Is your firm full of clients, you’re working 12-hr days and you’re barely making ends meet?
It sounds to me like you need to start identifying clients that are really ready to work with you and stop taking everyone that walks through your firm’s door.
In this episode, Ross Jeffries joins me to share his best tips on how and why it’s so important to identify your dreams clients before you start working with just anyone.
It probably feels incredible to have a bunch of potential clients just dying to work with you, but if you don’t take the time to actually identify their problems and how you can help them, and find out whether they’re willing to invest in themselves, you’re wasting your time. And, as we all know, time is precious and not something we can ever get back.
Stop wasting your time on people who say they’re interested, but aren’t really ready to invest!
Do you take on every single accounting client that walks in your door, and then dread working with all of them? It’s time to start deciding which clients are right for you! Read THIS BLOG POST to learn more!
Here are a few key secrets we talked about in this episode:
- Michelle introduces Ross Jeffries.
- Michelle introduces the topic and how it affected her in the mortgage business.
- “Time is the one thing you don’t get any more of. You can always make more money but you could never get more time.” ~ Ross Jeffries on why it’s so important to qualify your leads.
- Not everyone is ready to work with you right now, and if you work with people who aren’t ideal clients, your quality of work will decline.
- Ross shares the top three ways to qualify leads that won’t waste your time.
- It is so important to share your expectations with your accounting client right from the start, and ensure that they are willing to work with those expectations. The ONLY correct answer is an “Absolutely YES” from any client.
- The more you say NO to working with an unqualified client, the more you increase your sense of worth.
- The more you are yourself, the more you’ll attract the accounting clients you desire, because like attracts like.
- Michelle shares some questions you can ask yourself in order to determine WHO your ideal clients are.
- Scott, a student of Michelle’s, acts as a perfect example of how Michelle knows when someone will be an ideal student.
- “The money is made in the follow-up.” ~ Ross Jeffries
- 50% of accountants do not follow-up with their prospects. Michelle is on a mission to help you change this!
- Ross shares three ways that he can tell whether someone will be or WON’T be an ideal client.
- Michelle shares this brilliant qualifying question, “I work with people who want to make strategic decisions, are committed to changing what they have been doing year after year, and are ready to act now to make a change. Is that you? Can I count on you for that?”
- Curious how to know when you should turn a prospect away? In this episode, Ross shares three ways to know if you should turn a prospect away.
- Michelle closes out the episode.
Learn More & Connect With Me Here!
P.S. Has the quality of your work gone down because you dread the work you’re doing for your clients? It’s time to make a change! Read THIS BLOG POST to find out how!
P.P.S. If you’re like many accountants we work with, you may feel like you’re on the cashflow rollercoaster.
There is a solution – a proven, time-tested way to get off that cashflow rollercoaster once and for all. You’ll be able to connect with high-level clients & business owners that you want to work with; communicate your value, collect higher fees with confidence and be paid what you’re worth so you can work less and make more money. Click here to sign-up for the Abundant Accountant Masterclass!
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How To Identify Clients That Are Ready To Hire You NOW With Ross Jeffries
It is an honor to be here with you. This is of my favorite topics just because all topics are my favorite. I want to make sure you all say hi to our special guest, Ross Jeffries. He will be joining me again on the show where if you are looking to grow your firm, this is the place to hang out. Countless clients have come to me struggling to figure out how to properly sift through the clients who are ready to work with you now. How many times do you have clients that come and talk to you, but they never engage with you now? We’re going to be talking about how to learn, how to tell who’s serious to work with you, and who to put in a follow-up sequence who might not be a good client for you now.
This was one of the biggest problems that I had when I first started out in my sales career. I was in mortgages and real estate. How many times did people say, “I want to buy a house?” but they weren’t ready to buy the house? They didn’t have the down payment. They didn’t have any of their financing figured out for their mortgage. There are 8 million different reasons why.
I couldn’t identify properly who was ready to work with me now, but that’s what my main mission is to help you all, which is how to identify who’s ready to work with you now. We’ll also have Ross’s input on that too. In this episode, me and Ross will share his personal experiences on the ways to identify clients who are ready to move forward right now.
