Irma Zaldivar, ELLS CPAs & Business
As you look to grow your business, it is important to develop a strong
marketing plan that looks beyond traditional forms of advertising, direct mail,
and email campaigns. A reliable marketing method that deserves an allocation of
funds is referral source marketing. Using their networks and networking skills are
effective methods to broaden your client base. It is, however, important to
keep in mind that a successful referral partnership must be reciprocal.
So, how do you initiate the process?
Identify referral partnerships
Look for other
professionals who have the same client base as you. Do you want manufacturing
clients? If so, you will want to develop a partnership with bankers, attorneys,
etc. also targeting that industry. Do you have an estate and trust niche? If
so, you will want to build partnerships with estate and trust attorneys. By first
defining your ideal prospect, you can then identify other professionals who are
targeting the same type of prospect. Find professionals who are established in
their market and whose quality of products and services match yours. For
example, if you are a large accounting firm, it is moot to partner with a
referral source with low producing clients.
Develop a plan of approach
Take a close look at
your referral partners and identify what you are looking for with each one. Consider
hosting a mixer with a law firm similar in size that targets the same niche as
you. Do you want to grow your pension audit practice and develop more
partnerships with third party administrators? Once you have developed a target
list of potential referral sources, it is time to create relationships with
Set up an appointment
A partnership cannot
be established with a banker, attorney, etc. that you have only met once or
twice. Make it a point to schedule one-on-one meetings with this potential
referral source. An effective way to accomplish this is to acknowledge their
reputation and knowledge in their business. Do not expect a commitment during
your initial meeting. It will take time for these referral partnerships to
prosper. Discuss and define your ideal client type and introduce one or two
services at each meeting to avoid overwhelming them.
Show your value as a partner
Invite your referral
source to join your online networks (e.g.
LinkedIn) and include them in association events that might interest them. You
also can send them an article they might like to share with their clients or
prospects. It is important to introduce them to other people in your network
and stay in touch regularly. You might also consider inviting them to visit
your office and meet your staff.
Once your referral sources know enough about your business, clientele,
and services you offer, they will feel more comfortable introducing you to
their prospects or clients. Building these relationship will be challenging,
but sustaining the relationship will be the most important. Keep a log of all your
meetings with action items clearly noted. Keep track of the clients these
referral sources are sending to you. Those that are referring business to you
should be informed as to whether their referral became a client or not. Do not
forget to recognize and thank your referral sources for their efforts – this
will encourage additional referrals.
Remember to take the lead in your relationships with referral partners
– be patient and willing to spend the necessary time and effort it takes to cultivate