Odds are that from the day you started out in this business, you heard the adage “this business is built on referrals.” Referrals may be your best source for new clients, but how do you get more high-quality referrals than your existing clients can provide?
The best way to gain additional high-quality referrals is to form “host-beneficiary” relationships. The “host” is an entity or professional who has clients that you desire. You need to show the host why it is in his or her best interest to refer clients to you. You then become “the beneficiary.”
The benefits of building these types of relationships include:
Prospects will be “warm” since someone whom they trust will have recommended you. They already know about you, your service and how you are paid.
? Once you establish these relationships, it doesnt take much time to maintain them. Therefore you can focus your efforts on meeting with prospects and clients, instead of on the phone begging for appointments.
Strategic Alliances. The most common type of host-beneficiary relationship would be strategic alliances that you develop with other professionals, such as accountants or lawyers who serve the type of clients you want to target. Your goal should be to develop a network that will refer business to you, and you will reciprocate by sending your clients to other members of your strategic alliance. But to successfully do this, you need to start thinking “outside the box.”
For example, life agents long ago started calling on property-casualty agents, as p-c agents make the perfect hosts. In return, the life agent can provide referrals or compensation (depending on state law).
Perhaps your specialty is money management. In this case, you need to work with professionals who see money in transition and can send you clients. This is money that has just been acquired and needs to be invested. It could come from a business sale, lawsuit, divorce, property sale, lottery wining or death benefit.
Sources who would know about this money in transition go beyond the obvious attorneys and accountants. Additional sources include real estate brokers, business brokers and funeral directors. How many relationships do you have with these types of professionals? In each case, you can refer business to them or compensate them if state laws allow it.
To Receive, Give First. Call the professionals you want to meet. Tell them that you have clients who you think may be able to use their services. Offer to take them to lunch. What professional would turn you down? At lunch, find out about them, their practices and what types of clients they want. Position yourself as a resource for those types of clients. You must establish your value to this professional as a means of building his practice. Offer them referrals first, as a show of good faith.
You can also discuss mutual marketing techniques that can help you both build your practices. Attempt to leave the lunch with a joint marketing commitment, such as mailing to each others client lists a jointly presented seminar, or a mention in each others newsletters.