How to avoid getting the worst clients ever

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Have you ever wondered how to filter through the leads that you may not want?

A lot of people talk about targeting your ideal client. But as a bookkeeper, that can be difficult. You don’t really know who is your ideal client when you’re just starting out, because you just want the experience. How can you '“niche down” when you don’t know what your specialty is? Figuring out who your ideal client is easier said than done for someone just going out on their own.

But how do you make sure you at least don’t get the worst clients possible? By pre-qualifying them.

First off, this process is much easier when you have leads coming to your website; so for this, I really do recommend having a website up or at the very least a scheduler. Dubsado, Calendly, or Acuity Scheduling are a few. Acuity is free with a squarespace website, and Dubsado has a lot of other really great features you’re probably going to want to have for your business. You can read more about how I use it in this post.

So how do you pre-qualify your prospects?

Craft and communicate your message with intention

 WTH does that mean? Well, if you know you want to work with a certain type of client or business, make that known on your website and when you tell people what you do (i.e. at networking events). This is essentially your 30 second elevator speech. Define who you want to work with and how you help. If you only work with service-based entrepreneurs, say that. If you only work with clients who meet a certain revenue threshold, say that.

For example: ”I am a bookkeeper who primarily works with solo entrepreneurs in the $100k-$300k revenue range. I help them get their books organized so they can focus on running their business.”

If someone is looking for a bookkeeper but they fall below that threshold or they are a retail shop with multiple employees, they’ll realize they don’t fit your mold and may not even pursue your service. If they pass this first qualifier, you then push them through the second one:

Give them your scheduling link to book a discovery call

This is where it becomes important to have that scheduling tool. Your time is valuable and you don’t need to go back and forth with someone on when is a good time to meet. Give them the link to your scheduling page (after making sure you’ve setup your working hours/availability and linking with your personal calendars) and let them know you’re looking forward to having that call with them to see if the relationship is a good fit. If you’re working virtually, having the client do this will be a really good indication about whether they will be an easy client to work with.

Require the use of a video conference software

If you want to take it a step further in qualifying them, make sure you you setup your scheduler to book a Zoom meeting at the same time. Ideally, your clients will be able to use a tool like Zoom for your meetings, again, making them more of an ideal client.

Setup a pre-call questionnaire

This step not only pre-qualifies them, but saves you valuable time on the discovery call. You’ll be able to have a more focused and pointed conversation about their business and how you can help if they’ve already answered some basic questions about their business and what exactly they’re looking for. You’ll want questions like:

  1. What type of business are you in?

  2. What’s the legal structure?

  3. What’s your monthly transaction volume?

  4. Do you have inventory?

…And so on. If you’d like a more comprehensive list of questions, check out the post on Discovery Calls.

I have this questionnaire built in to my booking tool with my scheduler. When someone books a free discovery call, they are required to fill out my questionnaire. When I receive the email notification that I have a new discovery call booked, the email has the questionnaire and answers in it, as well as in the appointment on my calendar. Again, the scheduler I use is Acuity, which is built in and free with my Squarespace site.

You want to be sure you don’t overwhelm them, so really only basic questions here; but I do believe if they are serious about working with you, it isn’t too much to ask of them to answer a few questions.

Charge a fee for your discovery or diagnostic review

Now this last filter is really stepping up your game, and honestly I would only recommend implementing this if you’re getting too many leads to handle and don’t have the bandwidth for lots of discovery calls—or clients for that matter. You don’t have to charge a lot, (or do—that’s your prerogative) but certainly charging for an hour’s worth of your time will really filter out people who aren’t serious. However, if you’re just starting out, every discovery call is good practice, so keep that in mind.

You can implement all of these, none of these, or some of these. But if you only implement one, I can’t recommend enough that you need a scheduler.

Have you done any of these? How have they worked for you? I’d love to hear!

If you appreciated the value you gained from this content check out The Bookkeeping Business Accelerator.

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