Who will be able to apply a few of the things that we talk about? That is what we’re going to discuss. Also, why is it important to qualify leads? You don’t want to waste your time. How many of you think that there’s not enough time on earth these days and that each day just flies by quickly? You can’t waste your time. Your time is valuable and precious.
Can I say something? Time is the one thing you don’t get any more of. You can always make more money, but you can never get more time.Time is the one thing you don't get any more of. You can always make more money, but you can never get more time. Click To Tweet
We can’t get time back and your time becomes your money. How do we stop trading in time for dollars? A lot of counting professionals that I work with are still charging hourly. You’re still billing by the hour. A lot of that can get solved. Understand which clients you want to work with now and who is ready to work with you now. Not everyone is ready to work with you now. You might get clients who are also not the best fit. Who is the good fit? Who is the bad fit? If you get people that are not a good fit, the quality of your work will decline.
If I could add a bit of something there, when you get people who are not a good fit, you wind up feeling that you are the one who’s working for them. I will never ever work with anyone who thinks that just because they’re paying me, they can cop a bad attitude or that my working with them and they’re paying me means that I’m their personal slave.
Also, someone who doesn’t feel that they’re going to have to put in some work. If they expect me to bear all the work and they’re not willing to put in the work, I don’t want to deal with them because they’ll badmouth you and it drains your idea that you are the one who’s giving value. You are here to deliver service and make a difference. How do you do that if the person isn’t willing to put in the work?
Ross, from your experience, what are the best ways that you have learned your top three on how to qualify the leads that won’t waste your time, and who will not be a good fit for you so you don’t have a decline in work? I was talking to somebody. If your main client is yelling at you, screaming at you, or for the accountants, they’re not getting your paperwork on time, they expect you to be a 24/7 concierge service. You’re basically at their beck and call and they’re only paying you X number of dollars a month, do you feel that the quality of your work declines if you’re treated that way? Think about how do you want to be respected. Who do you want to work with? Those are all important elements. Ross, what are the top three things that you look at when it comes to qualifying the leads that are ready to work with you right now?
Let me work through these as I speak to you. 1) I want to make sure that they’re clear on what it is their problem is. I will ask questions to evoke answers about what their biggest pain points and challenges are. If they can’t give me clear answers to that, I know that they’re far out in space and that I’m not going to be able to help them.
2) if they are not willing to invest in themselves, if they just don’t get the point of investing in themselves and they think they already know everything, then what’s the point? 3) This is a big one, Michelle. I want everyone out there to recognize this is no joke. Your value and you’re worth, if they try to bargain with me on price. I never bargain on price. If they’re going to bargain with me on price, it means, ultimately, they don’t get the value proposition and they’re not going to come through. Never ever work with someone who tries to bargain on price. Do not do it.
Those are great examples. I want to give you another. Especially for the CPAs, you have a lot of deadlines. There’s a big tax deadline every year, April 15t. There’s a big tax deadline of October 15th. Some sample questions that you can integrate into your client meetings with a new client could be something like this. “I only work with five monthly accounting service-type clients every single month and that is my capacity right now.” What I found is the people that get the best results are willing to be committed. They’re willing to be coachable, and they’re willing to be action takers and get me their documentation and keep their QuickBooks in order all the time.
Is that you? What this does is it frames a question or a statement to your client where it sets it up so that they understand what your expectations are. Think about that or another statement question that could work for you. “I’m committed to working with people who want to grow their businesses successfully.”
That’s if you’re working with a new business maybe, or a business that’s been around for a year or two, is that you? What if someone’s not looking to work with a business whose, goal is wants to grow? What if they just want to keep cruising along and they don’t want to grow? In your ideal client profile, you want to work with clients who want to grow.
Can I jump in here and tell you something? That last question, “I’m committed to working with people who want to grow their businesses successfully, is that you?” If you get anything other than an absolutely or an absolutely yes or a yes, if they go, “Well, you know,” that’s a no. They may not say no directly, or they give you long stories. The only right answer is a short answer, which is, “Absolutely, yes.” Otherwise, they’re not committed. They’re BS.
