When I suggest to accountants that they call clients and ex-clients to ‘keep in touch’, my advice is often received with a shiver.
If you are comfortable picking up the phone and calling clients and ex-clients for a chat, you won’t get anything from this blog post.
On the other hand, if you’re like so many of the accountants I have worked with, perhaps we should examine what it is that is holding you back.
You may simply be shy and uncomfortable speaking on the phone. Or perhaps, you’d be willing to overcome that reluctance but you have other concerns, such as:
- Who to call first?
- It’s a while since we last spoke, will they remember me?
- They might be too busy to speak to me now.
- They might not want to speak to me at all.
- I can’t think of a good solid reason to call, beyond ‘How are you?’
When you have a genuine business related ‘reason to call’, I’ll bet that a lot of these concerns simply evaporate. Do you hold off chasing clients for outstanding data for example? Do any of the clients you call know how many other clients you have spoken with that day? Probably not. They don’t care.
If you accept that it’s a good idea to ‘keep in touch’ but you are struggling with the practicalities, let me provide you with some ideas to start the conversation. I’m sure that at least one or two will work for you:
- “I’m just calling to touch base and see how you’re doing as it’s been a while since we last spoke. How’s business?”
- “I’ve just seen something on the web that I thought you might find of interest”
- “I’ve just read something in [magazine/newspaper] that reminded me of you ”
- “May I ask for your advice about something ….”
- “We’re thinking of arranging a reception/party for [selected/ all] contacts and I thought you might have some useful tips”
- “I’m looking for ….. who do you know who …..?”
- “I met someone recently who I thought you might be interested in speaking with”
- “I recently connected with someone on Linkedin and see that you and they are already connected. Can I ask your opinion of them please?”
- “One of my [other] clients just asked for my advice on something and I thought you might also be interested…”
- “It’s a while since we’ve spoken and I didn’t just want to email you out of the blue.”
- “Have you seen the article about xyz published in ABC? Would you like a copy?”
- “I would like to test out something with you … have you got a few minutes?”
- “Please can I bounce a few ideas off you with a view to exploring who else I should be talking to?”
- “I found our last conversation really valuable; I wanted to thank you again and to let you know what happened ….”
- “I’m calling for no particular reason at all. You just came into my mind and I thought we should catch up …” (works better than you might think – especially as it’s genuine.)
All of the above are just “openers”. You can then continue with something like:
- “How have things developed with …..?
- “I’m putting together our budgets for rest of the year. Rather than rely on guess work I thought I’d be upfront and ask what the likelihood was that you’ll be needing us?”
- “While we’re talking, what are going to be the key issues / projects for you this year?” etc.
It’s probably best to avoid specifically asking for work but you can end the conversation with something like: “Well, it’s been good talking with you again. Let’s keep in touch, and if there’s anything you ever think I might be able to help you with, don’t hesitate to give me a call.” You must ensure that you don’t sound desperate – even if you are!
The purpose of your call is to keep in touch and to serve your clients, ex-clients and contacts better. You’ll be surprised how often this type of call will also lead to requests for you to do some more work.