With the end of 2013 upon us and the looming specter of the holidays and tax season just around the corner, here are five quick tips on what you need to do prior to and during tax season to make sure that you have a full pipeline of prospects come may.

  • 1. Pick your targets. Before the end of the year, identify who your top prospects are. Make a list and write it down. Keep it in front of you during tax season so you have it as a reminder each and every day. The list doesn't have to be extensive, but should include at least 10 to 20 prospects that you would absolutely love to have as clients.
  • 2. Set a schedule. Once you have created your list, work with your marketing professionals or administrative staff to set up some sort of regularly scheduled correspondence with prospects during tax season. This correspondence could be in the form of a newsletter or scheduled e-mail blast, or even just a simple firm-branded postcard. As you get closer to April 15, make sure that your correspondence indicates that you will be following up with them in the coming weeks.
  • 3. Prioritize it. You need to build time into your week for business development activities even when you have other, more pressing responsibilities. So, as we move into the upcoming crush of tax season, set aside time each week for business development -- 15 to 20 minutes for a quick prospecting phone call, e-mail or research into new developments at one of your top prospects. You can't sit on the sidelines and be a spectator during this time, because your competitors won't, and you need to develop the mindset that business development and marketing are everyday activities.
  • 4. Keep the referrals coming. Don't forget to stay in contact with your referral sources during tax season as well. Set up regularly scheduled times to send out an e-mail to your centers of influence and let them know that things are going well at your firm and that you are always looking for new clients to help. Maybe you take 10 to 15 minutes every other Monday to update them on any new developments or services, and advise them on the types of clients you are looking for. This will save you time in the long run.
  • 5. Go the extra mile. Finally, since you are already having pretty regular and in-depth conversations with your clients during the tax season, why not spend a little extra time discussing with them their future wants, needs and plans? Tax season is a great time to discover opportunities to cross-sell additional services to clients.

By following these five tips, you will continue to fill your prospect pipeline during the time when you're most busy, so you'll be that much farther ahead when the summer months come along and you have more time to dedicate to business development.
Timothy Allen is the director of practice development for WebsterRogers, a South Carolina-based regional accounting and consulting firm. Reach him at tallen@websterrogers.com.

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