There are two entities that can double your business in a year with no cost…your clients and CPA’s. If they refer it costs you nothing. If they refer, you will double or triple you profitability…but that is a big IF.
I know of nobody that is getting 3 or 4 referrals month in and month out. Why?
We’ll talk about clients on another blog. Let’s talk about CPA’s and attorney’s today.
Do You have a system to get Professionals to refer to you?
Oh sure, we would maybe take a CPA out to lunch or refer a client or two to an estate planning attorney, in the hopes that they would reciprocate and refer back. However, most advisors do not set up the same type of systematic marketing for professionals that they do for the public with seminars, lead programs, and advertisements.
Smart financial advisors everywhere are beginning to realize the advantages of leveraging referrals from CPAs and attorneys. As an industry, we have allowed them to take advantage of us for years. We have in good faith referred our clients out for tax preparation and legal work. We have ushered client after client out our door and into theirs. We have become their main source of referrals and income. In fact, many CPAs and attorneys would find their income cut in half if it wasn’t for referrals provided to them by Financial Advisors.
Yet, how often do we see referrals back to us? Rarely. Up to this point all we have done is whined about the unfairness of it all. Enough is enough. Clients regularly ask their CPAs for the name of a good financial advisor and so do attorney’s clients. Do they recommend us? Rarely.
Why don’t CPAs and attorneys want to refer to us?
They give us all sorts of reasons why they don’t refer.
- I’m not comfortable
- You are just one of the many advisors that refer to me and I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me
- It doesn’t come up
- I will next time
- And on and on
I believe the reasons they don’t refer back to us is different for CPAs than it is for attorneys. Of course, I am making general assumptions here, but hear me out.
CPAs have big hearts
I know that we think of CPAs as being these robotic, wooden humans that are void of emotions but think about it. CPAs protect their clients. They are almost like mother hens sheltering their broods from the big bad world. They do not want anything to hurt their clients. This is to be applauded.
Unfortunately, many CPAs are not really familiar with what we do for our clients. Since unfamiliarity breeds mistrust, they feel the best way to protect their clients is to recommend for their clients to stay the course…to do nothing.
Yes, maybe our suggestion could save their client taxes…but it might lose them money. Yes, maybe our solution is beautiful to us but it is foreign to them. Yes, we MAY want to help their clients BUT they REALLY want to help them.
It is much more difficult to get into trouble by doing nothing than doing something (as financial advisors, we know the trouble people get into by doing nothing: Paying too much in taxes. Not growing their money enough. Or trying to grow the money too fast and having a portfolio that is too aggressive during a market correction.)
However, to an accountant, we all look like money grubbing salespeople that want to get at their clients wallets to fatten our own bank accounts. They know that a few of us are good but why take the risk. So, just like we tell our kids, they tell their clients, “Just say no,” to whatever that financial advisor recommends. And God forbid that they would put their clients into the lion’s den by recommending their clients come see us!
Attorneys have big egos
No surprise to most of you. Attorneys always have to be right. They have to be the center of attention. Their egos have to be fed. If you know an attorney, you know that they know everything about everything and would never stoop to having to ask for help from a mere mortal, like a financial advisor. They feel perfectly qualified to give their clients advice on any subject from law to heart surgery to car mechanics to financial planning.
Need I say more?
Same solution works for both problems
So CPAs don’t trust us and attorneys think it is beneath them to refer to us. Two different problems but luckily the same solution works for both problems. In Dr. Cialdini’s book Influence: Science and Practice, he breaks influence down into 6 principles.
Cialdini and Ethical Influence
Utilizing a simple combination of five of those principles is what works.
Reciprocation – You then me, then you, then me…Be the first to give:
Authority – Showing knowing…Establish position through:
- Industry knowledge
- Your credentials
- Admitting weaknesses first
Consistency – The starting point…Start:
- Small and build
- With existing commitments
- From public positions
- Once you start, deliver on time, every time
Liking – Making friends to influence people…Uncover:
- Areas for genuine compliments
- Opportunities for cooperation
Consensus – People proof, people power…Unleash people power by showing:
- Responses of many others
- Other’s past successes
- Testimonials of similar others
Build a referral machine
First, what is a machine? It is a device that modifies energy to perform or assist in the performance of a repetitive task. Another definition is a device for overcoming resistance at one point by applying force at some other point. Both of these concepts work well with how to get referrals from other professionals when combined with Dr. Cialdini’s Principles of Influence.
