Keeping New Clients in the Pipeline

As a small tax practitioner, having a steady stream of new clients is essential for growing your business. However, once tax season starts it can be easy to get caught up in completing returns and lose focus on lead generation. To keep business development going year-round, you need to build a pipeline of potential tax clients even during busy season.

A pipeline is a system for managing prospects – individuals or businesses that have shown some interest in potentially becoming clients. By nurturing these prospects along, you turn them into customers over time. Building automation in your pipeline can help keep it manageable even when the workload is heavy.

Here are some simple tips specific to smaller practices that can help keep your pipeline active without a huge time commitment:

Leverage your existing network for referrals. Let professional contacts like bankers, bookkeepers, lawyers, and financial advisors know you are taking on new tax clients. Consider offering them a referral bonus. Also, ask satisfied clients for introductions to others who may need tax help. Referrals should make up a significant portion of your pipeline. This is also a fast, cost-effective way to generate new leads.

To help capture those leads more effectively during busy season, make sure you let your referral sources know exactly where and who to send referrals to. If you want them all to be qualified by an admin team, or fill out an specific intake form before a meeting with them, make sure you have those processes in place to reduce you spending time on leads that may not be a good fit when your schedule is already tight.

Get visible in your community by speaking or writing on tax topics. Establish yourself as an approachable expert. Collect business cards and follow up with those who express interest in your services. Tax planning seminars are another good way to capture leads. While this may not seem as intuitive during busy season, something as simple as hosting a tax session for small business owners at a local chamber of commerce can be a huge lead generator. Because it’s the time of year that businesses are having to think about taxes, putting yourself front and center is generally an effective use of your time.

Use your website and social media to attract visitors. Blog regularly on topics your ideal clients care about. Offer a free tax planning checklist or guidebook in exchange for contact info. Use Google/Facebook ads to get your content in front of more prospects. These are all inexpensive and won’t take you a ton of time. Your free guides or blogs don’t need to be complicated. Addressing something as simple as home office deductions that many clients tend to have questions about can offer huge benefit and result in followers putting in their contact information to read on.

Follow up consistently with your leads. Find excuses to stay top of mind – send tax articles, invite them to seminars, wish them happy holidays. An easy way to stay in your leads’ inboxes is to add them to your newsletter list. Zapier can be an effective automation tool to move leads from your website directly into software like Mailchimp used for newsletters. Track your touches to see who is most engaged. Gauge readiness and move them to a proposal when interest seems high.

To get the biggest bang for your buck during busy season, qualify your leads by making sure they fit into your ideal client profile. Consider factors like entity type, industry, revenue size, service needs, and whether you want to work with businesses or individuals. Having a clear profile makes it easier to qualify leads and it will ensure that you and your team don’t get bogged down with spending too much time on prospects that are not a fit for your practice.

Managing a pipeline does take effort but pays off through steady new business, even during tax season. The key is staying proactive so you have qualified prospects to contact when you are ready to take on new clients. Capturing leads automatically through website and newsletter views, or referral client intake forms, make it easier and faster for you to build a virtual rolodex and go back to those leads later on.

Christine Gervais

Christine Gervais is a licensed CPA, using her skills to help businesses grow and achieve their fullest potential. Christine has a Master’s degree in accounting from Southern New Hampshire University in addition to holding her CPA license for over a decade. Notably, Christine is a nationally recognized speaker providing education to other CPAs on how to best serve clients as well as instruction on a wide variety of topics for business owners on how to maximize success. Christine prides herself on the value she can bring to clients with her extensive tax knowledge and provides strategic, forward-thinking financial strategies to help clients grow. When not behind her desk, you can find Christine spending quality time with her daughter and stepson or tending to the family’s excessively loved farm animals.

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