If they’re BSing you or they’re not fully committed, this is an opportunity for you to choose. Do you want to continue down this path with this client or are they going to turn into what we were talking about earlier, which is wasting your precious time, which you can’t get back? Ross mentioned that. That client might be a bad fit. This is your opportunity to realize that they’re a bad fit. You can choose right to continue with them or you can choose left and move the other way and walk the other way. If you take on this client who isn’t 100% committed to working with you now or at the level that you’re wanting to play, then your work could and might decline. Keep that in mind.
I’ll say this, the more you commit to saying no to an unqualified client, the more you’ll increase your sense of worth and deservingness when you get qualified clients. The one follows the other. You must say no to someone who’s not qualified for you to be truly in the space of believing in your worth and believing that you deserve to get big money.The more you commit to saying no to an unqualified client, the more you'll increase your sense of worth and deservingness. Click To Tweet
With that said, that’s a perfect segue into getting yourself ready first. I truly believe that for your accounting firm to have the client of the abundance of the people that you truly want to work with and to have the financial freedom of abundance that you’re all looking to achieve, you have to be yourself first.
The more that you are that yourself from day one, the more likely your ideal clients will take notice and you’ll start attracting them. Like attracts like. In addition to that, setting up some boundaries. Some of the boundaries that we’ve been talking about are setting up statements and questions to ask your clients in order to qualify if they are ready to work with you now.
You don’t have a lot of time to be sifting through clients, but we understand that our time is precious. Who will you want to work with? Who will you not want to work with? Do you have any minimum revenue requirements or income requirements for the clients that you want to take on? Are there people in certain industries that you want to take on?
A couple of other qualifying statements that you can talk about. For each of you that might be interested in learning from me, these are some questions that I ask each of you because I know that in order to learn how to work with your client, sell your services, get paid what you’re worth, know exactly what to charge and not wing any sales conversations. You have to invest time in the front end in order to reap the rewards.
I’ll give you an example. I have a student and his name is Scott. I talked to Scott about doing our eight-week class. At the time, Scott didn’t have the time. I was asking him questions. I only work with people who are willing to take out about 5 to 7 hours per week every single week for an eight-week period, who will do the homework and implement a sales process in their accounting firm that they’ve never had before in order to close business a little bit quicker.
He wanted to generate about $100,000 in revenue from the dead business sitting on the table, and he closed $25,000 worth of business in one week. He had to sacrifice the time now to invest to learn what I was teaching him, and none of us have any time. You have to carve out time for what’s important to you. I was telling Scott this and he wasn’t ready. We got to this point in our conversation. It’s like, “I only work with people who want to make strategic decisions, who are willing to create a sales process so they don’t have clients that are wasting their time, and who can truly help and serve now.”
“In order to do that, you have to set aside about 5 to 7 hours a week to do your homework and show up to class every single week for eight weeks. Is that you? Are you committed to doing that now?” At the time, he wasn’t. However, he is now. From doing that, he was able to create results not only for his firm but also for working with his clients.
Every time that we’re not able to work with our clients at the capacity that we want to, we’re not able to share our gifts with our clients. They’re in a worse position if we don’t change. Scott’s five clients in his situation were paying upwards of $200,000 in taxes combined, all of them. If he were to help them, he would be able to reduce their tax liability by about $150,000. That saves five clients $150,000. Scott has to invest time in himself in order to have these powerful conversations with his clients. It can be a win for his client, for him, and for his firm. Sometimes our clients just aren’t ready to work with us now.
I want to add to that. I learned something from one of my marketing mentors, Dan Kennedy. Dan Kennedy taught me something that has made me millions of dollars, most of which I’ve lost. Dan taught me something. Dan said, “Life is a moving parade, and if a person isn’t ready at one point in time, something as the parade moves around and comes back around again, they may be ready later on.” Michelle is bringing up a good point about her client, Scott. He wasn’t ready at that time, but then he became ready, which leads me to say one thing. It’s not necessarily the subject here, but I want to add to it. This is a big money maker. The money is made in the follow-upLife is a moving parade. A person might not be ready at one point, but when the parade moves around and comes back around again, they may be ready. Click To Tweet
We will do a segment on follow-up. We’ll do an episode on that at a later date. It is an important topic and we will be covering that in more depth. I like to call it being professionally annoying. When you’re professionally annoying, you can make a lot of money. For each person reading, the follow-up is super important.
