Image and perception key to attracting new clients and keeping them

Way, way back in the day, when comedian Harry Enfield started making a name for himself, he invented a character called Loadsamoney, writes Commercial Director Ian Pick.

A plasterer, his catchphrase was “loadsamoney!” and often said while flashing wads of banknotes

Not afraid to flaunt his wealth, he was very much a character of the 1980s.

Everything we say and do communicates something about us. Everything contributes to our external image. Image is so important because the way you present yourself has a profound impact on your career.

A Rolex or a Breitling?

A friend, a sales guy who works in the gas and power industry, recently posted something on Facebook about opening up a poll to vote on which watch he should choose.

Should it be a Breitling or a Rolex? Both cost thousands.

The guy is successful and I have no problem with that, but when people are struggling for money and food bank use is rising, it does not seem like an appropriate message.

It’s a bit like an estate agent turning up to value a terraced house in a Ferrari or a Porsche; it gives an impression of detachment from reality.

Perception and reality

It’s all about perception and reality and I think when you’re in business you have to be very careful about the image being presented, which is very important in accountancy.

I was thinking about a lot of accountancy practices which have offices in central, often prestigious locations in cities. They look the part, but how easy is it for clients to access the place? How easy is it for them to get into the city for a 10 am appointment?

That’s a bigger ask than asking a client to go into an accountancy office on an industrial estate, some on the outskirts of town for 10 am. It is less stressful and put them more at ease.

Others may think their swish location better suits them, but in both cases perception and reality matter.

Looking for the trappings of success

When I was first coming through the ranks as a younger salesperson, we were told to make the big sales and the trappings of success, like the big cars and expensive watches, would follow.

So, if you visit a customer and the first thing they see is your £100,000 car heading down the road, just to have a fee thrown at them, do they mentally then make a decision: “Oh my God, he’s paying for his Aston Martin out of that.”

I would hazard a guess that 80 to 90 per cent of clients won’t thank you for you dripping in gold on their doorstep.

Some in accountancy may see selling as a bit of a dirty word, because you ask some practices who is the salesperson? The reply is often: “We don’t sell here. We don’t believe in it.”

But the reality is you’ve got 500 or 1,000 clients. You’ve either sold them the premise of what you’re going to do for them, or you’ve sold them the services that you’re going to provide.

Sophisticated approach to attract clients

I’ve been on multitudes of courses and one of the most common themes is something called a sales cycle.

You work your way around it like a clock to get the outcome that you want at the end of it. With a potential client, you can’t just walk up to them and say: “We want your business. It’s going to cost you £10,000 a year.” Because they are likely to say they will go somewhere else.

It needs a more sophisticated approach. The reality is the cycle normally starts with an ice breaker – a getting to know you, if you like. That then turns into a general fact-find about the potential client.

This in turn becomes an in-depth fact find which delves into business, finding out how many people are working there, turnover of business and growth potential.

Added value is beneficial to all parties

This can lead to proposals for the business and eventually the monthly cost of handling the business and you have a new client. Landing a new client has another beneficial effect and again brings the phrase perception and reality to the forefront.

As you spend more time dealing with clients on a more personal basis, there is the opportunity to further support them by referral and recommendation.

For instance, if a client has an electrical business and another business needs a rewire, or there is a builder client and another business needs a building extension, you can put them in touch with each other.

It’s added value, generating extra business and for the accountant, the chance of further referrals from satisfied customers and as they get busier, the need for outsourcing grows.

When it comes to GI, we also operate on the circle principle when it comes to talking with potential clients. We offer:

  • A solution that works for you – Pay for what you need and never more. Our services are available all year round, as and when you need them.
  • Available when you need us – The team at GI are available during UK office hours to deal with any questions or queries clients may have.
  • Our data promise – We take every precaution to protect their data using the latest technology and security solutions.
  • Technology partners – We work with all major accountancy software suppliers, including Xero, Quickbooks, Freeagent,  Sage, Dext, Autoentry, Hubdoc, Iris, Digita, Taxcalc, VT, CCH, Twinfield and many more.
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