Whether you work for a firm, inside a company, or own your business, at some point in their career everyone is charged with developing new business.
Previously, most of that business development happened via meet & greets, networking events, and shaking a lot of hands. But now with varying degrees of comfort around in-person events, you may need to look for some creative ways to get more clients.
Here are 5 ways to consider acquiring new clients.
Define your ideal client. The first step to winning new clients is to know who you want those new clients to be. “Huh,” you might say. “I want whoever wants me and/or my company’s services, don’t I?”
Not necessarily, and you may not really be aware who the “ideal” client really is. First, ask your team for guidance, then look at your firm’s existing client base to see what industries the clients are coming from, what kinds of services you offer that might be a good fit for prospects, and which services yield a higher hourly fee realization. Knowing who your ideal client is helps determine how to explain your services, value proposition, and service offerings.
Have an online social media strategy. Randomly seeing what others are doing or posting is not going to win new clients but having an online social media strategy might. The key to social networking is to participate often and comment when appropriate—but don’t be self-serving. Provide expertise because you have it and know that eventually you will be rewarded with referrals and contacts. If you are only offering a sales job with each post, you will turn off potential clients and tarnish your brand.
Keep your LinkedIn page updated with information, experience, and status reports. Seek other social media to work in, such as Pinterest, YouTube. And even TikTok. Remember, while you want to have a social media strategy, there are no limits as to what you can do online if you are respectful of others and treat everyone the way you would want to be treated.
Ask your clients for referrals. This is one of the most overlooked ways to build business! Current clients lead to future clients. Recommendations, whether through social media or a direct referral, are the fastest way to get your foot in the door. People trust people they know.
You can also think about people you know from outside your firm or business world, such as relatives, neighbors, and friends, and ask them, too, for help. However, keep in mind that, like social media, this is a two-way street. You can’t ask for something and not give in return. Chances are your clients want to build their businesses as well, so take them to lunch or coffee and have a non-accounting conversation about business and how you can help each other. It really works!
Align with other businesses that serve your ideal client. Members of other professional service industries, such as law and technology, make great referral sources. Attend their virtual meetings and develop key relationships. The key to exchanging referrals with these groups is to be very specific about the kind of client you seek (remember #1 above?). If all you say is, “I’m looking for any new client,” then that does not give the other party very much information as a trigger to provide a lead.
Pay attention to the details. Give some thought to what kinds of actions you can take that are above and beyond the norm—the ones that really make you stand out from the competition, if you will. This starts with initiating great communications by always staying in touch and on your referral’s radar. Send thank you notes to prospects you’ve met. Pay attention to local business trends and update your online status with a business-related comment.
It takes time and energy to grow your business, but the more time, talent, and resources you invest in, the more you will reap the rewards of getting more clients. There is no limit to marketing and finding new business.
This article is brought to you by the AICPA Diversity & Inclusion Team. For inquiries about this or other D&I topics, contact Diversity@aicpa.org.