Posted by & filed under Accountant, Bookkeeper, Growing Your Firm Podcast, Growth, Marketing, Marketing for Accountants.

Bruce Clark, Founder of New Clients Inc., has helped 4,500 accountants build a successful firm. He reveals his 30-year secret to turning a prospect into a long-time client here in this episode.

Bruce learned at the foot of his father, who was a million-dollar firm owner himself. It paved the way for Bruce to open and sell his first firm then open up a marketing firm for accountants.

On this episode of Growing Your Firm podcast, David Cristello and Bruce Clark dive into:

  • Who should be doing the business development in your accounting firm
  • The myth about social media and getting new clients
  • The secret to turning a prospect into a long-time client




Building a sales force:

Bruce Clark is a serial entrepreneur. He started off leading the marketing team for his father’s accounting firm, Garden Accounting Service. After which, he started his own accounting practice in the early 80’s before selling the firm in 1987.

At that point, he started a new venture, New Clients Inc. The premise: Help accounting firm owners find and close prospects.

It’s been over 30 years and the company has helped over 4,500 accountants build a budding firm. Some are startups working with a small team and little cash.

Others are million dollar firms.

As a one-time firm owner himself, he understood what made a firm tick — getting new clients in the door i.e. ‘get in front of clients and sell them services.’

He also saw a predicament: Most accountants are not cut out for landing new accounts. It’s not their strength or type to partake in the ‘thrill of the hunt.’ Most would rather continue doing the accounting work and not deal with the sales aspect.

Bruce believes in playing to your strengths. This means that if you, as the firm owner, are not strong in sales, you should not be out there trying to close accounts. Rather, you need to stick with what you enjoy most and are best at (perhaps the accounting work).

Instead, hire someone who knows what they are doing when it comes to closing the deal. Find someone hungry and passionate about getting clients into the firm. That person will represent your firm better and result in more closed deals.

The “old school” way of getting clients still works:

Back when Bruce trotted out New Clients Inc., the fastest/easiest way to get in contact with new business was to just call. It really was the main focus of any sales force with a few client lunches and networking events sprinkled in.

Today, you have Linkedin, Facebook ads, various 3rd party sites, Google adwords, etc. There are more, less-intrusive ways to get the name of your company out there.

Bruce respects those forms, but he still leans heavily on his “old school” ways — cold-calling. It helped build his father’s firm, his own firm and others who hire him as a consultant.

“About 3% of people need what you offer right now!” – Bruce

There are heaps of business owners and individuals that desperately need your help. Again, you want to hire someone who is competent at closing deals.

Yes, cold-calling a business, telling the owner what you can do — it’s not easy. But, Bruce says this is the fastest way to get clients by far.

The myth about social media:

Bruce has seen a lot of “get-rich-quick” scams throughout his long career. He’s also seen the major shift into “social media” as a way to get clients. He doesn’t think it’s as great as others may say.

Don’t misunderstand. He sees social media as a great branding tool. But, to get clients? It takes so much time for so little in return.

“You could make an extra $20,000 per year just doing social…which is great…But, when you want to build a multi-million firm, social media is just not going to cut it.”

Cold’calling is the fastest way to meet and discuss potential deals with buyers. You get someone on the phone fast and then you’re off!

That’s not to discourage all social media. Bruce and his team, at times, utilize sites like Thumbtack where people near you will get bids from you for service. He’s picked up a handful of clients from just doing that.

In other words, an inbound method, but it’s coupled with strong outbound efforts.

“Social media is not the magic bullet everyone makes it out to be.” Bruce

The secret to turning a prospect into a long-time client:

First, to keep clients around for a long time — you must understand their needs and frustrations. His father still has clients paying his firm monthly since the 80’s. This isn’t a coincidence or luck.

Here’s a tip to keep clients year-in-and year-out: Find some sort of monthly work. Bookkeeping or consulting per month is a great first step. These engagements line your accounting firm with tax engagements and other annual compliance. Business will always lean on the accountant who helps them regularly.  

Bruce recommends having a portfolio of products you can show them (especially products that are recurring) and be ready to fit the product into what the client needs.

That’s what gets prospects to close.

Most accountants are short-sighted and don’t see the benefits of doing regular marketing efforts. They get absorbed into their book of business and don’t realize the importance of a steady stream of new clients.  

You dig deep into their pains and desires — then, you morph your product, ethically, into a solution for the pain they say.

For example, if the prospect worries about getting trounced by the IRS, you position your tax and accounting services to  help combat the IRS. Essentially, you sell the benefits of the product.

All selling is: Take away the pain of the customer. To take the pain away, you must know the pain.

Do you use any “old school” methods to get new clients? Share below!

Related Articles:

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  2. How (and Why) You Should Intentionally Work with Fewer Clients
  3. 3 Steps to Landing the Best Bookkeeping Clients


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