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A bird in the hand – five tips for client retention

Type: #Blog

The thought of business development often causes a shiver down your average accountant’s spine. Less inclined to cold call, most accountants would prefer to have a word of mouth referral, or a less ‘salesy’ approach. Well, the good news is that the most successful business development involves selling to people you already know – your existing client base.

It is five times cheaper to retain an existing client than it is to acquire a new one. And this is why practices need to take a look at their cross-selling and up-selling skills so they can increase revenue per client. This serves to lock the client in – the more services they buy from you, the less they buy from your competitors – and boosts turnover.

So, what can accountants do to improve client retention and spot opportunities to cross-sell services?

1. Spot the happy client:

Happy clients are more receptive to marketing campaigns and opportunities for cross selling and up-selling, so identifying them is key. Put it like this – if a client is happy with the auditing services they are receiving, they will probably be keen to hear about your outsourced pay roll solution.

2. Needs analysis:

Ascertaining the services clients buy and mapping out what they could buy is one of the first steps towards successful cross-selling. Having markers such as renewal deadlines for services they buy from other accountancy practices and when they are setting budgets for the year is valuable intelligence for your cross-selling strategy.

3. Client profiling and tiering:

If your firm has 1000 clients, it is not feasible for all to get the same level of service. Tiering clients can sharpen the focus. The profile might include how much budget the client spends, potential revenue and other services they might be interested in, which can inform marketing activity directed at the client.

4. Practice-wide risk management:

Spotting clients who might be about to leave is crucial. They might not have said anything, but changes in their buying behaviour might indicate there is trouble ahead. Identifying a problem early on and solving it will help with retention.

5. Integrated technology:

You can’t do this alone – technology is imperative. Many practices are spreadsheet reliant and operate on disparate systems, so the whole cross-selling/ up-selling thing isn’t easy. Integrated systems and data will help you manage your client base more effectively and spot opportunities and threats. And CRM is the foundation stone.

There is no silver bullet for improving client retention and making your client base more open to cross-selling. But a bold approach, underpinned by smart technology and a CRM solution in particular, means you’re more than half way there.

To learn more about how CRM can help you with cross-selling and up-selling, read our white paper Sales and Marketing 101 for Accounting Firms or contact one of our team on