For many of us, the pandemic has shed some light on the things that matter. Yes, it has caused quite the chaos by overrunning hospitals, forcing a global lockdown, and preventing us from enjoying the liberties we're used to. But if there's one thing that isolation with our families and ourselves has taught us this past year, it's to be grateful.
Another thing that we have gained from the pandemic is clarity. Time to think has allowed us to really see what we want, what we don't want, and what we need. And that goes for business too. For many of us, this past year has helped us figure out who we are happiest working with and who we just can't work with anymore (or just don't want to). To help you attract the right kind of clients - the ones you actually want to work with and who value what you and your firm do - and safely let go of the ones who drain your energy, here is what you need to do.
*This blog is an extract from our virtual workshop – How to get your head back in the game for growth. To listen to the full recording, download it for free here.
First, you need to change your mindset
We drone on and on about mindset (if you don't believe us or have somehow missed it, see how powerful mindset can be here).
Why do we drone? Because our mindset has the power to change everything. It can change our mood, it can change our behaviour, it can change our actions, and it can directly influence our success.
If you want to attract the right clients, the kinds of people you like working with or the types of work you love to do, the first thing you need to change is your mindset.
Many professionals tend to have a Fixed Mindset rather than a Growth Mindset, so to make that switch, here are six mindsets that you need to start living by.
You get the clients you deserve
You attract clients based on signals that you send out, so if you're not happy with your clients, you'll need to make changes to how you work. Be confident, professional, and strong with your principles, and this mindset will run through your business.
You don't need to be all things to all people
High-quality clients are looking for professionals; the crème de la crème in the area from which they need a product or service from. While you may think you'll lose clients by choosing a niche, you will only lose the ones you don't want anyway. Stop trying to be a Jack of all trades and strive to be the Go-to-Expert instead.
You don't have to take on price-sensitive clients
Nobody likes nit-picky clients who drain your energy and time yet don't pay you what you're worth, so don't take them on in the first place. Stay strong with your prices. After all, they reflect the value that you offer.
You can say no to a client
You don't have to say "yes" to everything a client asks of you. In fact, it is actually damaging to your firm and your level of service. Relationships are about give and take and, more importantly, boundaries. Your clients need to know that you are happy to help, but that they can't take advantage of you.(Learn how to say no to clients without making them angry)
You don't need every single client, particularly, if they make you unhappy
To attract the right clients, you need to stop taking on anybody and everybody. You don't need the low payers anymore. All they do is take up your valuable time, time better spent looking for and landing the clients that actually make you happy. It's a difficult lesson to learn, but the sooner you start turning away bad clients, the sooner you can work with the best ones.
You must reset expectations with clients when they are out of line
If you want to have clients that value what you and your firm do, you need to be setting expectations from the get-go. If you don't set boundaries, you'll lose respect, and you'll have a very hard time trying to change the relationship you have further down the line.
5 steps to attract the right clients
Now that you have the right mindset to change your approach, here are 5 actionable steps so that you can start to attract the right clients (and actually win them).
1. Create a growth plan and strategy
Is your current growth plan for your business: non-existent, in your head, vague, written down and looked at every so often or written down and looked at every week? If you're like many other accountants, you're probably in the 'vague' or 'in your head' categories. If that's the case, it's time to get a clear plan and strategy written down.
Start with your ONE BIG FOCUS for your business. What is your overall goal for this year? Maybe it's to win X amount of clients or it's a financial goal. Whatever it is, write it down and start working backwards. What will you have to do every month to achieve this goal? What tasks will you need to do every week or even every day to make sure you are progressing?
By setting an overall goal and cutting it down into bite-sized actions, you're creating a clear roadmap for the year ahead. One that you're way more likely to achieve. If you need help with this activity, download our free resource for How to create a 3-year growth plan.
