You’re considered a nice person. You’ve got kids, a mortgage and a car loan perhaps ‒ pretty much like most other people. You do a good job, at least in your mind. Your clients all seem satisfied.

So you’re probably wondering how come your customers don’t automatically refer you to family, friends and business associates.

There are two very broad reasons for this.

First of all, almost nothing happens automatically (except for bad things). Think about that new car warranty you got. You know once it expires things will start to go wrong with your car. It’s like clockwork.

And, of course, these things all worked fine when the warranty was in place. But once the warranty expired, you had that car in at the dealers on a regular basis. You probably got to know your service manager real well. And he got to know you reasonably well too, considering you were helping to pay his/her mortgage and feed his/her kids.

The second reason is it’s not their job. Your client is not your sales person. Their job is to give you money and they are fulfilling their end of the bargain, in most cases. Besides, they’ve got other things to do.

Let me give you some tips that might (probably will) tip the scales in your favour.

Tip #1 – You Need A System

Build a system2When it comes to getting your clients to refer new clients (or just prospects) you can not leave this to chance, there must be a system.

Central to a system is a regular process of seeking, cultivating and nurturing the entire process of gaining referrals.

Similarly, someone in your Practice must be given the task of the ‘running the system’ AND ALL TEAM MEMBERS must be engaged in supporting the system and process.

One the world’s most successful copy writers and marketers is Dan Kennedy and he has developed ‘The Ultimate Referral System’ which for just a few hundred $$’s would be a great start for developing and implementing YOUR referral system.

PS I don’t make any money from this. I just thought you should know!

Tip #2 – You Lack a Strong Value Proposition

Value propositionFor the most part Accountants in Public Practice look and sound the same. Not only does this comment cover your ‘elevator pitch’ (if you have one) but also your web site and newsletters.

Many Practices use what I call ‘canned’ templates with just a change in the logo and address to differentiate yours from the other 200 or 300 who use the same template.

(See Eddie Bryant’s guest blog – 5 Undesirable Characteristics I Found Writing Website Copy for Accounting Practices – if you want to learn more about this.)

Also the newsletters I see that come with these types of web sites. All the same, or as close to the same as you’d ever get. Same subjects (taxation being the dominant one) and little else.

Very few Practices know or have a point of difference.

So even if a few of your clients was willing to refer prospects to you, would they know why. It can’t be because you’re a nice man or woman, or that you save them money. It has to be something special. The sort of special like concrete is to foundations in a building. If it wasn’t there the building would collapse.

So what is the ‘concrete’ that strengthens your relationship with your clients?

Tip #3 – You Don’t Offer Any Motive

giving a giftWhat many Practices think of when asked the question ‘do you offer any incentive for a client to give you a referral?’ the response is most likely to be one where the incentive is focused on the referrer, not the referee.

A fairly natural thought I’d imagine, but this notion is incorrect. You are ‘incentivising’ the wrong person and here’s why.

People love to give a gift. Why? Because it gives ‘the giver’ a real buzz when they see the look of gratitude on the face of the person receiving the gift. That’s why.

Isn’t this what motivates you to give a gift?

So if you want to get clients motivated to create or pass on a referral to you, give them a spectacular gift they can offer their friend or business associate. And their gift (incentive) will be the reaction of the person they give it to.

Tip #4 – Your Target Market Is Ill Defined

target marketSo who is it that you’re actually to do business with and for?

The client who’s forever on the telephone asking questions that if they’d read what you’ve just sent them would already know the answer?

Or the client who wants their work done IMMEDIATELY and then expect you to wait forever to get paid?

These are most likely not your ‘A’ class clients.

If you want referrals, you only want ones that at a least a ‘B’ with all the indicators of becoming an ‘A’.

Our ‘Client Analyser’ is a great tool to help you find who your ‘A’ Class clients are. Not just the ones with the highest fees, even though this is a nice start, you also want to identify those that are the easiest to deal and hopefully give you a regular flow of referrals too.

Take a look at Client Analyser here.

Tip #5 – Put In the Effort

effort2You’ve heard the expression ‘ there’s no such thing as a free lunch’, right? Well it’s the same with business, there’s no such thing as a free client (or referral).

Put simply, your perfect client will not just walk through the door and hand their business over to you. You’re going to have to work for it.

Now don’t get all worried about having to spend $000’s or even $’000’s but what you’ll have to be willing to do is provide value UP FRONT.

Value could come from things like:

  • Access to FREE video on business structuring for tax minimisation, or
  • FREE tickets or an invitation to an upcoming webinar or workshop on profit and cash flow maximisation strategies.

As an illustration and speaking solely from the male perspective, there is no way any worthwhile woman is going to go out on a date with a guy they’ve just been introduced to by one of their friends until after the guy has proved his worth.

There’s too much emotion tied up in the whole process and most of us have had bad relationships that remind us to think very carefully before jumping into a new one too soon and getting burned.


You deserve this

And the bottom line is, if you are doing a good, no a GREAT job for you clients, delivering real value and building incredible relationships you deserve more and more clients who will value what you provide.

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