You’ve done the hard work of creating a brand new client relationship. But now, the true challenges of maintaining and building that relationship begin.
Your accounting firm puts a lot of work into finding new clients.
If you’re like most accounting firms, almost all of your marketing revolves around generating more leads so that you can build your client base. But the danger here is that you may forget to focus on your existing clients in the process.
Creating a new relationship is just the first step.
The real hard work comes with maintaining the relationship so that the client stays with you for the long haul.
That’s what Oompf Global helped Stuart Ramsey discover…
When Stuart came to Oompf Global (then TwentyTwo Agency), his marketing efforts had very little structure. With us, he worked on creating processes that would allow him to attract more clients.
But perhaps more importantly, he developed methods for retaining those clients.
The follow-up emails he sends to new prospects are crucial to these processes. Stuart now recognises that a relationship forms when a prospect sends him their details. To build that relationship up, he uses a series of follow-up emails that further engage the prospect.
This email series makes the prospects much more likely to become a client. And from there, Stuart can focus on developing the relationship further.
He says that the returns his firm has generated more than make up for the investment he made in us.
You can already see why maintaining relationships is so important. Now, you just need to know how to do it.
Tip #1 – Always Follow Up
The biggest mistake you can make with prospects and clients is forgetting about them once you’ve started a relationship.
This isn’t a “one and done” thing. You need to keep making contact. Show this person that you’re invested in helping them overcome their problem.
That’s what Stuart’s follow-up emails help him to achieve.
Prospects hit his landing page and send their details across to him. Instead of letting those details moulder away in his database, or launching into a sales pitch, Stuart follows up. He uses his emails to find out more about the prospect and their problems. He also offers value before they even become a client.
This helps him build a sense of trust into the new relationship, which means the prospect stands a higher chance of converting.
Never neglect the follow-up. Without it, your leads will just go cold within days of you attracting them.
Tip #2 – Turn Yourself into a Trusted Advisor
A lot of accountants don’t feel comfortable with the idea of being a trusted advisor.
You may see yourself as a technician, rather than a coach or consultant. And that means you may think that clients should come to you for your service, rather than what you can teach them.
The problem with this mindset is that you create transactional relationships. That means your relationships never extend beyond the client paying for a service.
If that client becomes unhappy with the service or finds it cheaper elsewhere, they’re gone.
By becoming a trusted advisor, you establish yourself as an authority in your niche. You show your clients that you’re the person to come to when they need help. And in doing that, you strengthen your relationships with them, because they now believe in you and what you say.
We believe that creating a Mastermind Group is the best way to become a trusted advisor. This type of group allows you to coach several people at once, helping them understand how to overcome their problems.
In doing this, you’re strengthening your relationships with multiple people at the same time.
Tip #3 – Sales Comes Second
There’s always a temptation to launch into your pitch as soon as a prospect shows an interest.
The problem here is that you’re trying to circumvent the relationship-building process. Yes, the prospect may show an interest in what you do. But they don’t really know you yet. They don’t know if they can trust you, which means they’re not ready to buy.
You’ve got to build trust and show the prospect that you have integrity before you try to sell.
The key point to take away here is that sales comes second to building the relationship. In fact, you could even say that selling is simply a by-product of the relationship-building process.
When you’re leading with the pitch, you’re alienating many of the people who want to learn more about you.
Tip #4 – Acknowledge Clients as Individuals
We mentioned the issue of creating transactional relationships earlier on.
This works both ways. You want your client to see you as more than just a simple service provider. But your client also wants you to see them as more than just a source of revenue.
They want to see that you understand their problems and care about them as individuals.
That means you need to focus on building more personal relationships with your clients. Now, this doesn’t mean you’ll end up holidaying together or anything of that nature. It simply means that you recognise the client as an individual and take an interest in their life outside of the working relationship.
This could be something as simple as asking after a client’s children whenever you see or speak with them. Bonding over a shared interest in music or sport also works here. The point is, for a relationship to be more than just transactional, you need to learn about the person behind the paycheque.
Tip #5 – Always Aim to Exceed Expectations
There are thousands of accounting firms out there that meet expectations. The firm provides a service and the client gets what they pay for.
It all seems good on the surface.
But the problem here is that you’re not wowing the client. It’s like you’ve settled into a monotonous routine in the relationship. Nothing exciting ever happens, which eventually leads to the client getting bored with you.
Your goal is to always exceed their expectations.
Impressed clients will keep coming back to you, because they know you go above and beyond. To keep building your relationships, you have to focus on wowing them, rather than just doing something they could get from any other firm.
Tip #6 – Encourage Feedback from Clients
No relationship is a one-sided thing.
There’s got to be a bit of back and forth going on, so that all parties involved have the chance to express their opinions. That’s why it’s so important to encourage your clients to share feedback.
There are all sorts of ways you can do this.
The most obvious is to hold regular meetings with your clients to discuss what you’re doing. Use these meetings to find out about any issues that the client may have with your service. Just as important, you get a chance to celebrate the wins that you’ve achieved together. This helps to maintain a positive tone that influences the relationship.
Beyond meetings, you can solicit feedback in other ways.
For example, using surveys on your social media pages can give you a chance to see what your clients want to know about. You could ask about key issues in accounting to get an idea of what people struggle with. This gives you insight you can use to create useful content.
Even something as simple as having feedback forms on your front desk or website can help.
The point is that you’re inviting the client to talk to you. This shows that you care about the relationship, rather than the revenue you’re generating from them.
Tip #7 – Show Gratitude for the Relationship
Don’t forget that it’s a privilege to work with your client. Out of all of the options they had available, they chose to work with you.
That’s why it’s so important to show your gratitude. A simple thank you note every so often can help here. You could also try sending small gifts out to the client for important milestones. Birthdays and work anniversaries provide opportunities to build the relationship.
You may even set up a loyalty scheme that offers incentives to clients the longer they stay with you.
The key is that you’re focusing on your existing clients as much as you focus on attracting new ones. Showing gratitude ensures that clients don’t feel like you’ve forgotten about them beyond providing them with a service.
Every relationship in your personal life requires work.
You’ve got to put time and effort into showing those who matter to you that you really care.
The same goes for every relationship that you form in your professional life. Your clients want you to see them as more than just a number on a balance sheet.
They want you to understand them and the problems that they have. They want to see that you care about them just as much as the money they bring in.
Use these tips to help you focus on maintaining relationships. And never make the mistake of thinking that you’ve done all of the hard work once you’ve brought the client on board.
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