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Strategies for winning clients

Advice for accountants on winning new clients.

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Strategies for winning clients

  1. 1. Strategies for winning new clients With accounting firms increasingly retreating from the high street and moving to the cloud... Clear Books Must reads | December2014 pro-active accounting companies are becoming more creative in their approaches to winning new clients. Previously, accounting firms tended to pick up new business from referrals by other service providers such as law firms, and through the personal networks of partners. However, due to the anytime anywhere nature of cloud accounting software, firms are now winning clients from a range of different strategies.
  2. 2. Michael Beaver has been operating as a sole practitioner firm for six months. His approach in winning new clients is indicative of the way a new generation of accountants are picking up new business. This is in part influenced by his “cloud first” strategy. Clear Books has made it relatively easy for Michael to attract start up companies. Beaver says, “I’ve found that Clear Books is an easy sell to clients, particularly start ups who don’t already have software, or clients migrating from an Excel based record keeping solution.” Beaver also lists the “access anywhere” and “instant sharing” features of Clear Books as being two features that his clients love. He has also been able to benefit from the frustrations of older companies who are fed up with desktop based solutions and who are looking for a cloud solution. Beaver has found that his company’s website has also been a fruitful source of providing new business leads, and views it as being an online calling card for the business. Beaver says, “When people hear about me they can see that I am a legitimate business, see what kind of services I offer and what kind of personality my firm has.” Clear Books Must reads | December2014 Whilst the firm is based in West London, the company website has resulted in Beaver receiving inbound queries from potential clients both nationally and internationally. Google Analytics software allows him to keep tabs on visitors to the website, and also provides him with details about their location. He says, “I monitor traffic and where it is coming from with Google Analytics, which is very helpful I get several leads from my website every month from unexpected parts of the country, and abroad.” By contrast Beaver has found pay-per-click to be an unsuccessful strategy to incorporate. From his experience he has found it to be expensive and frequently resulted in queries from service providers trying to sell to his firm. The firm has also been able to benefit from being listed in online directories. One of these is Find-UK-Accountant.com, a Clear Books affiliated website which lists UK accounting practices, and also allows businesses seeking accounting services to post their quote requests. Beaver says that he receives “several leads a month” through the service. Michael Beaver The Sole Practitioner
  3. 3. Aidhan Accountancy Specialising in Consultants, Contractors, Freelancers and the Self-Employed The firm has been around for 10 years, and aims to deliver a hybrid model whereby the service offering is a mix of traditional high street accountants and online accountants. The firm actively promotes the “convenience” factor, which the cloud facilitates within their marketing strategy. Tony Dhanjal, the firm’s managing partner, lists these factors as being relevant to their target clients who he describes as being “very busy [people] who want to avoid visiting their accountant every quarter to hand in their receipts, bank statements, and other paperwork.” Aidhan Accountancy actively encourage their members of staff to become involved in winning new clients for the business. Clear Books Must reads | December2014 One metric which Aidhan Accountancy uses when reviewing marketing efforts is Return On Investment (ROI). If a marketing element is not returning the results, which the firm wants, then it is modified. Dhanjal says, “We measure the ROI’s for each channel of marketing we undertake. If we are not achieving our target ROI’s on a particular channel we will tweak it. If it is still not working then we cease using it.” Historically referrals from other service providers such as law firms have been a fruitful source of new business for accountancy firms. Whilst Aidhan Accountancy picks up a “significant” amount of new business via this method, it tends to come from contacts that are not service providers. The reason for this is that a number of relationships between accountancy firms and other services providers are long standing. “Referrals through other service providers has proven to be a difficult area given many already have established affiliations in place with other accountants,” says Dhanjal. Dhanjal says “We empower our accountants to go out and win new business and link this to their remuneration. This promotes responsibility and allows them to grow both their skill set and financially.” The firm applies an analytical approach to their marketing strategy, by regularly assessing different elements. Dhanjal says, “We scientifically record and track our marketing numbers. This includes which elements are working and which are not.”
  4. 4. HRBS Online Experts In Serving Online Businesses The firm specialises in serving a client base of small and growing businesses. A large proportion of these are online businesses, which have a particular focus on affiliate marketing. The company is fortunate, in that most new clients are referred through word of mouth. This means the firm does not have to use paid for advertising. Keith Silman, owner of HRBS, says, “I am in the fortunate position where new clients approach me via my website or personal recommendation.” New clients are attracted to the firm due to the fact they are tailored to online businesses, and the attraction of being able to collaborate remotely through cloud software tools such as Clear Books, Skype, Dropbox and Google Docs. In the first few years of trading the firm picked up a number of new clients through Silman posting on in online forums. He says, “This was a very time consuming but was a worthwhile investment as it also built up a reputation as a specialist in the affiliate marketing niche and generating client referrals.” Clear Books Must reads | December2014 HRBS is an accountancy firm, established in 2006, based in South Yorkshire, serving a client base all over the country. The firm’s online strategy has now changed to focusing more on social media. HRBS has a Twitter and a LinkedIn page. Whilst Silman is unsure of whether new clients have specifically engaged with the firm through their social media use, he believes that creating a digital footprint on the internet has helped get the firm’s name out there. In addition, the firm’s digital footprint is aided by a number of guides written and maintained on HRBS’s website. These include sections on starting up your own business, online accounting systems and VAT issues for affiliate marketing companies. A number of these are tailored specifically to the firm’s target market of online affiliate marketing companies. The most popular guides include VAT treatment on Google’s AdWords and how the flat rate VAT scheme works. Another pioneering marketing effort from HRBS Online is the firm’s own app, which is available for free on Apple’s iOS store and Google’s Android Play marketplace. The app was created by a third party company but features content created by HRBS. The firm uses it to provide both new and existing clients with a number of resources and calculators.

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Advice for accountants on winning new clients.

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