It’s been said before that referrals are the lifeblood of a business. Without referrals, your accounting firm will inevitably die a slow and painful death. Sure, you can rely on your marketing effort to raise awareness for your business, but marketing dollars can never compete with good, old-fashioned word of mouth. People trust other people. So, when someone—even a stranger—endorses a service, it’s more meaningful and effective than any self-promoting marketing campaign can ever hope to be.The question isn’t should you ask for requests and referrals from your accounting clients. You should and here's why: Click To Tweet
The question isn’t if you should ask for requests and referrals from your clients. You should absolutely, unequivocally, and without a doubt, ask your clients for reviews and referrals. Why? If you don’t ask, your clients probably won’t even think to leave a review. But there’s a right time and a wrong time to ask. And there’s a right way and a wrong way to ask, as well. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to make this request so that you get the right results.
Create a Presence Online
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to set up your accounting firm’s presence online. In addition to a website, you need to stake your claim on review sites, such as Google Business Profile, Facebook, and Yelp. You must build a strong presence on any site that a prospective client may use to find you.
Let’s break down the most popular sites:
Establish a presence on Google. Why? Most online searches originate on Google.
If your prospective client Googles “accountants near me,” does your firm pop up in the local search results? If yes, where does your firm show up?
On the Google search results page, the local searches show at the top, next to a map of the area. You’ll notice that only three listings show up. This is known as a snack pack. Google will load more listings if you click on the “More business” button at the bottom of the snack pack.
Here’s another thing to notice: The results will usually include star ratings (on a scale of 0 to 5) and reviews.
While we don’t know every factor that Google uses to determine list rankings, we do know that Google uses ratings and reviews to decide what listings show up in the snack pack. So the more ratings (especially positive ones), the better your chances of landing in the snack pack. These listings have high visibility. They’re also more likely to be chosen by a prospective client simply because people rarely click beyond the first page of results.
How do you get reviews? First, set up your Google Business Profile. Your Google Business Profile is a free business listing from Google. It’s used to help customers find local businesses through Google.
Fortunately setting up your Google Business Profile is relatively easy and completely free. To set up your Google Business Profile, click here. After you’ve set up your Google Business Profile, you can then start asking for reviews from your clients.
Another place to build your presence online is via social media. There are dozens of social media platforms, so which one should go for? Start with these:
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a great tool for getting recommendations. If you already have a profile on LinkedIn, you can ask your clients to connect with you on the platform and then leave a recommendation for your firm. Be sure to share instructions on how to leave recommendations with your clients who may not be LinkedIn-fluent. Here’s a step-by-step guide that you can make your own.
Facebook – Facebook is another option for getting and displaying reviews from your clients. Facebook has its own built-in review section for local businesses. If you notice a lot of client activity on your Facebook profile, you can use the review option on Facebook. Periodically ask your clients to leave reviews for your accounting practice on your Facebook profile. One major benefit of getting reviews on Facebook is that the Facebook algorithm may promote your accounting firm to your clients’ social circle, too. This way, you can increase your exposure without increasing your marketing budget.
Twitter – Are you on Twitter? While Twitter is for conversations, it’s also an excellent discovery tool. Encourage your clients to share their reviews of your accounting service on Twitter along with a proprietary hashtag, such as #YourFirmRocks.
Be sure to set up your profile on various review platforms such as Yelp. If your prospective client is there, you should be there, and so should your reviews. Ask your clients to leave reviews on any review site where you’ve claimed a presence.
Set up a review section on your website. You probably already have a website for your accounting firm, but if you’re only using your website to share basic information such as your contact details and hours of operation, you’re missing out on an incredible opportunity to build trust with prospective clients. Consider adding a review section to your home page or even an entire page for reviews. You can populate this section or page with reviews from your happy clients, past and current.
Ask for Reviews
Now for the fun part: Asking for reviews.
How do you go about asking for reviews for your accounting practice? Follow these guidelines:
Ask at the right time
When is the right time to ask for a review? The right time is when your client is happiest with your service. You definitely don’t want to ask after an unfortunate incident, if there’s been a miscommunication, or if your client has voiced ambivalence or concerns about your service. Instead, ask when your client feels like they have checked off a box and have successfully completed a goal. Leverage that feeling of satisfaction to get a favorable endorsement for your service.
We found that the best time to ask is usually after tax season when clients are relieved and feel a sense of accomplishment.
You can ask after you’ve completed the service and everything is going well. Ask for the review via phone or email immediately after delivering the good news. You can even do it on the same email or phone call. There’s no need to wait.
If you choose to send your review requests via email, Mango has an integration with SendInBlue and MailChimp. You can send review requests to your clients conveniently from your practice management tool.
Ask the right client
The sad truth is that not every client will be the right candidate for a review or referral. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, a client simply has a negative experience with our team. You can try your best to rectify it, but these candidates may never be the right ones for referrals so choose who you ask wisely. Here are some ideas on who might fit the criteria for a referral ask:
- Someone who has repeated business with you
- Someone who told you that they enjoy working with you
- Someone who represents the type of clientele you’d like to win over in the future
The last point is huge: If you want to attract similar clients to your accounting firm, you first need to highlight the type of client that you’d like to work with in the future. Feature this type of client prominently in your reviews because they will attract similar clients to your firm, almost like a beacon. This is because prospective clients will see themselves in the people that you choose.
For example, if you want to attract more small business owners as clients consider selecting the small business owners that you’ve worked with currently or in the past for your review section. Of course, you can’t control who leaves reviews on outside pages, but you can control what reviews show up on your own website.
Ask the right way
As mentioned previously, there is a right way and a wrong way to ask a client for a review.
The wrong way is to just casually say, “Hey client, can you leave us a review?”
While some people may leave a review, this type of throwaway ask won’t generate much engagement. In fact, most people will simply throw it away and not leave a review.
However, if you add context to your ask, then your request becomes more meaningful to them. Give them a reason to leave a review, such as, “Hey client, can you leave us a review so that we can all raise awareness for our business and attract more awesome clients like you?”
Next, position the ask so that the client feels like they are doing you a favor. People want to be helpful. If your client feels like the simple act of leaving a review will actually help you, then they’re more likely to do it.
Third, make it easy on your client to leave the review. There are several ways to leave a review for your services. As mentioned above, make it dead simple to leave a review on your website, on your Google Business profile, on Facebook, or on another review website. Here’s how:
- Tell the client where to leave the review. Don’t give them too many choices. Even if you have a presence on all of those sites, consider which site will be most useful when it comes to attracting new business.
- Provide instructions. Give them the link and tell them how to leave a review.
- Help them find the right words. For many people, coming up with the right words to create a compelling review can be intimidating. You can help them gather their thoughts by asking questions. Their answers can become a simple but straightforward review for your service.
When asking questions, be careful to avoid the yes/no scenario. Ask open-ended questions that encourage the client to explain or elaborate. For example, ask the client what they liked about our service, how they would describe your service to a friend, or how you solved their problem.
Another way to make it easier for the client is to send these questions via email. To avoid overwhelming your client, limit your questions to five or less.
One of the best things you can do for your accounting firm is get reviews from your happy clients. Use the above tips to start building your library of reviews.
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