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?