Win new tax clients by keeping the success of the entire customer journey (from initial prospect to loyal client) in mind.
1) Communicate clearly to win new tax clients
When you seek to win new tax clients, it’s best to start at the beginning. Do you know what your clients and prospects want, especially in terms of communication? With so many generations in need of tax and accounting services in the market today, it can be a challenge to discover what a client truly wants or needs, or how they want to connect with you.
You have so many options for interacting with prospects, from traditional face-to-face meetings and letters to email, instant messaging and social media. How do you begin to know the best way to win new tax clients and retain your existing client base? First, identify how your clients want to interact with you. Ask them. Then make sure that you and your firm are prepared to communicate in that forum, whether online, through a portal, via text message or phone calls. You may recognize generational patterns in those communication preferences that will point you in the right direction to help you win new tax clients going forward.
Once you know how your prospects want to communicate with you, ask them questions to let them know that you have their best interests in mind. Demonstrate your sincere interest in their business and financial lives. Prove that you listen and offer the solutions they need for ongoing success. Whether you’re at the one-to-one stage of your relationship or casting a wider net to the masses, share your insights and knowledge on a variety of tax, accounting and business hot topics to gain their attention and earn their respect. That’s the first step to winning new business.
Giving your prospects and clients access to simple solutions through the medium they prefer is more important than ever.
2) Stand out from the competition
A rise in tax regulations, globalization, an influx of innovative technologies, and a greater demand for “always on” access makes it an exciting time for tax and accounting professionals to be in business.
One significant trend sweeping the tax profession is the rise of value-added services. Adding services in the areas beyond filing tax returns, such as accounting, payroll, bookkeeping, business planning, payroll and audit solutions, will always be services clients need.
In the 2018 Small Business Accounting Insight Survey, published in Accounting Today, 65% of people said they would use a professional tax service for taxes only in 2019. Respondents also indicated interest in receiving other services from their accounting firms. In the survey, 41% said they wanted more tax planning, 36% said they wanted help with bookkeeping, 23% wanted business planning consulting, and 22% said they wanted their accounting firm to provide payroll services. Have you considered adding ancillary and advisory services to better meet client demands, bolster client retention rates and win new tax clients?
There’s also a growing number of firms embracing niche or specialized accounting. By focusing on clients within a specific industry or profession — such as nonprofits, hospitality or healthcare — firms can win new tax clients and further differentiate themselves from the competition.
3) Boost your firm’s reputation
Strategically and proactively prospecting for new business can help boost your firm’s revenue and longevity. Do you have a voice and a brand that you can promote to potential clients? How do you prove that you are a valid and confident source of information? Why should prospects choose you over the competition?
One way to ensure you have a successful strategy in place to win new tax clients is to enhance your firm’s reputation — both online and in your community (including inside your own office). Your employees are your best referral sources. If they are happy working at your firm, they will spread the word among their friends and family. Employee satisfaction and fulfillment is a critical factor in increasing your firm’s reputation out in the world. But your employees aren’t able to reach all of your prospects on their own. You also need to extend your reach beyond your firm’s immediate sphere of influence.
Some useful reputation-boosting strategies to help you win new tax clients include:
- Provide regular insights on tax, accounting and business issues via social media posts
- Offer secure access to data to clients and employees via cloud applications and portals
- Boost your accounting firm’s SEO to maximize visibility and searchability
- Ask your clients to provide an online review of your firm on sites like Google, Yelp and Glassdoor and promote those glowing reviews on your website
- Host webinars, seminars, virtual conferences and other events to share your expertise and knowledge with clients and prospects
- Create a loyalty or referral program for your employees and current clients so that they have a tangible reason to refer your firm to their colleagues and friends
By keeping your employees engaged and clients happy, you can take advantage of their word-of-mouth and reputation-building referrals, freeing you up to focus on marketing strategies to bring in more new tax clients.
