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Practice Management > Building Your Business

The art and science of introductions

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The following is based on one of Norm Trainor’s clients, Simon. All of the names and telling details have been changed.

In last month’s article, I shared how Simon’s natural ability to build trust and establish close relationships with his clients enabled him to double his business through introductions, recommendations and referrals. Before we started working together, Simon’s clients would call him with introductions to friends or family. His caring nature and willingness to go the extra mile drew people to him and his business grew organically, through word of mouth.

In a service business, one of the important measures of financial success is good will. Unfortunately, Simon, who had no systemic method for leveraging his natural talent, did not know the economic impact that the introductions, recommendations and referrals he received, had on his practice. That all changed, however, once he began to apply both the art and science of introductions, recommendations and referrals.

The first rule in the art and science of introductions is to make obtaining introductions, recommendations and referrals one of the six to eight robust promotional strategies that should be part of a well-structured marketing plan. In Simon’s case, for example, sales to existing clients was his No. 1 marketing strategy with “obtaining introductions through existing clients and center of influence (C of Is)” running a close second.

The starting point in applying the science of introduction is a detailed analysis of existing clients and C of Is to determine which among them is likely to provide quality introductions. Simon wanted introductions to business owners, wealthy pre-retirees and retirees. Since “like attract like,” the best sources for this type of introduction were his existing clients who fit that same profile.

The second step is to develop a strategy around the way those introductions will take place. Keeping in mind that we live in an experience economy, the key is to create experiences that will naturally draw the people you want to meet, as well as those who are arranging the introductions. For example, like many of his clients, Simon loved to play golf; so inviting his clients to play golf and bring a guest was an easy way to obtain introductions. Hosting a series of pitch-and-putt clinics allowed Simon to do something positive for his clients while enabling them to make introductions by bringing a guest. As an avid card player, Simon also organized games where his clients brought someone they felt he should meet.

All of these experiences created an aura around Simon that set him apart as an advisor. To his clients and their friends, he became more than an advisor ?? 1/2 he became someone special. Activities such as these make up the “art” of building your clientele.

The “science” is in the measurement of the success of each activity and today, Simon can tell you the ROI on each of his activities designed to obtain introductions, recommendations or referrals. He also knows the timelines for a sale and the approximate revenue he will generate from each one. With this information, he can predict with reasonable accuracy to whom he will sell as well as what and when he will sell to them.

Sun Tzu, the great Chinese general, said: “He who maintains the initiative invariably wins; he who surrenders the initiative usually loses.” Now that Simon maintains the initiative in obtaining introductions, recommendations and referrals, he is in control of the growth of his practice. An added benefit is that he is also in charge of the types of people to whom he receives introductions, because they fit the ideal client profile he outlined to those making the referrals. Consequently, in addition to making more money, Simon is having more fun dealing with people he likes. Even science can be fun.


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