I have been working with accounting professionals for several months now, and each and every one of them had the same problem in the beginning: They have no idea how to identify clients that are ready to hire them and don’t take time to qualify their prospects.
They take each and every prospect on and then the work they’re producing suffers because they no longer enjoy it. I have good news, though! By taking the time to identify accounting clients that are ready to hire you and invest in themselves, you can take on fewer accounting clients AND make more money.
I’m going to share with you the ways in which you can identify the dream clients that are ready and willing to pay your rates without bargaining.
Know Who You Want to Work with You
There are going to be many people out there who want to work with a talented accountant, like yourself, but who are not going to be a great fit for your accounting firm, and that’s okay. It might feel scary and foreign to say NO to a prospect, but I assure you, it’s so important if you want to live that abundant life.
You have to understand which clients YOU want to work with before you can determine which of those clients is ready to hire you.
I was talking to a client the other day, and they shared with me that their main client was yelling at them and their fellow staff accountants. Plus, the client wasn’t getting their paperwork in on time AND was also expecting that the accounting firm would act as a personal concierge service. And, maybe most importantly, they were paying a very small monthly rate.
When my client took the time to calculate home much time the entire firm was spending on this one client and the amount of time that was dedicated to him, it far outweighed the amount of money the client was paying to the firm. This was on top of the poor treatment the firm was receiving.
Did my client really want to work with someone like this? My client decided that he was willing to continue working with this person, but they had to raise his rates. In the end, the client decided to leave the accounting firm because he didn’t want to pay. I’m sure it was a struggle for my client to experience this, but what it did was open up more time for new clients who were willing to pay his new higher rates and treat him with respect.
Recognize the Signs of Problem Clients
I want to help you avoid ever being in a situation like this, so here are four red flags that someone is likely to waste your time or not be a good fit for you:
1. If they’re unable to give clear and specific answers to your questions, they’re too far removed from their problems and it’s likely you won’t be able to help them (or they’ll never be satisfied with the results you get them). You need to have a clear picture on what the prospect’s problem is. Ask open ended questions that really dig into the biggest pain points and challenges of the prospect. If you can’t get a clear picture, they’re not ready.
2. They’re not willing to invest in themselves or they don’t see the value in doing so. This is pretty self-explanatory. If someone doesn’t want to invest the money, stop what you’re doing and run the other way. You are 100% wasting your time!
3. They’re price shopping or asking for discounts. Do not EVER bargain on price. If someone tries to bargain on your price, it means they do not understand your value proposition and they’re likely going to be a burden.
4. They can’t or won’t answer specific, pointed question. You can say something like, “I’m committed to working with people who want to grow their business successfully; is that you?” If you get anything other than a straight YES, they’re not committed and you need to walk away.
Recognizing when a prospect does one of these gives you the opportunity to choose whether you want to continue down this path with your client, or if you are going to turn and walk away.
My advice is to turn and walk away. These individuals are going to be a waste of your precious time.
And, just a reminder, if you take on a client who isn’t 100% committed to working with you at the level that you want, the work you do for them may decline because you’re unhappy doing it.
That means the more committed you are to saying NO to an unqualified client, the more you increase your sense of worth in deserving high-quality clients, who are willing to pay your higher rates.
This is what leads to that abundant lifestyle you desire, working fewer hours and no longer trading your time for dollars.
Knowing If a Client is Ready to Work with You
Once you know how to spot the red flags and get to your ideal clients, you have to determine whether they’re actually ready to work with you. Remember, even an ideal client might not be ready right now!
1. Does their verbal language match their tone of voice? This might seem confusing, so let me give you an example. This could be someone saying YES, but slightly shaking their head. There may be some uncertainty there that you’ll need to unpack before you begin your work.
2. Does the prospect use distance language? Instead of saying, “my income goals are,” they say, “the income goal is.” They are not taking ownership of the goal, which means they are distancing themselves from it. If they’re using what Ross Jeffries calls “ownership language” they could be a great potential client.
3. Does the prospect lean more towards the pain or towards the reward? If an accounting prospect is someone who moves towards the reward, they’ll be easier to work with. You won’t need to spend your time reassuring them about the purpose of the work they are doing, and what you’re doing.
I understand that this might seem like a step you can skip. You’ve done your part and know that they’d be an ideal client for you, but you run the risk of working with someone who isn’t quite ready for YOU and will waste your time.
Let me share an example of how this happened to me recently.
I have a student, Scott. I spoke with him about my 8-week accounting class about three or four months ago. At that time Scott didn’t have the time to take my course, but I didn’t know this immediately. I had to dig.
I started asking Scott questions like, “I only work with people who are willing to take out five to seven hours per week, every single week, for an 8-week period. I want people who will do the homework, and actually implement the sales process in their accounting firm. Are you willing to do this?”
He answered me honestly and told me that at that moment he didn’t have the time to dedicate to my class. Six weeks ago, Scott reached back out to let me know he was now ready to make the time commitment and invest in himself.
Let’s be honest, none of us actually have the time to commit to something like this. We have to carve out time for what’s important to us. And, since Scott wanted to generate an additional $100K in revenue, he needed to make the time.
I’m really happy and proud to share that just last week Scott closed $25K in business. All because he decided he was ready to invest time and money in himself.
However, if I hadn’t done my due diligence and determined that Scott wasn’t an ideal client in the beginning, he may have joined the course, not done the work, and wasted my time and his own.
So, PLEASE don’t skip this step!
Don’t Be Afraid to Turn People Away
Let’s say you have a client that is inconsistent with what they’re saying to you. You have a new client meeting and they are telling you that their revenue is $500K per year, but when you look at their P&Ls and their tax returns, everything is only adding up to $300K in revenue.
Maybe it seems like they aren’t very interested in what you’re saying or asking. Or, maybe they’re shopping around for other firms, clearly wasting your time.
If you observe any of this behavior, it might be time for you to tell them that you don’t think you’re going to be a good fit to work together. Offer them a referral for an accountant you know that may actually be able to help them.
Stop fearing the NO.
Saying NO and leaving room for people you can actually help is what will lead to even more abundance for you and your accounting firm.
I highly recommend you start to implement these steps in your firm so that you can easily identify clients that are ready to hire you now! Make a checklist and qualify every single lead that comes your way, even if you feel desperate for a new client.
Stop taking on every single client that comes your way and watch your abundance soar.
I would love to hear how you put these tips into practice in your accounting firm in the comments below!
P.S. Over the last 18 months, I’ve been perfecting something called the Selling Without Ever Selling System. Up until now only my high-end clients have had access to this information. But I’m so excited about this that I’m offering you a free coaching session so I can share this information with you too.
This system is all about getting your IDEAL clients coming to YOU and finally getting paid what you’re worth so you can build your dream practice and still have the time and money to enjoy your family and kids. If you’re tired of waiting around for business, relying on busy seasons, or guessing at what works, this free coaching session is for YOU.
Learn more at theabundantcall.com.