Art of Accounting: Creating a Cross-Selling Culture

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IMGCAP(1)]Part of my success in getting new business was getting additional work from existing clients.

I was always good at this, and I think it was because of my attitude of helping the client beyond what the routine services were. Early on I felt queasy about mentioning that there would be an additional fee for the extra services, but after a few times, I got over that.

As accountants and tax preparers we become aware of many important life-altering issues, and we should call them to our clients’ attention. I know many of us feel that we don’t want to appear as if we are trying to generate fees, but we shouldn’t feel like that.

Suppose you went to a dentist for a regular cleaning and you were not told that you need a periodontal consultation? How would you feel? Or if you finally brought your car in for servicing and weren’t told that all your hoses should be changed? How would you feel? Suppose you went to an attorney for a prenuptial agreement, and he or she did not tell you to revise your will and your pension beneficiary designations? How would you feel?

Well, suppose a client came to you for the preparation of their tax return, and you did not tell them their investments weren’t on track for them to accomplish their goals, or that their life insurance was inadequate based upon their stated needs? How do you think they would feel if you did not alert them to financial issues arising from your knowledge of their situation based on their tax return, and tell them you could help solve their problems?

Offering clients additional services is a good deed. The fact that you also will charge them for the advice doesn’t lessen the value of the suggestions. The extra telephone call, away from the hubbub of tax season, will be a great favor for the client and should create a feeling of goodwill. Also, in some instances, you can even ask the client if they know of anyone else in their circumstances that you could be referred to. In many cases, increasing clients’ awareness of services that they truly need fosters a feeling that you are more than just a tax preparer, but a trusted adviser who transcends tax preparation.

I feel I owe it to my clients to “sell” them additional services—and so should you!

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People List. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, published by and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition,” published by the AICPA. Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or

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