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How Do I Encourage Mr X to Sign Up?

How Do I Encourage Mr X to Sign Up?

2 weeks ago a charming Graphic Designer rang me, as a result of a referral from another charming client. He said he was a one man band, self employed and thought he was paying his current accountant too much. He might also be interested in passing on the bookkeeping to me. Tax return for 2012 has been filed and y/e is April.

Based on a brief discussion, I quoted him £700 for tax. It transpires he is paying £1,100 at present. He presents data on a spreadsheet to Accountant, who has not apparently raised any concerns.

Good, I thought. I then said from the few statistics he'd given to me about his bookkeeping, I could do this for £230 plus VAT a quarter fixed fee. His stats seemed remarkably similar to an existing Graphic Designer client (whose bookkeeping I do for the same fee.) He said he would like me to see some of his schedules, and I foolishly didn't get it at the time, but I now realise this was an indication that he thought the bookkeeping charge was too high.

He said he would get back to me, but I got his phone number and email address before he went.

Since then, I've emailed him to say I was keen to see the schedules he was going to send me. I haven't heard from him since.

I liked him as a person, and have already told him it could well be in his interests to go ltd.

How should I tackle him further to get him onside?


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By Flash Gordon
06th Feb 2013 17:48

Two possibilities

1, He's busy and will come back to you when he's ready

2, He's gone back to his existing accountant to challenge him / her on fees

Either way your chasing him up again would be kind of pointless. But I'd leave it a week and then send another quick email - the sort of 'just checking if you'd like to move this forward and would be good to hear from you either way' email. Nothing sounding too keen (or desperate), just friendly.

I wouldn't assume that his wanting you to see his schedules was an indication that your fees were too high. It could be that he just wants you to see what he currently does so that you're aware.

Don't doubt yourself. If he's contacted you from a referral that's a big point in your favour. You've done what you needed to, now it's up to him to sign up, ask more questions or stay put.

Fingers crossed though!

Thanks (2)
06th Feb 2013 17:55


I didn't want to drive the man crazy with lots of chasing and you've confirmed my other thoughts.

I will leave it before I email him again and use your ideas before I rush into pressing the send button!

Thanks (0)
06th Feb 2013 17:59

I agree with Flash

It's good to show an interest, but anything more looks pushy & desperate.

As Flash says, email is the best way to contact him and won't 'put him on the spot' in the way a phone call would.

Good luck :)

Thanks (1)
06th Feb 2013 18:53

Id argue the other way...

Some clients let life get in the way and despite their best intentions will need a nudge to sign up.  Agree you dont want to appear pushy but you do want to sign this one up.  Potential already warmed up as a referral, and the fact that you have also identified what his previous accountanst seems to have missed - in that incorporation could be benficial.

Id send him an email now, along the lines..


Dear x

Further to our recent meeting, I have sent a couple of reminders and not heard back from you.

I appreciate that you are very busy, though I'd be grateful if you could just send me a quick reply confirming that you would like to engage me as your accountant, in order that I can get the paperwork drawn up.  If you could also send the schedules that you mentioned I can firm up the price for the bookkeeping work.

Thanks in advance, etc


Thanks (1)
06th Feb 2013 19:21

Jason That Could Be too Pushy!

He didn't say at any stage he would come over to me, even though he told me he was paying £1100 after I quoted him £700. So your reply is one of those assumptive closings that is a bridge too far for me! Thanks Jason anyway, as I will definitely email him again, but need to reword your suggestion!

When we were in discussions, I had suggested to him that his wife carries on with the bookkeeping until year end, and then I do just the tax this year and we talk about bookkeeping and tax for next year. (He had indicated to me before my quotes that he wanted to get shot of the bookkeeping but was feeling reluctant about whatever it would cost.) As his year end is April, I can't see him doing anything taxwise until at least end of May, as VAT return is due then for period to 30/4.

Perhaps I could send him some data on going limited mid Feb, with some other business info mid March, and another email Mid April to ask has he had any further thoughts on switching. That would not imply anything except a level of service that he's not getting from current accountant and would keep him warm if he wants to think things over.

How does that sound?

Thanks (0)
07th Feb 2013 01:38

Quit the mind games
Either a straight question and a straight answer is in order or stick him on ice until he makes a move. Spending time emailing illustrations and extolling virtues are for when he's paying you. Don't spend an excessive amount of time in it.

