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2 Essential Tips for Finding (Better) Clients

Published by Tom Wadelton on Sep 19, 2023 6:00:00 AM

Since math is a part of a CPAs business, here’s a math problem for you: How long can your business survive without clients? You’re borrowing a ton of money, possibly for a while, but eventually you’re going to drown under the weight of your debts. Finding clients as a CPA is an absolute must, and there are multiple pathways to doing it. But the goal isn’t just to find clients. It’s to find the right clients. To do that, you have to start thinking of yourself as less of a mathy CPA and start putting on your sales hat. 

If that thought scared you a little, you’re in good company. Nobody really becomes a CPA because they love being a salesperson. We became CPAs because we love accounting work. But selling is a harsh reality of running any business, including a CPA firm. In this post, we’ll walk you through two strategies that can help you think more like a salesperson. 

1. Put Yourself In Your Clients’ Shoes

The first step to finding clients (or the right clients, if that’s your main concern right now), is to put yourself in your client's shoes. Ask yourself a few important questions:Binder_Book_Custom_1663898562_8994744-1

  • What needs do my ideal clients have that are unique to their industry? 
  • What are the pain points my ideal clients often need to solve that can be solved by my services?
  • What ar my ideal clients trying to accomplish as a business?
  • What do my ideal clients fear the most when it comes to their accounting?
  • What would my ideal client hope to achieve as a business that can be solved with better accounting practices?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a CPA firm owner is assuming that you have exactly what your clients need. Perform some intense market research. Find out what truly matters to the type of clients you want to have. Adjust your marketing and sales strategy around the clients that exist, not the clients you wished existed.

2. Choose a Niche and Create an Ideal Client Profile (ICP)

Those questions above aren’t going to be nearly as fruitful as you want them to be unless you have a focused approach to who you want as a client. While many CPA firms succeed as generalists, doing so dramatically increases your competition. Yes, your client pool will increase, but so will your competition. Keeping with our math theme here, more competition + less specialization = lower rates and less profit. You’ll need to take on more work and have very efficient processes in place to keep a sustainable business going.

The alternative, however, is to specialize. For that, you’ll need to do two things:

  1. Target a few specific niche industries.
  2. Create an ideal customer profile or ICP.

Let’s explore these two concepts in a bit more detail.

Niching down leads to leveling up

We regularly talk about the importance of finding and establishing your accounting business within a specific niche. For example, at Summit, our niches include Creative Agencies, Cannabis, Law Firms, and Transportation and Logistics companies. Will we work with companies outside of those industries? Sure. But we focus our marketing efforts on our niches where we know we can provide stellar service.

You have to be strategic about your business in that way. Establishing yourself within a niche helps you narrow your focus and create a more targeted approach as you try to sell potential clients on your business model.

So how do you find your niche? We won’t rehash that one here since we’ve covered it in detail several times. We recommend you check out our blog post on How Determining Your Niche Can Lead to Big Business.

Create an ICP that Targets the Right People

And then there’s the ideal customer profile. An ICP is an extension of your niche. Think of it as an identity card that expresses the type of customer you want that fits into the niche you’ve chosen. ICPs are usually based on what is known as firmographics. Whereas we often describe people within populations using demographics, we can do the same thing with companies and organizations using firmographic data.

Firmographic data often consists of tangible data, such as

  • Average company size by number of employees
  • Organizational structure
  • Annual revenue
  • Company location
  • Industry

There’s no specific limit to what you put in your ICP, but you will likely want to avoid overcomplicating it. For example, don’t create an ICP that’s so narrow that you don’t have any clients at all that fit into it. Conversely, don’t create one that’s so broad that just about every company would fit.

Alongside that, take some time to think about BANT as you qualify your leads. BANT, which stands for Budget, Authority, Needs, Timeline, has long been used by B2B businesses to determine whether an opportunity is a good one. Most companies will qualify leads based on two or three of these criteria.

For example, maybe a lead has the budget for accounting services and the authority to make a decision, but they don’t have a strong need for it right now, and no specific timeline. That individual might be very early in the decision-making phase, so you might struggle to convince them to make a purchase; they could still be looking. But if a potential client has a budget and an immediate need, you may want to zero in and spend additional resources getting their business.

That aligns with, but is separate from, your ICP. Don’t treat them the same but consider them two parts of understanding which clients make the most sense for your business right now as potential high-quality businesses for your accounting firm.

Make Sales a Priority

Sales is not an easy task, especially if selling isn’t part of your personality. Many accountants prefer to be doing the fun work associated with the industry. But bringing in clients requires establishing a strong sales mindset and using commonly accepted sales strategies to improve the strength of your pipeline and the quality of your clients.

Want to learn more? Check out our Cultivating a Sales Mindset episode of the Modern CPA Success Show, featuring Mike Meilinger, owner of Meilinger CPA Advisor.






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