Tracy Crevar Warren

Itís Almost April 15

Whatís in your new business pipeline?

April 13, 2009
by Tracy Crevar Warren

The finish line is clearly in sight. No more 60-plus hour weeks. A few days of well-needed vacation is almost within your reach. After that, there will be time to get caught up on all those not-so-pressing things that have been piling up for months. But then what? 

Although your long work weeks will soon become a thing of the past, so too will be the loss of billable work — unless you have a substantial backlog of work or some new prospects in your pipeline. Sorry to burst your bubble as you prepare to cross the finish line. The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take right now to help you and your team to have a profitable summer and fall. The better news is that the solution is not difficult, costly or overly time consuming. 

First, let’s start with the clients you have been working so hard to help during busy season. A number of these clients may have a wealth of potential new business for you and your firm. The outcome could positively impact you and the client. The simple truth is that this work is here for the taking. Unfortunately many CPAs are ready to move on to other things once April 15 arrives. Not only could this lack of action be jeopardizing your pocket, but it could be putting your client relationships in danger. 

Secrets Revealed With Three Simple Questions

The secret to winning this work can be revealed by asking three simple questions:

  • What issues or potential problems did you uncover while working on clients engagements during busy season that could lead to additional projects?
  • What issues had you briefly discussed with your clients prior to tax season but need to get back to?
  • Have you scheduled follow-up meetings with each of them to discuss these and other concerns that may be lurking? 

Although these questions sound so obvious, a tremendous amount of potential work identified during busy season goes left untouched. Can you afford to let this happen again this year? Now is the time to act. Make a list of those clients you need to schedule an appointment with over the coming months.  Prioritize meetings based on the urgency of the situation and the potential work you anticipate. Now, call them. Get on their calendars. You will be glad you did.

You will find more helpful tips on this subject in Six Steps to Hidden Business Opportunities.

But Wait, There’s More

While you are in front of your clients, it is the perfect time to catch up on other issues relating to their business. Perhaps you have not had a chance to get in front of them to discuss the impact that the financial crisis has had on them. Or maybe it has been a while since you were last in front of them discussing issues other than year-end matters.

Here are four additional questions to ask:

  • What are the biggest concerns affecting your business?
  • Can we review your goals?  
  • How has the financial crisis impacted your priorities?
  • How can we help?

Share success stories

Once you have uncovered client’s concerns, it is important to turn your attentions toward sharing some stories of how you have helped other clients in similar situations. Success stories are often what they most want to hear from you. When they know you understand their problems and realize there are solutions, you will be well on your way toward starting on another client project.        

For more information on storytelling, click here

Beyond the Tax Return

Next, turn your attentions to other clients you have not met with in a while. Use the additional questions above to get the conversation started. Remember, in times of crisis and uncertainty, decision-makers are much more open to discussing such matters. They are also more receptive to new solutions. After all, this is the type of advice they most value from their CPAs. Beware! When clients feel their CPAs are not genuinely interested in helping them with more than the basics, they are likely to seek other advisors that will provide greater counsel.   

Get Started Today

Okay, take a few days of vacation. You deserve it. Then come back ready to tackle your client’s challenges beyond the tax return. You will be glad you did. Your clients will too! 

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Tracy Crevar Warren, president and founder of The Crevar Group, advises professional services firms on practice growth, niche development and marketing. She is an author and frequent speaker on various niche and practice development, sales and marketing topics for local, regional, national, and international audiences. Warren can be reached at 336-889-GROW (4769).