"Hi X,

Hope you are well etc....

Just an email to enquire if you feel that there is anything we can do for you? If not, please let me know and I will remove you from our contacts list"

Or a call to the same effect?

Thanks (1)
07th Feb 2013 09:46

an important lesson

It certainly shows the importance of getting all the info before you open your mouth.

Thanks (1)
07th Feb 2013 10:02

why not email him

saying you'd like to follow up on your proposal and is he available next week for a quick call, if you ask him to suggest a rough date/time if he wants to talk you should be able to gauge where you are.

His answer may well be to say where do I sign, equally no response is fairly indicative as well

Thanks (1)
07th Feb 2013 10:16

You might have blown it

Potential clients naturally want to know how much it's going to cost them, but if you quote without knowing what you are quoting for it might sound as though you are just making it up as you go along.

For VAT related bookkeeping we have a minumum quarterly fee but charge more than that if the volume of work warrants it.

I don't think it should be a problem to say you don't know, to explain how you might arrive at the fee and to use that to encourage meeting up to discuss. For an enduring relationship the fee is not the first thing to discuss. It might even be the last for the type of client you would ideally want 

Thanks (1)
07th Feb 2013 12:00

Ask the referrer

If it is a referral from someone you know and apparently have a good relationship with you could always ask them to ring the potential client up and say "By the way, did you follow up on the accountant I told you about and what did you think?" They will probably get a more candid answer than you will directly!

Thanks (1)
07th Feb 2013 12:27

and don't forget to thank the referrer!

That way they know you appreciate getting referrals and would like more!

Thanks (0)
07th Feb 2013 12:34

Good Point about asking the referrer to help chase

I always thank people for referring me. It would be very bad manners not to.

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07th Feb 2013 12:46


... send him an engagement letter. :)

Thanks (1)
07th Feb 2013 14:40


Sorry, Moonbeam. I didn't mean to imply that you wouldn't thank the referrer. It was more a general comment to anyone else reading the replies. In the past I sometimes only remembered to thank the referrer if it resulted in getting some work. :)

Thanks (0)
07th Feb 2013 14:53

It's OK Christopher

Your other advice may well do the trick in due course!

Thanks (0)
08th Feb 2013 11:18

People are busy...

I've just had a client lead 'come good' nearly FOUR MONTHS after our original meeting.  They want me to do their bookkeeping doing because they're to busy to stay on top of it themselves. In fact nearly too busy to actually confirm that they want me to do the job!

Likewise I had a thing on my To Do List which I meant to do two weeks ago, and I've just been chased by the chap myself.

Where does the time go?

Thanks (2)
08th Feb 2013 11:50

Don't push too hard

.......or will come across as being desperate which is not nice. Appear professional at all times and sometimes you just have to accept, if it ain't gonna happen, it ain't gonna happen. We've all been there. I hope you get him.

Thanks (1)
08th Feb 2013 11:56

Potential client

My advice would be not to push. Leave it and move on, I followed up things like this, but usually a waste of time. The client will come back to you, if he wants to and I have found this too.

Does not pay to cry over spilt milk!



Thanks (1)
08th Feb 2013 11:57

Find out

1. The number one thing to do, is to find out why he wants a change? Is it some aspect of service, or is it price?

2. Generally, it's not a good idea to underquote on price, as it's likely that he'll go back to his accountant and get him to cut the rate. Rather quote a similar, or even higher price, but stress the 'added value' that you can offer in terms of service, response times etc.

Thanks (0)
to Kent accountant
08th Feb 2013 12:44

Why are you asking us to advise you on running a business, become an employee of someone that can. I am not employing, so dont apply.

Thanks (0)
08th Feb 2013 12:20

1/.Was he on a fishing exercise.

2/.Don't waste your time and energy I normally find that a prospective new client

will agree to come over there and then.


Thanks (1)
By Flash Gordon
08th Feb 2013 13:12


Did your mother never tell you 'if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all'?

I quoted a prospect back at the end of 2011 and she decided to do it herself. She came back in January for a re-quote having found it not as easy as she thought and is now a fully-paid up client (and a nice one who says thank you and appreciates me!). So you can never tell.