2. Analyse your client portfolio
The next step to attract the right clients is to identify what 'right' actually means to you. Look at your client portfolio and really analyse it. Go through each of your clients and write down the following:
- The work you do for them
- The number of hours it takes to complete
- How much you charge them
- What your hourly rate works out to be
- Whether they are easy, medium or hard to work with
- If you like working with them
- Whether you are happy to lose them.
Once you have a full spreadsheet with this information, you can start to see who you really like working with, who pays the best, and what work makes you happiest. This is a great way to gain valuable insight into how you want your firm to grow and who your target audience actually is.
3. Identify your client personas
What is the key to attracting the clients that you actually want? It's all about creating client personas and going all-in with focusing your marketing and messages to really speak to them.
Now that you've identified the clients that you actually want to work with, you need to delve deeper into who these people are. Really think about:
- Who they are (age, gender, occupation etc).
- What makes them who they are (level of education, location, family/marital status, personality traits etc).
- Their goals, values, and personal aspirations.
- What their main fears, challenges and pain points are.
- Their interest, hobbies, and passions outside of work.
- How you can directly help them achieve their goals/ease their pain points.
Once you've done this, you will have such a clear picture in your mind about who you are targeting and what they want. As you can imagine, this is invaluable information. Information that you can then use to focus your messages on your website, social media, blog, comms, and pricing packages.
4. Create your marketing plan around your client personas
Marketing that's casting a wide net and trying to be all things to all people just doesn't make an impact, not to mention, is far less credible. That's why the next step is to create a marketing plan around your client personas. How can you address your client's specific pain points and goals in your marketing content? How can you adapt your message to show them that you understand their world and can help make it easier?
Even before the recession, good quality clients were not looking for the Jack of all trades. They were looking for an expert in the product or service that they needed, as that ensures a job well done. And that's the case even more now! The pandemic and recession have reminded us of the importance of human interaction.
What this means for your marketing is that you need to:
- Choose who you are targeting,
- Make sure your content is directly talking to them,
- Always be specific and personal in what you're putting out,
- Make sure you are positioning yourself/your firm as the expert and solution to their problem.
Need help with this? Download our free guide to creating a marketing plan
5. Ditch your 'D' clients
When you analysed your client portfolio in the second step, you should have identified your A-B-C clients. If you didn't already, look back at your portfolio now and you will see a trend.
Typically, the A-B-C analysis should reveal the following trend:
- 15% of clients make up 65% of sales = your A clients.
- 20% of clients make up 20% of sales = your B clients.
- 65% of clients make up 15% of sales = your C clients.
To put it simply, 35% of your clients make up 85% of your business. These are your A and B clients (your targets for marketing and sales prospecting, and who you focus on nurturing relationships with). The reason these should be your sole focus is that these are your 'hot leads.' These contacts are people who are in need of your services and they agree to your value proposition (i.e. they are the perfect clients).
The remaining 65% of your clients are, therefore, C clients (or D clients). Perform a lifetime value calculation where you subtract the total cost of acquiring the client by how much it costs to support them and provide your service. You'll work out the real profit generated by the client to help you identify who your Cs and Ds are. The D clients are the slow-paying, potentially unhappy clients who cause you the most pain (so ditch these!). The C clients may fall into a similar category but they may generate more of a profit, they may pass you referrals or they may just provide more opportunities for you/your firm. For example, the value of C clients outweighs the cost.
Build a client-base that value what you do
So there we have it. If you change your mindset and follow these 5 steps, you can start to attract the right clients who appreciate the value of what you and your firm do. After such a difficult year, it may be the right time to cut a few clients loose and focus on the ones that make you happy, so if that's what you want to do, go all-in and do it. You may just be surprised by the positive results you get.
Learn How to get your head back in the game for growth
Download (for free) the workshop recording of 'How to get your head back in the game for growth' and you will discover:
- How to refind your desire to grow your small accountancy firm
- How to have clients who value your firm and you
- How to create a high-performing team for your firm
- The power of taking action