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Marketing for Accountants: It’s Referral Season

February 29, 2016

It is now or never time if you want to build up a powerful referral stream for your tax and accounting practice.


The #1 referral tip is the most obvious.

Just ask. 

You may be great at delivering results to your clients and you may have great relationships with most of them. But if your clients don’t know you take referrals, you may be running your practice at half speed. 

A recent Advisor Impact study shows us that 83% of clients are comfortable providing a referral, yet only 29% of clients actually give one.

So how does that apply to your tax and accounting practice? 

Before you start asking for referrals, you must make sure that you have set up processes and on-boarding steps that establish the expectations of the relationship from the get-go.

First and foremost, you must be referable. You must provide consistent results with clients that will make them want to refer you in the first place.

Second, you can’t go in with all your guns blazing. You must focus your approach to make it comfortable and easy for your clients to match you up with their friends and colleagues. 

We put together a list of 7 actionable items that you can start using to see immediate results from referrals. 

#1 Just Ask.

If you have checked in with satisfied clients or just completed a successful engagement, now is the time to reach out. You’ll want to narrow the focus to make it easier for a client to connect you with someone who fits your ideal prospect. Most people refer you because they think it makes them look good. So they will most likely refer someone who is like them or is in a similar situation as they are. 


Use an open-ended question to start the referral conversation. 

Example: Can you think of 1 or 2 people who might be in the same situation as you and who could get value from working with us?


Example: The last time we were together you mentioned a who has a similar business and is a colleague and not a competitor. How do you feel about introducing me to him or her? Do you have other colleagues that are facing similar challenges?

From this starting point you can discuss the best way to connect, whether that is via an email introduction, text or voice call. 

#2 – Feature your referral policy prominently on your website 

Having a referral policy on your website accomplishes a few vital things. It makes them aware that you are taking new clients. It can also help you alleviate the clients’ fear to show them that their personal financial details will not be shared after referring someone close to them”


#3 – Send out a referral thank you email after every successful engagement

The best way to receive more referrals is to acknowledge the influencers. Here is a sample Thank You email we have built into our marketing dashboard. 


#4 – Include referral copy in your email footer and monthly email newsletter

With only 29% of clients giving referrals, there is a huge divide between who would refer and who is. Consistently communicating that you are open and love referrals is the best way to close that gap.


#5 – Use desktop and lobby referral displays to make the entire process easier

Last month we published a blog article that was loaded with free tools to help you generate more referrals. They included a sample referral policy, desktop display inserts and a sample referral email template. Learn more and download these free tools from our referral blog article. 

#6 – Set up a professional referral network with local realtors, estate planners, lawyers and insurance professionals 

Establishing a strong reciprocal referral network with like-minded professionals can be a huge plus to your bottom line. These centers of influence contain professionals who are most likely to send over clients who best match your ideal profile. It takes time, trust and networking to set up your sphere. Start by going to local networking meetings and being visible in your community.


#7 – Use Clients’ LinkedIn connections to ask for referrals by name

Make sure you are connected with your clients on LinkedIn. It is a great way to find mutual colleagues or friends who could turn a referral into a full-blown introduction. You can also use your clients’ connections to help narrow their focus and isolate a few contacts that might be good prospects.

Top 3 Takeaways: 

  1. There is a big difference between a referral and personal introduction. Personal introductions are much more likely to bring a positive outcome.
  2. You want the introduction to be based on value versus a paid intro. 
  3. Be referable. Focus on clients whom you have delivered great results. Check in with them to see how they are doing and if you are exceeding their reputations. Then use your lead-in questions to start the dialogue. 

What are you waiting for? Get connected.

Feel free to share your best referral practices in the comment section. Enjoy.

Pro advice, ideas, and information to help your practice get going and grow.

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Lee Reams II

I am a marketing junkie who has spent the last 20 years developing and executing "best in class" word-of-mouth marketing campaigns. With over 10,000 happy clients I think we are on to something. The explosion in web marketing and social media have redefined the way independent professionals market their practices. Follow my blog to see if you can take some of our actionable ideas to market your own practice.

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