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We all appreciate that it takes a great deal of time and effort to win new clients and retaining them relies on consistently providing real value.

That’s all well and good with clients who are running their business successfully, but what about those that aren’t? Losing a client to insolvency is just as bad as losing a client to a competitor.

The increase in the use of cloud accounting software gives accountants instant access to the client’s financial numbers and this puts you in an ideal position to spot trends and challenges long before they become critical problems. So here are a few pointers to look out for.

Low or declining profit or, heaven forbid, losses
This may seem blindingly obvious to someone who’s financially aware, but many owner-managed businesses continue to operate in the same way even when problems are growing. What are the root causes? Falling prices? Increased direct costs or overheads? Spotting trends early gives you the opportunity to advise the client on potential actions to address the problem.

Declining revenues
Is the client facing increased competition? Are the selling activities effective? Are prices being discounted too readily? Is the client communicating the value of their products or services effectively? Maybe the client needs an independent view of how they’re selling along with advice and guidance on how to improve the effectiveness of sales activities.

Declining customer numbers
Even if revenues look healthy, a decline in the number of active customers should be a warning sign of potential problems in the future. Over reliance on a shrinking number of customers puts the client at increased risk of real financial problems if one or more customers decide to go elsewhere. Maybe the client needs help in finding new customers.

Declining Cash Flow
Lack of cash is the biggest killer of businesses. If there’s insufficient cash to pay suppliers or employees, the business can rapidly spiral into oblivion. Is the cause simply an ability to collect outstanding debtors? Maybe they need an injection of
working capital? Maybe declining sales is the real problem?

Lack of focus
We’ve all seen clients that try and be all things to all men. You know the ones… they get excited when a potential customer likes the product on offer but needs that little extra something. The client tries to provide this and ends up with a list of products that are unique to specific customers. Understanding what a client is good at along with the characteristics of an “ideal customer” will enable them to remain focused on selling more effectively.. and more frequently.


Providing these early warnings is a key factor in accountants being a true “trusted advisor” for their clients. Accountants can provide the financial analysis and advice, but if the root cause of the problem is sales related, then maybe Proten Sales Development can help.