Accountants Marketing: Repulsive Clients & How to Avoid Them

Accountants Marketing: Repulsive Clients & How to Avoid Them

By Patrick McLoughlin

Little beats the excitement of setting up your own business: deciding on the name, designing your website, knowing that success or failure is in your hands.  

During the first year or so most of us are quite happy to take whatever work is available. You might not be able to charge the fee you want but paying the bills is the first priority.

Once you are established you can afford to be a little more choosy.  Your fees have to reflect the rising cost of your overheads so you start attracting clients prepared to pay that little bit more.  But for many of us the habit has kicked in.  It is not easy to turn down the opportunity of work, even when warning bells are sounding.

accountants marketing, marketing for accountants                             Make room for good clients by ditching the bad ones

Unreasonable Prospects make Bad Clients

You cannot always identify difficult clients in the selling process.  Sometimes a change in contact and approach turns a dream client into a nightmare. However, here are some warning signs you should look out for:

1)      Rude or aggressive decision makers

Some business owners have no interest in developing a relationship with their advisers.  The 1970s school of thought, ‘never show them you’re happy, always demand more,’ lives on.    

If they are disrespectful before you act for them don’t expect them to change once the contract arrives.  

2)      Projects doomed to failure.

Sometimes I am asked to quote for work that I know will fail.  They lay down the tactics they want us to follow when the strategy is clearly flawed.   

If you cannot convince them to change their plans, ask yourself, do they really value your expertise? 

3)      Incompetent or unpleasant client team.

As the sales process develops, try to meet the client team you will be working with. 

You might have a great relationship with the directors but if the accounts manager is introduced to you as “our Rottweiler,” you have been warned.

4)      Lack of Interest

If your initial meeting fails to provoke the interest or commitment to go to the next stage, stop.  Tell them that if the timing is not right for them now, you would be happy to talk again when it is.

Time is our most precious resource; do not bang your head against a brick wall.       

5)      Constantly changing Advisers

Some companies just cannot hold onto their advisers.  They will often tell you how useless the previous firm were.  They were fined because the accountants could not get the accounts filed in time. 

What they do not tell you is that accountants spent 4-months chasing the books only to receive them a couple of days before the deadline.  Try to drill down, ask as many questions as you can until a fuller picture develops.      

accountants marketing, selling accountancy services                                 Difficult Clients are a financial & emotional drain

All Clients Are Not Equal

Whilst we all have a different picture of our ideal client in mind, our bad clients tend to look pretty similar. 

They are difficult to get hold of and often do not return our calls or emails.  They continually moan about our fees and usually pay late.  The extra time spent managing the relationship shrinks your margins.  Worse than all of that they make us miserable and take the joy from our work.

How to Avoid Difficult Clients in the First Place

When I discuss telemarketing with a potential client I make sure to tell them, very early in the conversation, that: “up to 1 in 3 appointments you will attend will be a total waste of your time. You might not even write a proposal” (If they convert 50% of proposals they present they will still hit the campaign revenue target)       

Although the figure will never as high as 1 in 3, it does prepare them for the inevitable wasted journeys.  Better still it also acts as a great deterrent to those firms expecting a panacea. 

I also present all prospects with a simple report: ‘Will telemarketing work for my Practice?”  The purpose is not to sell the service but deter unsuitable personalities and practices.  Look at the landing page and the scary picture of a telephone. Hardly enticing is it?

Finally, not all terrible clients give off warning signals.  So draw up a service agreement that outlines your responsibilities and the client’s. Explain clearly, what you need from them to make the relationship work.  Be brave don’t just send it to them, make a point of going through it, word by word, with them, face to face, and make sure they sign it.

If you would like some advice on attracting your Ideal Clients call me 01509 210 067 for a free, 20 minute, telephone review.  Or email me at

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