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Develop new business with existing clients.

Develop New Business With Existing Clients

Practitioners should not approach practice development as an effort aimed exclusively at new clients. Obviously, accountants should always seek to expand their client base, but if they focus too much on prospecting, they may be unwittingly ignoring market possibilities with existing clients.

The number of new clients which accountants add to their practices may not be as important as the quality of the client relationships they develop and maintain. Marketing to existing clients not only affords the opportunity to introduce new products and services, it also enhances your credibility and cross-sells your capabilities.

Here are some tips for broadening relationships with clients:

* Schedule regular meetings. Be

sure to set up a schedule of

meetings that clients will

anticipate, and for which they

will plan. Obviously, the

frequency of these meetings

will depend on the client

situation. Approximately one

week prior to the meeting,

mail a proposed agenda and

ask the client to add any items

that he or she feels require

discussion. At the meeting

itself, a written agenda is

necessary. * Keep your name out front. There

are numerous ways to

accomplish this, some as simple as

sending cards on clients'

birthdays or anniversaries or notes

congratulating clients for

recent awards or business

accomplishments. You also

should keep your clientele

informed of office expansions

or new personnel, even if those

changes do not directly affect

them now. * Educate clients. The more

informed a client is, the more

likely he or she is to make

wise decisions. If you are the

first one to deliver that

information to a client, it increases

your credibility. Two

effective methods include

newsletters and seminars. Some

practitioners write and

produce their own newsletters.

Others subscribe to pre-written

publications on which they

put their own name and/or

company logo. (NSPA

provides members with a free

Client Report published

every other month in the NSPA

Washington Reporter which

members may personalize and

distribute to clients.)

Seminars, while often seen as a

prospecting tool, can be

custom-designed for existing

clients with particular

characteristics. It is important

that seminars not be perceived

as poorly-disguised product

pitches, but instead as forums

for objective, detached

treatment of the subject matter. * Maintain comprehensive data

files. Your files should

trigger periodic contact tied to

the anniversary dates of

meetings, etc. Files also should be

used to maintain non-financial

data, if available,

including information on spouses,

children even grandparents.

All relatives are potential

clients. * Keep a respectable distance. There

is a fine line between staying

in touch and being a

nuisance. Whenever client

contact occurs, make sure you

have a reason. Don't call clients

to discuss trivial matters. They

-- and you -- have better

ways to use time. * Develop multi-dimensional

relationships. You may have a

long-standing relationship

with a small company based

on preparing annual tax

returns, but that can lead to

other things. Don't let the

past dictate the limits of your

future relationships. Clients

will not be aware that you

provide other services if you

don't let them know. * Ask your client how you're doing.

Don't be afraid to ask you

clients to critique your

service and suggest ways in which

it can be improved. You can

obtain this input at client

meetings or through

newsletters and questionnaires.

The grass may be greener on the other side, but don't overlook opportunities in your own backyard.

Jan Walsh, CFP, is academic associate for the College for Financial Planning in Denver, Colorado.
COPYRIGHT 1990 National Society of Public Accountants
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Walsh, Jan
Publication:The National Public Accountant
Article Type:column
Date:Jul 1, 1990
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