By SANDRO FORTE
Referral networks comprised of relevant, complementary professional service providers are the most effective methods to grow and strengthen a practice. Strategic relationships with local experts in diverse disciplines can bring high-quality prospects and a deeper offering for existing clients who require additional services.
Identify relevant professionals you’d like to network with such as lawyers, accountants, real estate agents and others who work within your target demographic. Introduce your industry and practice and your proposed arrangement. You may introduce yourself and say:
“I operate a successful financial practice with clients who frequently ask about qualified professionals. I’d love to set up a meeting to discuss referring my clients to you.”
If you present the arrangement this way, you appeal to the ego and offer what they want on a silver platter and stand a low risk of rejection. When you meet to discuss in more detail, you will be in control as the interviewer, not the interviewee.
It’s important to establish they are a reputable service-provider and do not already have a relationship with a competing financial professional. Draw boundaries and be transparent about fees. Make it clear you’re not seeking commission for referrals, but want to introduce clients to high-quality professionals. Once the basics are established, potential partners will feel incrementally more comfortable and open to the idea.
To build these relationships, it’s vital to be genuine and clear in your intentions. Invest time and energy into the process to build trust just like you would when prospecting new clients. Target a few professionals you’d like to work with and schedule lunches or coffees over a few months. Very few professionals will feel comfortable referring clients immediately after a cold call or single meeting. It will likely take a few weeks or months of regular contact to warm up the relationship. Some contacts may even wait until you send business their way before they reciprocate. A high-quality account is an excellent return on the investment.
Sandro Forte, DipPFS, a 20-year MDRT member with 20 Top of the Table honors and has built one of the UK’s most successful and highly respected businesses. His book, ‘Dare To Be Different’ has sold over 400,000 copies, across more than 60 countries – and it is now published in 8 languages.