As a CPA firm, do you get most of your new clients through referrals? That’s because consumers of accounting and tax, and audit services, on their own, are unable to differentiate one CPA firm from another. They rely on the recommendations of trusted professional service providers and community leaders.
The main reason consumers can’t differentiate among CPAs is CPAs themselves do not articulate how they are different from competitors. Generic, off-the-shelf websites compound the problem. Compliance service offerings don’t differentiate firms;
Virtually all firms offer the same services. In reality, clients don’t care about compliance services; they are commodities, a cost of doing business, and frankly – from the client’s perspective – the cheaper, the better.
So why should a potential client consider doing business with your firm? How are you different from the firm upstairs, across the street, or across town? Combined experience of firm partners, years in business, or size does not matter to clients nor does it differentiate your firm.
The answer lies in adding value to a prospect’s business. What does a prospect really want from a CPA? Clients want a trusted advisor they can go to for advice to solve a problem and help them become more successful.
Industry expertise is a differentiator as is service-offering specialization (business advisory, strategic planning, estate planning, business succession etc.). Referral partners need to be aware of these differentiators to recommend prospects most closely aligned with your ideal client profile, service offerings, and industry expertise.
Bringing value to the client relationship is the ultimate differentiator. Go beyond your core competencies. Here are a few ideas:
Become a referral source for potential suppliers or customers for your client.
Refer a specialist in cost reduction.
Introduce clients to executive training.
Recommend your client have an informal board of directors and help put it together.
Recognize your client’s business achievements or community contributions.
Become an advocate on behalf of your client when adverse legislation has been passed or is being proposed.
Find them a source of credit or negotiate a large purchase (car, house, building or business acquisition) on their behalf.
When you buy gifts, think of buying the products or services from your clients’ business.
Tells stories of client success based on your thought leadership and introductions to others. How you solved a problem for a client and the benefits derived will resonate well with prospective clients.
The subliminal marketing message – Why consider doing business with our firm that a prospect wants to hear “sounds” like this: We care about the financial health and success of your business, your risk management concerns, your wealth accumulation, preservation and distribution objectives and asset protection needs. We take the necessary time and investment to understand your business and industry, we ask the right questions; we listen to what you want, your concerns and your opportunities. We will connect you to the best professionals our community has to offer and lead a team in a collaborative effort to solve or prevent a problem or explore a business opportunity. Our mission is to help you define and achieve success, to make your life easier with less stress, and to become your “most trusted advisor”.
Published with permission from Bill Tsotsos © Copyright Bill Tsotsos