.  If you could do that you would be able to focus your time and energy on better opportunities and on well paid client work.

Here are 3 things you can do to avoid having to spend time with time wasters:

1   Measure what matters
You are making life hard for yourself (and your team) if you count every enquiry as a lead. Suspects are not the same as Prospects. Increasing the number of Suspects you get making enquiries can waste your time if they are not the type of Prospects you want.  (This is the reason I do not have loads of free tax advice on the Tax Advice Network website. Sure it would lead to more traffic, but primarily from people seeking free tax advice. None of the members of the Network want to spend time with such people!)

Also, if you are getting too many enquiries from time wasters, this will impact your conversion rate. That should be a key metric but it’s much better to convert 2 out of 3 of the right sort of enquiries, than 9 out of 10 where most of them are time wasters and not really the type of new clients you want.  If you are getting the wrong people making enquiries, your conversion rate should be low otherwise you and your staff will be looking to covert the wrong people!

2  Identify what makes a time waster for you
My list earlier in this post may be a good starting point. Essentially you want to find ways to pre-qualify enquiries so that you don’t waste time with suspects who are more likely to waste your time than to become clients. Experience is a great teacher here and you can use that learning to ask key questions that will help you decide how to proceed.

3  Clarify your perfect client
Clearly not all prospects will be perfect in all respects but the more clarity you have here the less time you will waste with those who do not fit. Whilst I have worked on this 1-2-1 with some of my mentoring clients I can also recommend a free coaching course run by my friends Patrick McLoughlin and Andrea Moulding who run the ‘Perfect Client’ website for accountants.

I especially love the way they make clear the difference between the type of accountants with whom they do and don’t want to work. Their website contains a simple guide to help you decide if it would be a match made in heaven, or hell!  And I have seen how they have used different variations on this on a couple of websites they have created for accountants too.

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