What I’ve done in research and have read is that 50% of business owners and entrepreneurs, and even in the accounting world where the numbers are even greater, do not follow up with their clients. From mostly accountants that I have worked with personally one-on-one or my group setting do not follow up. If you just do that one thing, I bet your return on your time investment will be 2,000%.
What you’re not revealing is you’re systematically professionally annoying. You are the master of systems.
I’ve been told that one too many times, but I take it as a compliment, so I’ll give myself a pat on the back. Ross, a question for you. You’re an accountant. You have to put your accountant hat on. You’re a CPA, you’re an enrolled agent, and you’re sitting in front of a client. When you’re meeting with a potential client, what are some words or things that clients have said to you where you listen and you’re like, “I want to work with them. Yes, they’re going to be a good client. Yes, they want to work with me now?” What are a few unique things that you’ve listened to in a client meeting?
Let me give you a slightly different answer. What I look for is congruency. Let me unpack that for you. I look to see if the verbal language is congruent with the tone of voice and if it’s congruent with gestures and body language. For example, if the client says, “Yes, I’m willing to work with you and I’m ready,” but I get this slight little unconscious micro movement, if I look and they’re saying, yes, but they’re doing this, I know they’re incongruent. That’s the first thing I look for.
The second thing I’m going to look for is to see if they make a lot of, and this is drilling down to the details. I don’t want to get too technical. I’ll keep it simple. I look to see if they use distancing language, which means if they talk about the goals or the income goals instead of my revenue goals, my income goals. Are they distancing it by not taking ownership of it? I look for that. If they’re taking ownership of it and using what I call ownership language like, “Mine,” I know they’re going to make a great potential client. I listen for ownership language.
I look forward. Do they move away from pain or do they move towards pleasure, towards reward? If they’re moving away from pain, they can be as easy to work with, but you have to know how to adjust. I prefer myself individually to work with people who move towards pleasure rather than people who move away from pain.
The reason for that is you’re going to have to constantly reassure the people who are moving away from pain. They tend to be more difficult. First, when you’re dealing with people, you have to hone in on their pain points. If they’re generally speaking, their whole orientation continues to be avoiding pain. I’m not talking about the qualifying process. However, while you’re working with them, when you’re doing that initial interview, they keep using language about what they don’t want, generally speaking, they’re going to be more difficult to work with. Does that make sense?
It does make sense. Can you sum up those three things again?
I look for congruency between their language and their non-verbals. I look to see if they use distancing language like, “The goals, the desires, the revenue,” and ownership language like, “My revenue,” and etc. Finally, I look for whether they move towards pleasure or away from pain. It’s not that one is better than the other, but generally speaking, people who move away from pain as the filter through which they see their world, you’re going to have to do more handholding. It depends if you’re willing to do more handholding, then that’s okay. I personally prefer people who move towards pleasure. Everybody does both given a certain context, but I prefer to work with people who move towards what they want.
Thank you, Ross, for sharing that. There is always so much genius coming out of him. It’s always technical, but he thinks it’s easy. I know we have a bunch of intelligent accountants and CPAs and EAs, so you can relate to the technicalities and hopefully, you find that helpful on your next client meetings that you have. Keep that in mind.
I gave you some of my best qualifying questions. I want to give you one more, and then I want Ross to give us 2 or 3 of his favorite qualifying questions. Believe it or not, qualifying questions will help you dictate who you want to work with and who you don’t want to work with. Here’s another one. I work with people. If I’m the accountant or the CPA, this is what you would say to your clients. “I work with people who are decisive, committed, and sick of paying too much in taxes and want to get organized with their financial situation in their business.” That’s another one.
Another idea. “I work with people who want to make strategic decisions, are committed to changing what they have been doing year after year and are ready to act now to make a change. Is that you? Can I count on you for that?” Ross, what are three of your qualifying questions that an accountant or CPA could ask their clients to make sure they don’t waste time? They’re working with people that are moving towards. What would you recommend?
