If a client doesn’t sign with you initially—and it could be for a number of reasons—don’t give up. From then on, it becomes about building trust.
Trust is the foundation of a good business relationship. And that’s especially true for accountants—you’re responsible for your clients’ livelihoods. Expecting total trust and commitment from the beginning might be unrealistic.
Ryan Lazanis from Future Firm partnered with Karbon to deliver a private podcast series, The 7 Quick Win Marketing Tactics for Accounting Firms, highlighting quick (yet impactful) tactics you can implement today to grow your firm. In the sixth episode, Ryan discusses how following up on lost deals will help you grow your client base and make the most of the work you’ve already put in with prospects.
It’s worth noting that only a small percentage of your follow-ups will convert a new client, so you should set your expectations accordingly. But follow-ups are easy to send, making this tactic worthwhile, even if you only convert a few prospects per quarter.
There are a number of reasons a prospect might not sign up with you straight away: perhaps another firm had lower rates, or they decided to keep things in-house.
It might seem like following up with lost deals is an exercise in futility. They already said they weren't interested, right? But a prospect deciding to not sign shouldn’t be the end of your professional relationship. Remember, something about your firm interested them in the first place. That’s what separates a follow-up from a cold call.
You might not have been a great fit together when you were first talking, but from those early discussions, you will have learned valuable information about their business, such as:
How their organization works
The types of projects they work on
Opportunities for growth
You can still use that information to check in, and that’s all a lost deal follow-up is: checking to see if anything has changed. Are their accounting needs still being serviced in the right way? Have they recently expanded and need a specialist service your firm provides?
Tip: Using a de-brief to find out why a prospect didn’t sign with you will give you valuable insight you can use for your follow-ups. It only takes a few simple questions in a call or email to find out what they were looking for that you didn’t provide, or any other suggested improvements from them.
You might think following up on every lost deal will drain your resources, but the process can be as simple as an email check-in once per quarter—and even that can be automated with the right CRM tools.
Begin the process by making a list of the deals that haven’t worked out in the past year and divide them into two lists:
Prospects you want to land
Prospects you don’t mind losing
You only want to target the prospects you actually want as clients, so you can disregard everyone on that second list. Make sure you keep the first list updated as you close and lose deals in the future. That way you have a rolling list of prospects to follow up with.
Then, once per quarter, send an email out to that list, checking in. It shouldn’t be pushy or too sales-oriented—you don’t want to annoy anyone. You just want to check in, show you care, and remind them you’re there if something isn’t going perfectly with their current set-up.
Here is an example of a follow-up email from Ryan Lazanis:
Subject line: Checking in.
Hope all is well since we last spoke.
I just wanted to check in to see how business is coming along. Is everything going smoothly?
Using an open-ended question helps elicit a response, encouraging them to engage with you.
Remember to update your quarterly email template, so you’re not sending the same email every time.
Tip: To support the follow-up email, consider showing prospects you want them to succeed by sending valuable resources such as an industry newsletter, webinars, or other industry information. Sending educational content will build trust, and if further down the road, an opportunity comes up for your services to be employed, that regular contact will keep you top-of-mind.
As the saying goes, ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’
Just as your own business ebbs and flows, so do your clients’. Who knows when a certain ebb will align perfectly with their needs and your offerings? With a periodic lost deal follow-up email, you’re never too far behind each change in tide.