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Seven ways to find new clients

Martin Bissett explains how you can re-focus your business to increase your profitability

The beautiful thing about being an accountant, up to now, is that there has been very little economic imperative to be proactive. The firm, and indeed the profession, are built upon a recurring fee model that removes the need to hunt and kill that most of our clients have to do to make their payroll commitments each month.

No wonder, then, that so many business owners see the accountant as the ‘necessary evil’ as opposed to the ‘company asset’. Where’s the empathy?

Allowing this situation (the reliance on compliance-based referrals to grow a firm) to continue indefinitely simply prepares you for a race to the bottom on price in compliance work.

Educating your market on why you are a superior choice to the alternatives open to them prepares you for a race to the top of price in extra work orders (known as EWOs).

The above is all well and good, but where do you actually begin to find those business who are both receptive to a conversation about engaging you for more than just compliance work AND have the money to spend on it?

You start by reigniting prospects you’ve once had in your grasp but let slip, for whatever reason. These reigniting avenues constitute three of the seven avenues that you can explore to win work proactively.

There are only seven avenues to pursue when reigniting or finding new clients to work with. These are:

1. Current prospects

2. Ex-prospects

3. Ex-clients

4. Ex-enquiries

5. Centres of influence

6. Wishlist prospects

7. Current clients

1. Current prospects: This is a business that you are currently talking to about working together, but maybe some ‘drift’ is setting in. Write down one prospect you’re talking to right now and how much the deal is worth if you were to win it.

2. Ex-prospects: This is a business that chose to stay where they were, chose to move somewhere else or chose not to make a choice about moving at all. Could you reignite them by getting in contact by phone (yes, phone)? If so, write down the name of an ex-prospect you want back and how much the fee might be.

3. Ex-clients: No, not the client that you were so pleased to see leave that you held a champagne party to celebrate their departure, but rather ‘the one that got away’. Name one of those and the fee you would charge if you could win them back.

4. Ex-enquiries: Easily the hardest category of the seven, but just in case… did you ever receive a phone message, a website enquiry or an email from a business expressing interest in your firm? You called them, they called you, you had a game of email or phone ‘tennis’, then life happened. Could you get them in your diary? If so, name them and assign an arbitrary £1,000 fee against them until you know more.

5. Centres of influence: Which influential referral sources in your town (bank, chamber of commerce, BNI, etc) should you have a relationship with but don’t? Let’s assume that they can refer nothing higher to you than your existing sources. Who are these centres of influence that you should know and how much would each referral they gave to you be worth? Write it down!

6. Wishlist prospects: There’s a great business in your town that you could really help get to the next level of their development if you only had the chance. Name them and how much you’d charge for that support.

7. Current clients: Most firms have 12% of their client base wanting something more from you, but not asking for it because they either don’t think you can help them or worse, they are asking someone else for support because they don’t think that you can help them. Name one that you can help and would be receptive to your approach and name that fee.


You now have a list with maybe £25,000-£125,000 of new opportunity identified.

In my session ‘The Cash Compass’ at the ICPA conference in Manchester (on 4 July 2019) I’ll show you the next steps to reignite your prospects and put the money in your bank account rather than your competitor’s.

• Martin Bissett, founder, the Upward Spiral Partnership Ltd. Contact him on martin@upwardspiralpartnership.co.uk

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