How To Network For New Clients
David Fisher, keynote speaker, author and coach, has seen all the mistakes financial professionals like you have made when networking for accounting clients.
Most spend zero time networking or they don’t spend their time correctly when networking for accounting clients. David’s built a catalog of books you can use to learn more advanced networking strategies whether you’re a : freelancer, business owner, Linkedin user and more.
On this episode of Grow Your Firm Podcast, David Cristello and networking guru David Fisher dissect:
- The best way to network without doing “traditional networking”
- How just a few minutes a year could turn into new accounting clients
- Advanced strategies for closing the sale
- David Fisher’s Website
- David’s Twitter
- David’s Linkedin
- David’s Books
- Interview: How to Handle the Top Rejections (podcast)
- Interview: How to Generate Your First 100 Clients (podcast)
David Fisher started out his career in one of the toughest gigs — selling knives door to door with Cutco. It was this experience that taught him sales, failure, rejection, getting back up and becoming a top salesmen to put himself through college.
After honing his chops for a few years in the industry, he branched out and started his own company, Rockstar Consulting, to help businesses and individuals succeed in networking and sales.
His book series, “Networking in the 21st Century,” came from the issues he’s seen professionals and owners make again and again when it came to networking.
Most people go to networking events in order to find new clients, but they don’t do what they need to in order to secure new contacts as new clients.
The Right Way to Network:
It’s fine to take the time to sow seeds and reap benefits down the line, David says. It doesn’t need to be “sleazy” or looked down on for going after new accounting clients. Many accounting firms pride themselves on relying on simply referrals. But, there’s opportunity out there.
Approaching networking doesn’t have to be “awkward” or “uncomfortable.” Yes, walking into a room with strangers is nerve-wrecking for even the most confident people.
How you should approach an event is by thinking “I simply want to make connections.” Don’t go in looking for clients or looking to chat about yourself and what others can do for you.
Networking is a long term strategy. David recommends a new approach to your networking.
“You can be good at networking without going to events.” – David Fisher
David recommends reaching out for a new conversation each week. Invite them to coffee. Make sure while you are meeting these connections, do more listening than talking.
QUICK TIP: Don’t answer the question you ask. For example, if you ask: “Where are you from?” and your connection answers. DO NOT follow up with “I’m from _______”. It kills the conversation fast.
When meeting new potential clients/partners, make sure you have a strategic elevator pitch down. Don’t simply say “I am an accountant.” Become more dynamic:
“I work with small businesses to lower their tax bill so they can re-invest the savings to grow their business.”
See how much more “strategic” and direct the latter is? All you need to do is find what your core values are to your clients. Ask your spouse or a friend to listen. They can direct you if it is unclear, etc.
What Can I Do After Meeting Someone:
Meeting someone for coffee is just the beginning. That’s not where it ends. But, it also doesn’t mean you need to “follow up” with them every week. Remember, the point of networking is to simply make connections which could then turn into new clients; however, it takes time.
It’s much easier to sell when a need arises than to pressure it. Social media is the perfect area where you can add those “touchpoints” to stay top of mind.
Following Up Steps:
- Send email after meeting asking “Is there anything you need help with or an introduction?”
- Through social, comment on their status, share their post, like their update, etc.
- A few months down the line, offer another 15 minute call to catch-up.
- Repeat under a referral or they become a client
The problem is most don’t want to put in the extra few minutes to do this. David had a friend who stayed in touch with his former employer. After months of quick check-ins, the old employer became a dynamic referral source for David’s friend. People appreciate when you put in a little time and effort into a relationship.
DAVID C’s TIP:Meet lots of people so you can become a great connector and referral source. It will come back to you.
Closing More Sales:
There’s a common mindset that sales is something you do “TO” someone. Actually, David says, it is what you do “FOR” someone. Sales is all about solving problems.
David uses the example of: If you tell me you are a passionate Star Wars Fan and I have tickets to the new movie I’m trying to sell, I’d do a disservice not to offer them to my friend.
All you’re trying to do when networking is connecting the dots for your connection. They might not need anything now, but down the line, they might have a problem you can help solve.
#1 Reason Firms Won’t Close a Sale
They don’t ask for it…As humans, we are vulnerable and don’t like rejection. When you ask for a sale, there is a chance you could hear “no.”
COMMON FALLBACK: “I’ll send you an email” “No Pressure, I’ll follow up soon”, “What do you think?”
WHAT YOU SHOULD ASK: “Do you want to take the next step?” “Are you ready to move forward with this?”
See how the second approach is much more direct and vulnerable. Ask for the sale, then SHUT UP. Don’t allow yourself to talk the prospect out of the sale. Simply, ask and then wait.
DAVID’S TIP: If someone is on the phone or in person and ready to sign, give them a small benefit, whether it’s a free month or a small discount. Pay for a fast answer.
Spending a bunch of time following up and having discussions are proven not to add much to the sale. Nor, is it proven to close more deals. You want to get out of the gray area as fast as possible.
Many prospects might use the old: “I need to think about this…”
That’s not the time to lower your guard. Here is when you dig in and answer confidently: “I totally understand and don’t want to pressure you.Can I ask what you need to think about?” Then ask to see what’s missing from moving forward.
You can be OK with the answer because you’re more likely to get a straight answer.
David’s tips will get you away from wasting time with unproductive networking, and get you in front of ideal prospects and closing them.
How can you implement these strategies today?