Moving From Standard Accountant to Trusted Business Advisor
It is generally accepted that people do business with people, not businesses. To take that a step further, we do business with people that we know, like and trust.
Traditional Referral Process
In the traditional world, bookkeepers and accountants find new clients through word of mouth or referrals. The process is random and unpredictable. Relying solely on in-person referrals requires that the referring party just happens to recall your great service offering at a random moment when a contact of theirs happens to ask for an accounting referral. Personally, I want my business growth to be more predictable and easily repeatable.
Do not get me wrong – personal referrals can work and can bring in great new clients. The real problem is that most accounting professionals are naturally averse to asking for referrals from their existing clients. And, from a client perspective, there might be a fear that you will have less time to meet their needs if they bring you more clients. Asking for referrals can be a double-edged sword, especially if you do not have a consistent process in place. If you want to learn more about creating a process for referrals, I strongly recommend reading Bob Burg’s book called “Endless Referrals.” Mr. Burg provides a great context and a simple system for traditional referrals.
Online Referral Process
LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is a site that works exceptionally well for selling professional services like bookkeeping and accounting, especially if you have a plan for your activities on LinkedIn. One of the key advantages to LinkedIn is that you can measure your results directly. Most marketing experts agree that you should not undertake any marketing efforts unless you can directly measure results. My favorite LinkedIn tool to measure results is their Social Selling Index tool (www.linkedin.com/sales/ssi). The Social Selling Index tool is free for basic use, with a paid upgrade for more advanced functionality. Your Social Selling Index measures how effective you are at the following:
- Establishing your brand
- Finding the right people
- Engaging your audience with insights
- Building relationships
More Advantages to using LinkedIn
- Your skills and professional achievements are easy to share and are online 24 hours a day, seven days a week
- Ability to track results
- Networking tools built right into the platform
- Ask for referrals
- Ask for recommendations
- Ask for introductions
Keys to Success with LinkedIn
Like so many things in life, the effort that you put into LinkedIn will determine the level of success that you can expect to see.
- Complete your profile – include a professional photo, your contact details, current position, past positions, educational experience, and a summary.
- Be consistent – ensure that your branding and your message matches other Social Media channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.
- Research your target market – identify their burning pain points and provide solutions to solve their challenges.
- Write compelling content – you should have a clear picture in your mind as to who your intended audience is. The more clarity you bring, the better your results will be. Write content in your profile that will appeal to this audience.
- Demonstrate your knowledge – be prepared to share articles and insights into the unique challenges that your target audience faces. For example, you can share your thoughts on how upcoming changes will impact their tax situation. Position yourself as the expert and you will see referrals.
Take the time to learn more about LinkedIn and how it can benefit your firm. There are many resources available if you simply know where to look.