In a perfect world, every aspect of your business, from your elevator pitch to your website, would connect with the clients who need you most and are willing to pay for your services. Yet identifying and speaking directly to your ideal client is not always an easy task.
CPAs are numbers people. So they tend to take a quantitative approach to identify their ideal client. They create a spreadsheet of their current client mix, sort by industry or service line, and select their ideal client based on who rises to the top. The problem is, this approach doesn’t facilitate discussion. And it can lead to firms selecting “ideal” clients from dwindling industries, unprofitable service lines, and areas that nobody in the firm is actually passionate about.
Consider these six questions to help you get clarity around who your ideal client is and make better marketing and business development decisions.
1. Who are the types of clients you want more of?
If I could give you ten clients today, and you would be excited to bring them on, how would you describe them? Again, this isn’t necessarily the top-dollar clients, although they could be.
Maybe some people in your firm are passionate about helping restaurants with cash flow or providing strategic planning to mature businesses. Maybe your ideal client has at least $5 million in annual revenues and could benefit from outsourced CFO services. Whatever it is, articulate it.
When I ask our clients this question, I usually find that firm leaders start rattling off ideas with a lot of clarity.
2. What are the best and worst characteristics of your ideal client?
Make a two-column list on a sheet of paper or a whiteboard and list them out. After all, even ideal clients can be challenging.
Here’s a sample:
Don’t argue about invoices
Force you to bring you’re A-game to every interaction
Take our advice
Want us to bring new solutions to the table
Come to us proactively when they’re considering a major transaction or initiative
Require us to get better every year
3. What do they value?
The things your ideal clients value may not be things you’re selling or delivering on.
For example, your client may be paying you for a tax return and audited financial statements, but value that you answer when they call. Or perhaps they value that the technology you use to collaborate and exchange documents is user-friendly and makes their job easier.
Neither of these things is a bullet point in your engagement or service agreement, but they’re important to the client.
4. How much revenue do they generate for your firm?
Here’s an interesting way to have a conversation about this one: break members of your management team or committee into small groups and have them answer this question together, then share their answers with the larger group.
We recently did this with a firm, and the results were eye-opening. One group said their ideal client generates $12,000 per year in revenue, while another answered $100,000 in revenue. Of course, neither answer is right or wrong, but it’s helpful to discuss why there is such a vast difference.
Sometimes, we find that the group or individual with a low revenue threshold simply throws out a number that protects their existing clients. It’s much better to have a productive discussion about how much revenue your ideal client generates for the firm than setting your threshold low for all the wrong reasons and wind up bringing in more clients who really aren’t ideal.
5. What are three common services this client buys from the firm?
What three services make up the relationship with your ideal client? For example, your firm may offer 30 different services, but perhaps your ideal client buys client accounting services (CAS), tax and cash flow management.
This question may help you spot new areas of opportunity within your current service offerings.
6. What are three additional services this client could grow into?
After the three common services identified above, what are the natural next three services to grow out of that? If an existing client is only buying tax preparation from you, they’re probably not going to jump right into buying IT consulting or strategic planning — it’s possible but unlikely.
However, if they’re already buying CAS, tax and cash flow management, then budget vs. actual reviews, wealth management services and strategic planning could be natural next steps.
Get your leadership team together and start asking these questions. I believe it will help you get clarity around your firm’s ideal client and make better decisions about where to invest your marketing and business development, technology, talent and process improvement dollars.
Are you ready to stop wasting money on growth strategies that don’t work?
Boomer Growth Consulting helps you create a clear marketing and business development roadmap that will help you reach more prospects and clients. Schedule a discovery call today and gain confidence that your firm’s marketing and business development dollars are being used effectively.
Jon Hubbard, Shareholder, Consultant, at Boomer Consulting helps accounting firm leaders find success in the areas of leadership, talent and growth. Jon is a facilitator for the Boomer P3 Leadership Academy, Boomer Talent Circle and Boomer Marketing & BD Circle. He also guides firms to grow and be more effective in the areas of client service, marketing and business development.
Jon speaks at various industry conferences, user conferences, state societies, and associations. He is a Storybrand Certified Guide and Certified Kolbe Consultant.