#AAYP 2015: How to move from billing, to winning business

IT’S A QUESTION I get asked weekly.

“How do I start to win my own clients when I have no time for business development?”

In my view, the accountants who make the transition from solely concentrating on client delivery to adding in business development responsibilities are able to focus in three key ways. Here are the ways in which they focus:

1. Have a very narrow focus on the type of clients you want to win
You don’t have to be a genius at maths to realise that if you split your available time resource to build a strong profile within two different sectors, you wouldn’t be as successful as if you only focus on building your profile in one sector.

Many accountants worry that they will narrow their marketplace too much by having a narrow focus. If you want to start your own client portfolio you need to be thinking about being a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond. Only when your client portfolio grows and becomes established can you afford to think about diversifying.

2. Focus on truly getting to know WHAT triggers your ideal client to buy your services
It is not just accountants that do this. Pretty much most professional advisers ‘think’ they know their ideal client well enough. However, most don’t. Even with compliance-based services, it is worthwhile spending time with your ideal clients to really understand their view of their world.

When you can, excuse my cliché here, truly talk their language and know the ‘what’ and ‘why’ for them buying your services; your ability to attract and convert new clients will increase significantly.

3. Allocate focused diary time every week to business development
The accountants who make this transition tend to treat their business development plan and routine as if it is one of their best clients. I.e. they allocate daily and weekly diary time to business development.

Their business development plan tends to be a living and breathing document. I.e. it gets reviewed and updated regularly, rather than languishing in a drawer. In effect, they prioritise their business development even when their client workload is high.

Heather Townsend has helped her clients add over £1m of new business to their client portfolios in the past 12 months. She is the author of ‘The Go-To Expert’, ‘The FT Guide To Business Networking’ and co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’

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