Thanks (4)
08th Feb 2013 13:15

Add some value when you go back

I agree with what Flash has said - leave it a couple of days to a week and then follow up with an email or call.  Make sure you tell him that you really want to work with him. 

Because he is a designer he'll have specific issues that affect his business which you will already know about as you advise a similar client.  Share some of this information with him without giving too much away.  It will show you have a real interest in his business and also knowledge of the issues that affect his sector.

If he thinks your bookkeeping charges will be too high perhaps you could get him to do more work at his end allowing you to reduce the fee.

Best of luck
Tom Horigan


Thanks (1)
08th Feb 2013 13:26

What Excellent Comments!

Everyone has given me a slightly different view point on this and I hope it's been useful to others besides me.

Ten minutes ago someone replied to a mailshot "just wanting to know" my hourly rate for bookkeeping. I was able to persuade him that he would need me to see him to quote a fixed fee, which would surely be a more helpful figure for him to use. He doesn't want the aggro of seeing me really as he doesn't have a clue about what's been going on book-keeping wise in his business, but is having a tough time finding people through an advert he's placed, so he may come back later. If I can just get through the door.....

Thanks (0)
08th Feb 2013 13:45


We had something similar.

A regular client decided to DIY (simple sole trader accounts/SA), but got stuck on the Capital Allowances. We did the CA calc's for him and he did the rest of the accounts/tax himself but swore 'never again!' and says he will be back as usual next time around.

Thanks (2)
08th Feb 2013 14:40

Bookkeeping reduces tax time?

I just wonder whether he might have been put off by the fact that you weren't planning on reducing the £700 tax fee once you had the book-keeping in house.  I would have imagined that, with his wife doing the book-keeping, you would have spent at least some time verifying her figures before completing the tax, whereas, if you were doing the whole shebang yourself, you would know that the underlying figures were totally correct and would be spending much less time on the tax.  So, if I had been him, I might have expected a hundred or two off the tax fee to compensate.

Thanks (1)
08th Feb 2013 17:00

keep in touch with him - in a way that is value-laden

Hi there,

I think a great way to nurture client leads is to do just that... nurture them!  Consider creating a newsletter and sending it to your prospective (as well as current) clients.  This creates a monthly (or quarterly) reminder that you exist, and you are doing this in a way that is interesting and value-laden.

I once got a client who signed up after receiving our newsletter for over three years.  He turned out to be one of the most profitable clients the firm got that year.

You can find source materials for your newsletter all over the place - blogs, HMRC website, your fellow practitioners, etc.  And Mail Chimp is a very cost-effective way of sending out communications.  All you need is a way to manage your prospect lists, and this can be done in Excel.

Hope this is helpful?

Thanks (1)
08th Feb 2013 19:25


I told prospect I would reduce tax charge if I did his bookkeeping. I didn't mention that in the post here because it didn't seem to me to have anything to do with his not keeping in touch.

As for mailshots to get clients, I have - with enormous difficulty- been doing some emails to prospects but have found it unrewarding and not my scene. I agree it is a good idea for those who are keen on this approach. Prospect lists - especially bearing in mind the permission based approach - take a long time to build up.

Thanks (0)
08th Feb 2013 21:14

Prospective new client



Remember IR35.

Thanks (0)
09th Feb 2013 09:58

may just have got a better deal with his old firm

I saw a guy recently - similar situation - I look after his son's business, and he felt he was paying too much where he was.


As soon as my letter went to old accountant he had rung the client and dropped his fee!!  Client decided to stay but kindly informed me.


I sent him a "my doors always open if you want to change in the future" email and moved on!!



Thanks (1)
09th Feb 2013 11:31

Move on

Yes. Move on but revise your approach for the next time.

My favourite is: " We've met and discussed your needs. Go away and have a think about it and I'll have a think about you.If I don't hear from you by the weekend I'll probably give you a ring."

Personally - I never chase them. As a result, ALL of my clients are friends. The longest serving rang last night. He's 250 miles away and he's been around since 1988! (Yes - I'm really that old).

I may not make the most money, but business is much more fun my way.

I like it when a client phones or emails just to ask how I'm getting on.

Golden Rule : Be contactable! Your client then becomes your sales team.



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