Do Professionals Need To Look For More Clients?

How do you feel about people who need to beat the bushes for new clients? People in certain professions consider themselves “a breed apart” because in addition to rigorous licensing hoops to jump through, their field does not require looking for business. The fields of law, medicine and accounting have often been considered professions because business comes to them, not the other way around. Do professionals need to look for more clients?

Why is this question important? People employed in other fields also consider themselves professionals. Financial services is one example. Physicians, lawyers and accountants might be reluctant to consider them peers because they need to find their own clients, often on a continuous basis. They might be derided as “salespeople.” People in these fields might expand their definition of professionals to include practitioners in other fields including teachers, architects, pharmacists and engineers. Generally speaking, none need to look for clients. Business comes to them.

The Case for Why Professionals Need to Prospect for New Clients

Robert Louis Stevenson said: “Everyone lives by selling something.” (1) This makes the case reaching out to find business is part of most people’s job description. You cannot dismiss another field requiring rigorous training and testing as mere salespeople because they actively look for clients.

Let us suppose an established accountant has a practice of loyal clients. Why do they need to proactively look for new clients?

  1. Death is inevitable. Imagine you started an accounting practice, reached a certain size clientele and decided: “I have enough business.” Your goal is to bring your children into the practice. If you have a defined book of clients and never added anyone, eventually your last client would die off and there would be no revenue.

  2. Other professionals want your clients. You might have an established practice composed of clients who pay their bills on time. Colleges are graduating new accountants every year. They go into the workforce in different roles, including private practice. It is logical some of those newly minted accountants will be prospecting your clients.

  3. Pricing pressure. You charge for your services. Many people file their takes online using software programs. If you were to compete in filing simple returns, you would need to compete on price. Other accountants might seek to compete for your business clients if the firm puts out a request for proposals.

  4. Overhead is rising. There is a cost of doing business. You rent office space. Rents are rising. You buy insurance. Premiums are going up. You need to pay competitive salaries to keep your staff. You need to bring in more revenue.

  5. Growth is part of your business plan. Your practice is located in a growing suburban community. Population growth has been increasing faster than the national average. There are few competitors in the market. You have the capacity to handle the extra business, but these people are not walking through the door. You need to find them.

  6. The marketplace is huge. Your background is in criminal law. You realize there is a big market in personal injury law, civil cases and corporate law. You have hired additional lawyers skilled in these branches of the profession. Now you need to actively seek business to pay their salaries.

  7. Career advancement. You hope to make partner someday. You are in consideration alongside several other associates at your law firm. One of the metrics used to measure performance is “How much business have you brought into the firm?”

The Case for Why Professionals Do Not Need to Prospect for New Clients

Lets keep our established accountant in mind and add lawyers into the mix. Why might they feel they do not need to look for new clients?

  1. You have all the business you can handle. Many accountants in private practice talk about the stress and time pressures of tax season. The public might assume it calms down by April 15th, yet businesses have filing dates every quarter. You might be perpetually busy.

  2. Share of wallet. They seek to deepen the existing relationship with current clients. The accountant prepares the client’s taxes. Now the accountant starts a business. They will need to file and prepare business tax returns too.

  3. The next generation. The client is getting older. Their children are growing fast. When their children graduate from college and get jobs, they will need to file tax returns too. The older and wealthier they become, the more accounting services they will need.

  4. Referrals. Satisfied clients tell their friends. From time to time someone says: “My CPA retired. I need a new accountant. Who do you use?” Your client does the selling, delivering an interested prospect.

  5. Introduce advisory services. This ties into the “share of wallet” argument. Filing tax returns is what accountants have traditionally done on behalf of individuals. That is an service based on past activity. Accountants are uniquely positioned to offer financial planning services. That is a forward looking activity.

  6. When marketing is not defined as sales. The ambulance chasing lawyer is a TV stereotype. They are seen as beating the bushes for clients, approaching an accident victim on a 1;1 basis. Today, personal injury law firms advertise on TV. They also seek participants for class action lawsuits. They might not define it as sales, but they spend lots of money on marketing to get their phones to ring.

  7. There is an established pipeline of new business in place. You are the only practitioner in your field in town. You are a specialist. Perhaps you have connections to sports agents who send professional athletes in your direction. You do not need to look for new clients because they come to you.

The conclusion we can reach is everyone needs to look for new business. It might be from new clients coming through the door or the deepening of current relationships. Everyone is involved in sales because you need to either persuade a prospect to become a new client or a current client to buy additional services. As Robert Louis Stevenson said: “Everyone lives by selling something.” This means everyone is a salesperson.

Related: How To Create Aha Moments With Prospects