For years we have known the value of dripping on our clients and prospects with newsletters, phone calls and other methods. It is a testament to how well this has worked that more and more entities use these tools.
Have you ever considered a drip program for CPAs and attorneys? Not simply sending them the same thing you send your prospects and clients! That does not make them feel special. If you try to use your client/prospect drip on them it simply seems like you added them as an afterthought…that you don’t even look at them as professionals but just as some other sucker.
Feed Their Need!
By creating a systematized drip designed specifically for CPAs or attorneys you will give them both what they need.
You will give CPA’s the information they need to determine that you will not hurt their clients…that you only want to help. By having a specialized drip program that leverages all of Dr. Cialdini’s principles, you will effectively influence accountants to begin to refer to you. What should your CPA drip system include?
- Reciprocation – Give them information about the financial industry that can make their job easier. Not product information but how different tax laws are affecting investments, easier ways to get 1099’s at the end of the year, resources they may not have heard about. Give them heads up about financial scams to look for, etc. Give them success stories about happy clients. And give them referrals.
- Authority – By doing the above it will also show them that you are a person that knows what’s going on and that they could count on if they have an investment related question.
- Consistency – By doing these things in a consistent manner, monthly or bi-weekly, they will see that you are here to stay and are reliable (HUGE issue with accountants.)
- Liking – By including things about your family and your activity in the charitable arena they will begin to know you and your values. They will start to feel like they know you as a friend.
You will give attorneys the information they need to feel important and to feed their ego…
- Reciprocation – Always genuinely compliment them. Mention other attorneys that have done a great job for your clients. Make them stars. Also, give them information about the financial industry that can make their job easier. Not product information but how different estate laws are affecting investments, information on Medicare or LTC as it applies to legal advice, issues that may affect their clients, etc. Give them success stories about happy clients. And give them referrals.
- Authority – By doing the above, it will also show them that you are a person that knows what’s going on and that they could count on you if they have an investment related question. This is important to them so that they can have all the answers for their clients.
- Scarcity – By mentioning attorneys that have done a great job, it will make other attorneys want to be mentioned as well…did we talk about egos earlier?
- Consistency – By doing these things in a consistent manner, monthly or bi-weekly, they will see that you are here to stay and are reliable.
- Liking – By including things about your family and your activity in the charitable arena they will begin to know you and your values. They will start to feel like they know you as a friend…and with attorneys it’s all about who knows who.
Does This Really Work?
Nope. Because nobody does it. Yep. Because nobody does it. I take that back. I coach 150 of the top financial planners in the country. These guys are easily in the top 5% in income for advisors. How many of them take the time and effort to create and utilize these professional drip systems? Two, even with me yelling at them monthly to do it!
These two have had terrific success with it. They have had attorneys that they have been referring to for over 10 year without a single referral back hand over 10 referrals in a week within a month of using a professional drip system.
They have gone from being just another broker to someone that is respected and known and invited to speak at their gatherings.
They have gone from relying on the old methods of seminars, leads and ads to getting highly qualified and pre-sold prospects (I hope you already know that when an attorney or CPA refers their client, you have a 99.9% chance of getting the deal.)
You know that this works. Why aren’t you doing it? Too hard? Haven’t considered it before? Don’t know how? No one else is doing it. You have a once in a lifetime opportunity to get a strangle hold on the professionals in your town. Don’t blow it.
Few people in the financial industry go after professional referrals aggressively which is baffling. If you asked 100 advisors in what manner they would like new people to come to see them…99 would say referred from an accountant or attorney.
Yes it takes some time to come up with a drip system skewed towards them but don’t you agree its worth it? Sit down and think about the Principles of Influence and how you could incorporate them into regular scheduled contacts with targeted professionals in your community. The time spent will put hundreds of thousands into your pockets.
What to Do Next
Don’t let all of the everyday hassles we all face in the financial industry everyday keep your from getting started on the above information today. Remember the difference between urgent and important. It is the important things like putting client acquisition strategies in place that will ensure your profitable practice…not answering the phone that is ringing on your desk right now.