Influential Advisors: Your Key To Consistent Referrals
How do you methodically and consistently receive at least 2 qualified referrals each week? The key is to build long-term relationships with other influential advisors.
It is important to distinguish these people from centers of influence. An influential advisor is a person who can give advice to others. A center of influence is a person who can persuade others to talk to you or provide a worthy introduction.
Influential advisors include A clients, accountants, attorneys, other financial services professionals and referrals from A clients. They also include individuals you meet at your local estate planning council or doing volunteer work for the community. Lets look at each.
A clients may include not only accountants and attorneys, but also physicians, consultants, salespeople, etc. Because 70% to 80% of our production ultimately derives from our A clients, it is crucial to develop them into influential advisors who can give advice. Review your list of A clients to discover which people have the potential to become influential advisors.
It is critical that you target accounting practices. I separate them into 3 types: solo practitioners or partnerships with 2 to 3 principals; mid-size firms with 3 to 10 principals; and large firms with 10 or more partners.
My efforts are focused on sole practitioners and small accounting partnerships of 2 to 3 principals. Over the years, Ive tried to develop relationships with mid-size and large accounting firms but had no luck doing so.
My hometown, the greater New Orleans area, is comprised of numerous small to mid-size, closely held family businesses. Many of these firms work with sole practitioners and small accounting partnerships. Because these clients see me and their accountants as advice givers, I have had the greatest success partnering with small accounting firms.
I strive to develop relationships with tax and estate planning attorneys who can refer their clients to me. I also have had success with attorney clients who have become judges. In certain cases, they recommended me to defense and plaintiff attorneys.
Plaintiff attorneys can be an excellent source of referrals. They are influential advisors to their clients when monetary settlements are involved. By strategically positioning yourself “next to” the plaintiff attorney in settlement proceedings, you can become the influential advisor of choice.
Other Financial Services Professionals
Some of the best influential advisors are other financial services professionals, who often will refer business they do not or cannot engage in. During the last 5 years, this source has generated quite a number of referrals.
Many of these professionals are fee-based financial planners who have referred their clients to me for individual health insurance and individual long term care insurance needs. We do not work together in situations involving products and services they provide to their clients. And we do not split commissions.
I developed my relationships with these fee-based planners through local industry association work and volunteering. They know they can trust me not to speak to their clients about anything except that product or service for which they are being referred. For me, the ultimate compliment is when a peer professional refers their client(s) to me.
How do I meet other influential advisors? How can I be introduced to them? Here is what I have done and continue to do today:
Referrals from my A clients
Who are the advisors that my A clients work with? Who else do my clients know who might be a giver of advice? The best opportunities to obtain referrals from these clients is during an annual or periodic review or while we are having a meal together.
Local Estate Planning Council
I have been a member of the New Orleans Estate Planning Council for more than 15 years. The council consists of life insurance professionals, attorneys, accountants, trust officers and planned giving professionals.
At each of our dinner meetings, we average 80 or so attendees, so the opportunity to network is easy. All you have to do is show up. The key is to attend meetings regularly.
Volunteer Work in the Community
I have developed important relationships with influential advisors by volunteering my time with community and religious organizations, educational institutions, and industry-related organizations, such as the local Rotary Club.