This marks the return of our Pareto Academy Tip Series. This is the 11th in a new series of Tips, each featuring a ‘sneak peek’ at the bi-weekly strategies of content contained within our new Pareto Academy for Practice Management. The Pareto Academy is an on-going stream of webinar-delivered strategies that provides financial advisors and their team members with proven concepts that are easy to implement with predictable results. A one-year renewable membership enables you to implement strategies developed by the most respected authorities in the financial services sector.
Today’s Tip, touches on:
- The conundrum of the one-way street often experienced by financial advisors,
- The ‘why’ behind why accountants and lawyers often don’t refer business back to you, and;
- A basis process for reaching out to these professionals to explain your value proposition, what you are about, and how referrals will reflect back on them.
Are you one of the many financial advisors who have referred clients to accountants or lawyers over the years but have gotten virtually nothing in return? You would think – based on the law of reciprocity – that giving would start the receiving process. But that is often not the case. Often it’s a one-way street.
What is Undermining Your Refer-ability with these other Professionals?
When a client presses their accountant to suggest a financial advisor to them, many are reluctant to make an endorsement. Why do you think that is? What’s holding them back? Here is what we feel is the biggest issue that is undermining your refer-ability. The accountants/lawyers are uncertain as to how the endorsement with reflect back on them. If they are even remotely uncertain about how you will conduct yourself, or if there is a fear that the endorsement might harm their relationship, they won’t introduce a client to you. As easy as it is to wave your flag, ultimately it’s just easier not to. In their minds, it isn’t worth the risk.
Part of this stems from the fact that many accountants perceive financial advisors as salespeople selling products rather than consultants providing advice. When you position the concept of meeting with an accountant’s client as a service you are providing rather than as a favor you are requesting of them, you change their perception of you. As we often say, stewardship is far more attractive than salesmanship let alone more conducive to refer-ability. In other words, if an accountant/lawyer clearly knows what process you will follow when you meet with a client and if they know that you won’t try to sell their client a product or service, the mystery is gone and your refer-ability increases.
Many clients will see the value in lighting the path for you to their accountants. Getting their permission also lends strength to your reach-out process too. Now we realize that you probably already know the names of many of your clients’ accountants. The question is have you been able to connect with them in a way that doesn’t arouse any suspicions that you have a hidden agenda – that this is nothing more than a tactic to make more sales. Your approach has to be professional, forthright, transparent and most of all, rooted in value and service.
When you make contact, explain the reason you are calling. It will generally come down to one of two motivations – if you have never met but you have a mutual client, you’d like to discuss your financial strategy and financial outlook to be sure that you are both in sync with each other – or if you have an existing one-way street type relationship with accountant, you are calling to discuss ways that you can strengthen your relationship. Again keep in mind, the unspoken concerns and resistance revolve around these questions they will ask themselves – ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘what is the risk’?
In response to your offer to meet with them they will either accept your invite, decline, or ask you to elaborate on the phone. While it’s tempting to do an abbreviated meeting over the phone I would suggest you resist the urge and insist that you meet. A breakfast or lunch meeting or simply a sit-down in their boardroom is ideal.
Then follow a structured conversation path stressing what you are about, who are your ideal clients, and that you have several value-added services that your clients really find to be of value including the fact that you make yourself available to act as a sounding board for friends and family members. Of course, explain that the people you meet do not need to become a client to take advantage of this service – you do it because of the fulfillment that comes from helping people make informed decisions. We have a full 14-step checklist of items to cover in this conversation, and we will cover this in our Pareto Academy session during the program.
To be fair, we’re not going to suggest that this will work every time – it won’t. When it comes to persuasion and the communication of a concept you have to keep in mind that you can’t want it more than they do. This process will help you determine if there is good chemistry and a good fit for you to be able to count on each other so that you can temper your expectations accordingly. When alignments do occur, these essential ingredients will open the referral floodgates.
This content is covered in much more detail in our Pareto Academy for Practice Management along with a complete range of essential practice management components.