The idea that accountants can increase their referrals by 200-300%, or more, seems to good to be true. We all know from painful experience that building your accounting firm with the right type of clients can take years, maybe decades, to achieve. But there are three distinctive routes in which referrals can come about that the majority of accounting firms do not utilize to grow their firm. These are Asking, Email Marketing and LinkedIn B2B Lead Generation. As you will read, these are highly effective in generating your best, long-term referrals.

Accountants & Bookkeepers Never Learned How To Sell

Here is the core of the problem: Most accountants have never been properly educated and/or trained in sales and marketing. To compensate for this omission in their professional education, they substitute economic measures and policy for sales and marketing strategy. They tend to view marketing as an “expense” to cut versus a necessary aspect in placing a product into the hands of a client. Just as selling techniques can no more substitute for accounting practices, economic measures cannot substitute best marketing practices. In a blog article in Accounting Today (Aug 2012), the accounting industry is in last place amongst any professional service field in adopting new marketing technology. The silver lining, as the article pointed out, is that the accounting firm that adopts and changes will experience significant growth by 2015.

No. 1: Referral Marketing Is Proactive

The number one way to procure and develop more referrals is by asking. I know that there are over 60 different methods in asking for referrals. Sales professionals will confirm that asking for referrals can be done in a professional manner. Fortune 500 sales teams use these daily to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue and their best “A” list clients. I’ve seen existing clients send friends and family to competitors because they thought that there accountant did no need or want any more clients.

No. 2: Email Marketing Is Still Highly Effective

A recent study commissioned by Listrak, and conducted by Harris Interactive confirmed that email marketing remains one of the best ways to communicate with and convert online clients. The study also concluded that more than two in five (41%) U.S. adults have made a purchase in the past 6 months as a result of receiving an email. Most accounting firms do not practice the best email marketing practices

No. 3: LinkedIn: The Top Social Media For B2B Business Development

LinkedIn is about discussing and conducting business and nothing else. It is not about sharing interesting cat videos or the photos of your kid’s Halloween costume. In fact, one study showed that LinkedIn was 277% more effective in generating new business than Facebook and Twitter combined! LinkedIn represents the most robust blend of referral marketing and social media for an accounting firm. Another study showed that 65% of the companies that were active on LinkedIn had generated new clients. But it takes more than having a profile, you need to know how to leverage this tool to get in front of the best clientele possible. Moreover, 37% of those on LinkedIn have a household income of $100,000 or more, making those on LinkedIn the highest income per capita public of any social media platform. And what reason are you are not using this for B2B development?

Watch And Wait? Or Act and Flourish?

For the accounting firm that takes a proactive approach and begins to adopt proven referral marketing practices as above, they will experience significant financial growth in a field that has almost stood still. As sales and social media techniques have evolved in this face-paced world, adopting with them will be the difference between growth and stagnation.

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