How to Say No to Clients Who Can't Afford Your Accounting Services

There’s one big part of your business that is leading you AWAY from the abundant business you dream of. It’s not know how to say no to clients who aren’t a good fit for you.

I hear accounting professionals say all the time they’re in need of business. So when a prospect comes along they take them on. The problem is that the accounting professionals may be discounting their services AND usually the client doesn’t meet any of their ideal client criteria.

Why then, do accountants choose to start working with these less than ideal clients?

From talking to hundreds of accounting professionals, I’ve learned that sometimes they’re afraid to turn prospects away, because they fear there won’t ever be another. This lack mindset is what my goal with The Abundant Accountant Podcast is all about.

I want to help accounting professionals start living their best lives by making more and working less. Or, working in whatever way makes them happy!

Taking on clients that aren’t your dream clients can be a huge energy drain. Obviously you want to help people, but if they can’t afford your services and you start discounting your prices you are going to start resenting the work that you’re doing.

It’s not good for you. And it’s not good for your client.

Besides being an energy drain, it’s also a time-suck. Your time is incredibly valuable and we only have so much of it. If you’re spending time doing work you hate, you’re closing off space for bigger and better clients.

My partner, Denise and I, will only take on ideal clients and we want the same for you.

One of our clients, Marc, learned how valuable his time was when he was frequently negotiating prices with a client instead of actually doing the work that was needed.

We don’t want you to be like Marc. Don’t waste your time on less than ideal clients. Instead, start working with those dream clients who are willing to pay you what you’re worth and whose work lights you up!

How do you do that? Read on!

Step 1: Say No to the Prospect or Client as Soon as Possible

People love asking accounting professionals for free information. They never hesitate to ask for tips or advice when it comes to taxes or how to save more money by paying less in tax. However, you shouldn’t work for free! By giving away the free information you are doing yourself and your client a disservice.

If you start giving out free information, the individuals will likely hear what you say but never take action on it.

It’s so easy to ask for that information, but if there isn’t any money on the line people are less likely to do the necessary work.

So, if someone approaches you and starts asking for free information, inquire about what they’re looking for and if it’s a service you provide. Set-up some time to meet and see if they’re an ideal client, someone you want to actually work with, and if you can really help solve their problem.

You deserve to be compensated for your work!

It’s also important to remember that you want to stop giving discounts to potential clients.

I was working with a client named Barbara. Barbara told me on a few different occasions that she wasn’t able to afford my services.

What I knew to be true was that I could really help Barbara, but she couldn’t afford it. She didn’t have the budget to cover my fees. However, I knew of another way I could help her…

I referred her to my friend Sean’s Money Mind Academy, because she didn’t yet have the mindset around creating a six-figure business. So I saw that as step one for Barbara.

I know it can be scary, you have your CPA license, and a ton of student debt, but you can’t seem to charge the prices that you desire, so stop trying to force it and take a course (like Sean’s) to get your head right. Then, trust me, your dream clients who will pay you what you’re worth, and the money will start rolling in.

Step 2: Transparency is the Name of the Game

I had a client who was working with a CPA. After they agreed to a certain price per hour to do bookkeeping services, the CPA sent out an invoice for double the rate that they had already been agreed upon.

Why did they do this? My client had no idea and it left a bad taste in my client’s mouth.

Obviously, transparency is important. You want things to be fair for you and for your clients and doing something like this will absolutely leave you with a bad reputation.

As the accounting professional, it is your job to be transparent. Explain to clients a fair price that you feel comfortable with. You want it to be something that you are going to value, and something that you won’t be changing on them.

Another important area to be transparent about is what types of services you are going to offer to clients.

If a prospect comes to you and they’re asking you questions about something that isn’t in your wheelhouse or area of expertise, you want to let them know that. Simply let them know it isn’t your area of expertise, but that you would be happy to refer them to someone that you think could better serve them.

I understand that it’s tempting to want to try to help any prospect that comes your way, but by doing that you start wasting time researching the work you need to do and you get resentful of that time.

Step 3: Do NOT Burn Bridges

Any of those clients that you’ve turned away because they weren’t a good fit for you NOW may very well be a perfect fit for you down the road.

You have NO way of knowing what the future holds for anyone, so don’t turn someone away and then never connect again.

Instead, create a solid follow-up system! Denise and I have one we love (which I’m sure we’ll share in a future blog post).

Following up can be a gold mine for you!

My client, Matt, set a goal that he would not work with anyone that made less than $400K in net income. If they made less than that it was an instant NO.

Recently, a potential client had created a startup and was looking to work with Matt. At this point, the startup was only making about $75K a year in net income which is WAY below what Matt typically works with. But Matt felt pulled to work with this guy and wasn’t feeling like it was a good idea to turn him down.

We spoke with Matt and explained that taking on the startup at this point wouldn’t be the best for him, but that down the road it was a definite possibility. In a year or two, this startup may be making well over $400K in net income and then he’ll be the perfect client for you.

Handling it this way allowed Matt to feel good because not only did he build a connection that could lead to business down the road, but he’s also referring the prospect out to someone who can better help him now at that level of net income. Matt’s building up his sales karma, which I’ll get to in just a little bit.

Step 4: Refer Prospects Out

If you’re someone who has loads of clients that approach you and not all of them are ideal clients, then you want to make sure you build up a solid network of referrals that you can pass on to prospects.

Some prospects are deal finders. They want to work with someone who will give them the cheapest price. If that’s not you, have someone on your list that you can refer people to.

When you refer a potential client out to someone who is better suited to help them, you are building your “sales karma.”

Sales karma is all about being of service to others, because when you are of service to others it comes back to you 10 times over.

When we’ve passed on potential clients that weren’t good for us but would be perfect for someone else, the person on the other end is inclined to refer our ideal clients back to us (so long as they’re clear on who our ideal client is).

Just the other day I received an email from a previous student of ours named John. John’s email went something like this:

“Michelle, I’m at an accounting conference and there are a lot of CPAs here who need your help. Can you send me that link to your masterclass so I can forward it onto a few people?”

What an amazing way to acquire more leads!!

When you do really amazing work for your clients and they value you, you start to see referrals from them start to come in.

Trust me, sales karma DOES exist and you can build it for yourself!

In Conclusion

Stand your ground and only accept the clients that really value you and your services, and never ever discount your prices.

If you don’t stand your ground you are doing a disservice to yourself and to them.

Work with the clients you love and refer those you don’t. Then wait for the dream clients to start filling your client roster!

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