I was asked this question by a tax adviser who had started her own practice a year or so ago.

She had seen other people being criticised online for pitching for work. We’ve probably all seen the messages containing overt sales pitches. And others that include ‘special offers’ but which still come across as crass, unthoughtful and opportunistic.

Especially in these unprecedented times, none of us wants to damage our credibility through the way we promote our services.

Still though I would say that is fine, in principle, for you to try to win new clients at this time.

I would suggest however that your primary focus should first be on helping your existing clients. This is especially the case if your pitch to new clients is to offer the help that their current accountants have not provided. You need to practice what you preach!

As regards trying to win new clients I suggest you think about how you react to others who are trying to sell to you at this time. Or indeed, at any time. Few of us like it. Even less so when we have other important priorities. And we probably all have even more of these at the moment than ever before.

Now, the question I was asked was not: Is it ok to try selling my services at this time?

If that had been the question I would say, NO. Not if your focus is on ‘selling’ as such.

Of course it does depend on how you define selling. I prefer to think about it more as being of service. The process often starts by gaining an understanding of someone’s needs, problems, challenges and difficulties. This process includes clarifying the negative impact (financial, strategic, emotional etc) of these problems etc and then discussing potential solutions and the positive impact that could flow from these. Being of service in this way is way of helping people, not selling to them.

When you approach people with genuine interest and positive intent you are not exploiting or taking advantage. You are helping. If it doesn’t come across that way, you’re doing it wrong! Effective communication is never defined by your intentions but by how well it is received. If others misunderstand you then YOU have to change the way you communicate. You can’t force anyone to listen differently!

And of course, it’s even easier if they are approaching you because they want help with a specific tax issue, challenge or problem. And, of course, that’s what happens when they search online and find you via this Tax Advice Network website.