January is historically the time when the need to be unavailable due to the tax returns deadline leaves accountants in practice entirely focused on that process. But what does that mean if you are not talking to your clients? With your guard down you could be inviting competitors who have seen the opportunity to target your clients, knowing you are not going to possibly be available to talk to them?
This subject could be approached in two ways; how do you defend your territory and how do you use the opportunity to counter attack?
Defence - is it the best form of offence?
If you are looking to keep your clients happy then it could be a great time to keep the communication pipeline well-oiled and assure them that you are there for their needs and look at any development opportunity through a casual conversation or correspondence. The more you are at the forefront of their minds, the better the retention rate is likely to be in the field of battle with any competitive threat.
So if you are doing tax returns anyway then the need to talk actively to your clients about their business is a must? The other clients also have to figure in your communication plans and it is important to put a rank against them, so you understand the importance to your business of each client. For instance you may have an 'A' grade client list and may want to look at if any B grades are capable of being developed to A, C's to B etc.
The A client list should always be part of your premium class communications rather like travelling business class; it would be a good idea to look at reinforcing yourself with the right pampering messages and techniques. These could be good gateways for your other services and they may refer other clients to you.
As we have blogged about developing clients you may want to read the following:
If you don't ask, you don't get
Turning clients into advocates
How to generate more referrals from existing clients
How to get more from your current clients steps 2 and 3
Steps 4 and 5 presentation and handling queries and objections
Steps 6 & 7 closing and post communication actions
The Offensive - others will also have their guard down
In the same way competitors may try to snatch your clients right from under your nose, your offensive strategy may just do the same. If you have a well-targeted strategy, you could be quite successful in retaining your clients and getting new clients from your competitors who may not be putting the right focus into their tactics. The need to have a good plan of attack will help your activity planning and some ideas are explored here:
Business development how do you do it
Business development breaking into niche areas
Business development planning how do you do it part 2
Delivering service excellence part one
Now that you armed with a wealth of information it is time to go forth and prosper in the January window!
By Raj Rajput, John Sharkey and Norman Allison
Follow us on LinkedIn