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Vikram Rajan
 

What Your Clients Are Hiding From You

How to keep your clients from going to your competition.

January 10, 2011
by Vikram Rajan

You will be speaking with all your clients in the coming weeks. Toward the end of the conversation, ask, “What’s one question (about taxes or money) that you’re not sure if it’s worth asking?” It’s thoughtful for you to ask and that in itself is a plus.

If the answer to your client’s question is long, complicated or you’re not sure of the answer, tell them you’d like to do some research and then will e-mail them the answer. 

You’ve now created new articles for your blog, newsletter or LinkedIn posts. More importantly, you’ve made your client feel more comfortable asking you questions.

In today’s economic conditions, many of your clients have questions that they aren’t bringing up to you. Perhaps, they don’t know if you’re the right person to ask. If their concerns go unvoiced, these can end up becoming growing problems. If you don’t know what’s on their mind, you can’t help them, which in turn can lead to missed opportunities for your clients and your practice.

Many of your clients’ questions are about their own financial affairs … missteps, forks in the road or how they compare with others. As a CPA for many businesses and individuals, you have a wider angle than any one client. Sharing your wide-angle expertise is truly your value, over and above punching in the right numbers.

Some of your clients’ concerns may have to do with the federal income and estate tax changes. Politics aside, you can have frank conversations about how the changes (may) impact a variety of individual and business scenarios. It is a great segue to schedule a planning and advisory session.

The CPA who speaks about such issues at seminars, in newsletters, blogs and LinkedIn groups may lure them away. Moreover, when you proactively address your clients concerns, it engenders greater loyalty, possibly more business from them and often more referrals to others. Your private, one-on-one conversations with clients are truly the greatest form of marketing.

The second best marketing tactic is communicating with your clients, colleagues and other contacts regularly and consistently. The questions you pull out from any one of your clients give you the content for your blog, newsletter and LinkedIn updates. Remember what our grade school teachers told us? “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have a question, most likely others do too.” Likewise, your client’s concerns represent the many unvoiced.

Your clients don’t want to sound stupid or waste your time. If you are one of the exceptional accountants who review your client’s financials and tax returns with them, ask them what they understand and what they’d like clarified. While this takes more time, it takes a lot less time than acquiring a new client. It also allows you ask your clients how much time their colleagues’ CPAs spend with them to go over such matters, and remind them that should their friends, family or colleagues need added clarification, you are more than happy to help.

These simple Q&A sessions are great training opportunities for your staff accountants. By including them with your clients, you are introducing your clients to your legacy. Moreover, your associates will learn the art of client service, over and above the skill of accounting. Over time, you can trust your staff to conduct such sessions on their own.

As you may have already realized, the world of blogging, newsletters, LinkedIn, client service and personal attention, are all one and the same. They should work together, feed off each other and be opportunities to help your clients, your staff and your practice. If you feel it’s awkward to ask your client’s questions, think how difficult it is for them to ask you.

You’re the most knowledgeable financial expert they know. Your clients trust you with their money matters. To not ask for questions is to do your clients and your firm’s marketing a disservice. Enjoy the conversations and turn them into your next blog articles, newsletters and LinkedIn posts.

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Vikram Rajan is the founder of phoneBlogger.net, which does the blogging, newsletters and LinkedIn networking on behalf of CPAs, by transcribing phone interviews into articles. His own blog receives over 100 hits a day.

© 2011