Growing your firm isn’t easy. While steering your existing clients towards more profitable engagements is one way to boost business, at some point you need to attract new clients. That’s easier said than done, of course. The accounting profession is more competitive than ever. So how do you win new business? Here are a few ideas to turn your firm into a business development powerhouse.
- Client Referrals. First and foremost, referrals are the best way to find new clients. Your clients have friends and associates, and some of them could benefit from your services. However, your firm’s business development is not always top of mind for clients, so you may need to ask them for referrals. Satisfied clients are usually happy to send new business your way when they can. And, winning the trust of new clients is much easier when you have the backing of a satisfied existing client.
- Staff Referrals. Typically, business development is the responsibility of Partners in the firm. However, less-seasoned staff are often able to find new business and make referrals, especially when incentivized to do so. A firm management system that can track referrals can be a key part of creating incentives for staff to go the extra mile. After all, your staff has an interest in seeing the firm succeed, too.
- Building a Niche. Using the data that’s already in your firm, you should be able to identify who your most profitable clients are. Once you know what a profitable client looks like for your firm, you can set out to find other similar clients. A niche doesn’t have to always be line of business. Be creative when you’re looking for common threads. And once you identify a niche, make sure you tell people about it.
- Marketing. Marketing is not the same thing as business development, but it is a key component. The type of marketing that works for your firm will depend on a lot of factors. Your unique firm culture, the preferences of your clientele, and the type of business you do will all have an effect. Since it’s difficult to predict what types of marketing will be successful, tracking your marketing results is very important. If you can track what types of marketing are bringing in the most (and most profitable) clients, you can do more of that, and less of the things that don’t work for you.
There is no cut-and-dried formula for successful business development. The most successful firms have a variety of strategies that continually change over time. The important thing is to understand your clients and their needs. It may not be easy, but it will be worth your time.
To learn more about becoming a more client-centered firm, download the whitepaper, Focus on the Client: Developing a Client-Centered Firm.