Solve their current problem

One of my clients is a CPA wealth manager. His business began with tax preparation and he gradually developed an advisory business on that. While he still prepares tax returns as part of his service, with my encouragement he no longer takes on tax-only clients.

This season he has been getting referrals from clients for his tax work. When they call and indicate that they only want to talk about getting their taxes done, he has been turning them away. Is he missing an opportunity?

I fully endorse developing a value proposition that encompasses the suite of services you offer and then sticking to it. If you offer wealth management and a prospective client calls for investment services and expresses no interest in the financial planning you offer, I think it is a good idea to turn them away. Stake out your niche and defend your brand.

Still, there may be a way to accomplish this and avoid ending conversations prematurely.

The referrals calling this advisor had a specific need and a deadline. They had a particular problem that had to be addressed in a limited amount of time. Until the taxes were filed, they probably could not think about other benefits they might get from that advisor.

This may be true for prospects that call you as well. People usually search for an advisor because something has changed in their life. And that change may have brought with it an urgent need. Until that need gets addressed, they may not have the brain space to consider a broader value proposition.

There is a difference between “not now” and “not interested.”

In situations like this, here is one approach that may help you determine whether the referral calling you for something specific may turn out to be a good client after all. It involves helping the referral with the immediate problem and setting expectations.

  • Reiterate your value proposition – let them know what the whole service offer is.
  • Let them know you will help them with their immediate issue.
  • Indicate that this limited engagement is just temporary.
  • Once the current need is addressed, you will meet with them to discuss your more comprehensive value proposition.

If, at that time, they see the value in what you do you can move forward together. If not, and what they really want is just that one part of your service (in our example tax preparation) you will help them find another professional to provide that service in the future.

Beyond the possibility that the referral may turn out to be a good client, this approach is based on providing service. The referral and the referrer will both appreciate that.

It may also be the best way to promote a larger engagement. Keep the door open. Solve a problem. Let them see how great it is to work with you. Then stick to your guns about your value proposition.

Turning away prospective clients who do not buy into your whole service model is the best approach to maintaining your niche and staying true to your value proposition. Sometimes, you may need to help a client get through an urgent need to give them the space to appreciate the value of what you do.


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