It’s all to easy to assume that all clients want the same things. But unless you ask, you won’t know for sure.
It’s probably true that most clients want their accountants to help them pay less tax and to keep them straight with the authorities. Probably true. For most. But these may not be the key priorities that explain why all of your clients have you as their accountant.
Equally it may not be what everyone has uppermost in their mind when they look for a new accountant. Many may take these services for granted and be looking at other issues – whether that’s reduced fees, a wider range of services, a more pro-active approach, faster service or more accessible advice.
An accountant told me recently that he thought all of his business clients wanted him to help them to earn more money as well as to pay less tax. He may be right. But equally, unless he asks them he won’t know who values his business advice and who thinks he is simply interfering.
Another accountant charges very low fees and believes that this is more important to his clients than advice on anything beyond the basics. He may be right. Equally he may have some clients who would happily pay more for more advice.
Another mentor to accountants tells me he thinks that all accountants consider themselves to be business advisers already. That’s not my experience.
The accountants I work with tend to want my help, support and advice to improve the rate at which they take on new clients, to increase their fees and to be more successful. But I never assume. I always ask. In my experience very few want to be held accountable for the things they hope to do between our conversations. But I never assume. I always ask.
Even if you know your current clients well, can you assume that all prospective new clients want the same things? What element of your service do you highlight on your website, your marketing materials, in your networking stories and in your online profiles?
Of course you will be considered much the same as other accountants if you sound just like all the others and what you say isn’t distinct in some way. This makes it more challenging to win over new clients – indeed it makes it less likely they will get in touch. And those who do are more likely to be focused on compliance and/or on the fees you quote. Are they really the type of new clients you want?
It’s all very well to promote your services by reference to assumptions as to what matters to most prospects for your services. But at an early point you need to check what matters to them most.
Unless you ask them, you won’t know will you?
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