I have to say this is a case where you’ve covered the ground so thoroughly. I honestly don’t think that I have anything better further to contribute. You’ve nailed it. I would ask them virtually the same questions and make the same statements. You’ve got it brilliantly down, Michelle. I can’t add to your genius on this one.
That’s impressive when Ross doesn’t have much to add on a topic. He’s excited. For each of you reading, write those down, implement it in every single client meeting conversation that you have. Let’s discuss when it’s time to walk away. Knowing when to not qualify somebody and when you should walk left or if we choose to go to the right or we’re going to walk away, we’re going to walk to the left. Maybe your clients are inconsistent with what they’re saying to you. You’re having a new meeting with a brand-new client and they’re talking about their revenue. They’re saying their business does $500,000 in revenue and you get to their P&Ls and you’re looking at their tax returns, and they only had $300,000 in revenue.
They’re clearly inconsistent in the data that they’ve given you. They’ve estimated higher and $200,000 in revenue off is a lot. They give you short answers. Maybe they seem like they aren’t interested or it seems like they’re shopping around or they’re wasting time by saying, “I think I want to change accounting firms, but I’m not sure.” They don’t seem like they are a decision maker and have no real power.
That might be a good time to say, “Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to be a good fit to work together, but I have a referral down the street. His name is Tom. Tom works with clients that are more of your caliber. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to be a good match or we don’t have a good vibe.” It’s best to walk away. I know Ross has more to add to this topic, but Ross, what are the three ways you would recommend on how and when to not qualify a lead and turn them away?
The first thing is, I’m going to say this again. If they try to bargain on price, they’re gone. The second thing is if they meander off into a story and you have to constantly bring their attention back onto your value proposition. A lot of people who are full of bull will go into long stories, and they’ll talk about why they can’t do something and give excuses and reasons. I don’t want to deal with it. Finally, and this is an easy one, and why people don’t get it, I don’t know. It’s if they’re disrespectful in their tone, if they’re condescending, even if they’re giving me the right factual answers, Michelle, and this loop loops back to what I said before about looking at congruency between words, tone, and body language.
Let’s say they’re in any way condescending or they have a nasty attitude, or their attitude indicates that they’re constantly looking for status. This is an important thing. For those of you who are out there and your main goal is to be of service, it’s not even in your mindset that many people operate out of a sense of hierarchy, that they just have to be of higher status than you even when you’re serving them. They mistake service for servitude. If you pick that up in their tone of voice, get off the phone. Get out of that Skype consult or however you’re doing it and recommend them to someone you don’t like.
Thank you, Ross. To sum that up, if they’re bargaining on price, send them on their merry way. If they’re meandering on a story or they’re just telling too long of stories, they’re probably a client that will take up a lot of your time, it might be best to turn them the other way. If they’re condescending in any way. My number one thing is for sure respect. If you feel disrespected in any way, shape, or form, it’s time to move the other way. 4) Looking for status, turn the other way. 5) A mistake between service for servitude. Did I get that right?
Never, ever confuse service, being of service, with servitude ever.
Thank you for reading. I hope you found this valuable. If you put this into practice in your practice, it will be very rewarding financially and very rewarding on the full abundance and how you feel in life. What I recommend is that you make a little checklist and you qualify every single lead, even if you feel desperate for a new client. You have your rent, you have your staff, and you’re that accountant that’s taking on every single client that’s coming your way, but then you’re not happy. You’re working 10, 12-hour days where you want to work 4 to 6 or maybe 8-hour days. You’re not enjoying the clients that you’re working with anymore. You’ve turned your firm into a job for yourself. If that’s the case, then put into practice what we’re talking about.
Thank you all much for joining Ross and I here on the show. If you have a quick second, please leave us a rating and a review on iTunes and subscribe to the show. I always love hearing from you. One last thing before I let you go. If you have ever felt like you’ve given away too much information for free and you are tired of not getting paid what you’re worth, then you’re probably like many accountants and you feel like you’re on a cash flow roller coaster.
I have a solution for you. Join us for our Accountants Masterclass over at TheAbundantAccountant.com to learn how to communicate your value, collect higher fees with confidence, and be paid what you’re worth you can work a little bit less and make way more money. Thank you much for reading.
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