4 accountants respond to a prospect’s initial enquiry

On one of the business networks I follow a member recently asked for a recommendation to a down-to-earth, friendly, non-judgemental, accountant.  He explained his requirements in a little more detail – but not much, although he did state:

“To be ABSOLUTELY clear, I am NOT looking for someone who has intentions of turning me into a major annual revenue stream. I am looking for someone who is good at remedial work and charges a fair fee for the very limited amount of work that is involved.

My affairs are VERY SIMPLE. I need support, encouragement and creativity!”

I have seen many such requests in the past.

Four names came up in recommendations on the forum. Each of the accountants then posted a message in reply. Surprisingly none of them appear to have made direct contact with the prospect. Leaving that to one side, just compare these four different approaches:

Accountant one

I am indeed an accountant with a personality! I look at accountants as being people who should feel like a part of your business, not a faceless person you send your paperwork to once a year. My firm look after owner managed businesses only, so we know what you are going through each year.

I’d be very happy to have a chat to you at your convenience if it would be of interest to you.
My number is ….

Hope you’re all enjoying the snow!

Accountant two

I can cover anything from a small tax return to also help with a creative solution to ensure your best interests are looked after.
Take a look at my profile and let me know if I can support you.

Accountant three

If you are looking for sole trader advice, then it is something I can help you with.

We specialise in self employed sole traders, and are based not too far away in [county] so a meeting half way would be easy.

There is no charge for an initial meeting, and we can discuss your requirements.

Also, we find that many of our clients achieve savings of up to 50% on what they would normally expect to pay for accountancy services.

The company website ……has more details of our services, as well as video interviews.

Accountant four

I’m simple.
Recommendations within [this was a link to recommendations he has received from a variety of people on the forum]


Four very different approaches.

Given that, in each case, the accountants had been recommended by existing clients, their comments are not what you might call ‘pro-active’.  None of them appear to have made direct contact with the prospect whose contact details are easily accessible on the site.

Only accountant one has provided a phone number.

Maybe they were concerned they’d seem desperate if they contacted the prospect directly. I presume they don’t use direct mail or telemarketing – which seeks to do the same things with complete strangers.

Or maybe they were consciously just going through the motions after having been recommended. In practice perhaps this isn’t the sort of client they want to take on. And there is a key lesson here. Do your clients, business contacts, friends and family know what sort of referrals you would like to receive? Do you know?

What do YOU think of these four responses?

By |2018-07-08T15:05:21+00:00December 8th, 2010|Accountants, Marketing and promotion, Reputation, Starting out|

About the Author:

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


  1. Aernout Fabius 8th December 2010 at 10:49 am - Reply

    This is so true and a subject I have actively invested my time in.

    Accounting by its nature is simple. Accountants understand the principle of double entry. Not many SME owners do. They are only interested in making enough profit to pay the bills and keep a good lifestyle. Their tax liability and cash flow needs to be set within affordable boun daries, including the time and service supplied by an experienced bookkeeper with minimal supervision from a qualified accountant.

  2. accountants for it contractors 9th December 2010 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    First of all let us understand the job description of an accountant? When it comes to accounts an accountant needs to manage all of the outgoings and incoming and to show a profit or loss statement to business director or owner.

    Accountancy behavior is not same in all the industries. It is easy to manage the accounts with small revenue and it is hard to manage the accounts for the company with huge revenue.

    All of the above mentioned responses are from different thoughts. A business who is looking for both personality and perfect accountant will certainly choose the one which is best suited to him/ her.

    The one and only thing which is required at the moment is the working ability of an accountant and his/ her skills.

  3. Nikki Pilkington 9th December 2010 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    How odd that none of them had bothered to contact the original poster directly.

    I also noted, although you may have left that bit out, that none of them thanked the person referring them?

    • bookmarklee 10th December 2010 at 8:13 pm - Reply

      Cheers Nikki. You’re right that I edited out such thanks but also that not all of them did (publicly) thank the person referring them.

  4. Jon Stow 14th December 2010 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    As someone does not call himself an accountant I would infer that the OP does not want to pay much for the service he wants and sees little value in paying an accountant for what he or she probably perceives as “simple” bookkeeping. The accountants recommended feel obliged to say something but feel they would prefer clients who were going to appreciate them a little more. Hence no one has been trampled in a stampede to sign up the prospect

  5. bookmarklee 14th December 2010 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Fair comment Jon. As I said in final para:
    “In practice perhaps this isn’t the sort of client they want to take on. And there is a key lesson here. Do your clients, business contacts, friends and family know what sort of referrals you would like to receive?”

  6. Tony Austin 16th December 2010 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    I would have contacted the potential client by telephone to find out exactly what he required and would have politely tried to find out why he thought his affairs were simple and, indeed, whether they really were.
    It reminds me of the surgeon who was asked by a patient how he justifed such a large fee for removing an appendix in a private operation. The patient said how simple it was, the surgeon only had to make an incision, cut off the appendix and sew everything up. The surgeon agreed that the work as described only warranted a charge of 10% of what he charged. The other 90% was for knowing where and what to cut!!!

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