4) Woo your prospects with quality content
New relationships take a little effort. Your prospects want to be wooed. They are likely being pursued by your competition. You are probably not going to get a sale from your first initial contact with prospects. One visit to your website does not a client make. One email blast is not enough to garner a long-term commitment. One new fan on Facebook will not ensure engagement. You need to develop a long-term communication courtship with consistent content through a variety of channels — email, social media, mobile and more.
Quality content comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes, it’s a multi-bylined whitepaper. Sometimes, it’s a million dollar viral video. But essentially, quality content is any component within your message that provides recognizable value to the recipient. Value can be interpreted (and more importantly, is perceived) as helpfulness, entertainment and/or emotional impact.
Quality content could be a short paragraph that offers a tip or suggestion for using a product or handling a problem (helpfulness). Or a witty cartoon included in your email newsletter or email blast (entertainment). Or a video of the managing partner stumbling across the Find a Cure marathon finish line, while his family shouts and cheers from the sidelines (emotional impact).
In today’s modern age, there are practically unlimited ways you can market your firm to attract new clients. From email and print newsletters to social media posts and SEM, you are limited only by your creativity and resources. The best type of content to gain the attention of your prospects is quality content.
5) Make the new client onboarding process pain-free
When you do win new tax clients, how easy is it for them to be brought into your firm’s fold? Do you welcome them with open arms, letting them know what they can expect from you, when they should anticipate communications, how you will be sharing information with them, and how important their business is to you? Having a streamlined (better yet, automated) onboarding process for new clients can be a huge boost to your new client relationships. If the experience is truly memorable, your new clients are that much more likely to refer your firm within the first 30 days.
6) Tackle tax challenges with technology
Seamless integration with existing tax and accounting software applications combined with modern, advanced technology is critical to ensure work product efficiency and accuracy, client satisfaction, and your ability to handle the increased workflow once you win new tax clients.
Artificial intelligence (AI) allows you to find fast, accurate answers with a more fluid and intuitive user experience. You can spend less time performing tasks and more time focusing on your business.
According to a Forbes Magazine Insight Survey of 300+ executives, 95% believe that AI will play an important role in their responsibilities in the near future. How? They believe AI will help increase productivity, reduce overhead, improve speed-to-market, and transform business models.
With the power of AI, your staff can be efficient with their research, and you can be more more confident in the accuracy of the data, giving you more time to spend on more complex solutions that may require out-of-the-box thinking and advising.
7) Solidify your role as a trusted advisor
Accounting Today’s Small Business Accounting Insight Survey showed that 78% of clients want their accountant to be a trusted advisor. Sixty-nine percent preferred working with an accountant who communicated well with them. Beyond offering tax services, consider communicating your value as a true business advisor. With the proliferation of DIY tax programs, the future of accounting (as well as the path to winning new tax clients) lies in advisory services.
Consider this: 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day for the next 10 years. As Boomers transition to a new phase of life, they will be looking to you for more than just tax preparation. They may turn to you for assistance with retirement planning, succession planning, wealth transfer and estate planning, and more. While each of these areas involve tax strategy, they also require a more holistic approach to planning. By advising your clients in all areas of their lives, you can create stronger inter-generational connections.
When it comes to financial and business planning, Millennials shouldn’t be ignored, either. They may be a bit of a misunderstood generation. According to a study by Guardian, “Millennials…want the face-to-face advisor experience… Technology, namely social media, facilitates learning and researching products and services; [but] it does not replace an in-person learning environment.”
As with all generations that came before them, Millennials require a multi-disciplinary and a multi-generational communication approach — with a human touch. This is the true future of accounting.
Win new tax clients — now and into the future
To engage and retain new clients, a modern accounting firm has to be proactive, not reactive. What is your firm’s vision? Are you investing in the technology that will ensure your firm remains relevant? Have you built advisory services into your business plan? This transformational shift in mindset is critical to stay ahead of your competitors. Today, the importance of gaining new and loyal clients by offering peace of mind with the best in accounting technology and communication solutions is mandatory.