How to cross-sell accounting services to your clients


Sometimes, less is more, and that can be true for the modern accounting practice. Sometimes, it’s not the amount of clients you have, but rather the amount of money you pull in per client. Let’s put it into numbers. According to the AICPA, winning over a new client is 11 times more costly than retaining a new one. The struggle to attract new clients can be time and money-intensive; what if, instead of winning over new clients, you won new business from current clients?

It’s time to shift focus from increasing your client roster to increasing the average revenue you pull in per client. How? Cross-selling your services to existing clients, and showing them the ways additional services provide value.

Strong Relationships Contribute to Cross-Selling Success

Hopefully your relationships with current clients are built on trust and communication. If not, it’s time to invest in client connections. Your customers will be open to investing in more of your services if they’re already satisfied with your work. When clients have a new financial need, you are the easy—and convenient!—solution. You already know their financial history, and you’ve already established trust. This is all the more reason to cultivate strong relationships; instead of checking in only at tax season, maintain year-round contact with your client roster.

Be available for questions, and provide thoughtful, relevant responses. Be willing to focus all of your attention on one client at the time; dedicated face time is more effective than you might expect. Be proactive; anticipate changes in your client’s needs (and potentially rectify these changes with additional services). At the end of the day, taking a vested interest in the success of your clients means contributing to your own.

Educate Your Team

Cross-selling is a group effort. Create a strong internal system to support cross-selling efforts. This means ensuring every employee in the firm understands the services offered, which can be accomplished through group training sessions, internal company newsletters, and regular email updates. When cross-selling is successful, reward efforts accordingly with employee incentives. Recognize members of the team who enhanced the firm’s bottom line through additional services; they’ll serve as a great example—and motivator—to other members of the team. Success in your firm is a numbers game, and rewarding team members who contribute to business development is a smart investment in your practice’s overall success.

Cross-Selling Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All

As you pitch new services to pre-existing clients, remember this tip: you won’t close the deal by listing out all of your services. To make a successful cross-sale, you must cater your offerings to each client. This requires you to build relationships, and take the time to look into your client’s individual needs. Your first task? Listen. Listen to what they’re asking for, and provide suggestions that actually correspond to their specified needs. Develop a broad, in-depth understanding of each client, and you’ll be rewarded with a bevy of new opportunities. In many cases, clients will encounter a financial issue, and come to you for help—a golden opportunity to point them in the direction of another one of your practice’s services.  In other cases, your client may not even recognize they have a need; these instances allow you to pinpoint current lapses and provide proactive recommendations. You can also use technology to your advantage in this regard. Modern CPA tax preparation software provides invaluable insight into your client’s current needs, and may help you anticipate future issues. Products like ProSeries from Intuit ProConnect can help cultivate client suggestions—which may welcome new service opportunities.

Put in Some Face Time with Other Members of the Team

If you typically work with your clients one-on-one, it’s time to give them a little more face time with the other members of your team. If you’re looking to cross-sell services, it’s likely they’ll be working with other members of the practice. By introducing them gradually to your colleagues, you can help build up your client’s trust for the practice overall—extremely beneficial when it comes to cross-selling across departments.

Instead of spending time and money courting new clients, bolster relationships and sell value-adding services to your current roster.