This might very well be one of the most eye-opening posts I’ve written yet in this series. If you’ve ever tried forming strategic alliances only to find you never got any referrals once the CPA or other professional agreed to work with you, you’re certainly not alone. What I’m going to share with you this week is going to open your eyes in a big way as to why you experienced this result (or I guess I should say, lack of results).

Here’s the reality: The approach almost 100 percent of advisors use in building strategic alliances only goes about halfway to successfully implementing the relationship. The approach usually goes like this: “Get the CPA (or whomever) to like me, get them to agree to work with me, and then sit back and wait for the referrals to come flooding in.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you’ve experienced something similar to this. I think anyone who’s ever tried forming strategic alliances has been there and experienced that. I know I have.

The difference in my relationships now is that I finally realized where I was falling short. The core problem with the approach was twofold.

  1. I was waiting on the CPA to do the referring.
  2. The CPA’s clients never knew the relationship existed unless the CPA told them about it.

So how did I solve these problems? I found a way to build direct relationships and gain personal introductions to each and every one of the CPA’s clients. I realized that once I got the CPA on board I had to get creative in building an approach that would take the responsibility of referring out of the hands of the CPA, and put the CPA’s clients in control of referring themselves

(If the light bulb didn’t just come on, read the above paragraph again.)

That one nugget of wisdom and insight was a real game changer for me. The reason this is such a huge key to success in working with alliances is because very few advisors in your market competing to work with the CPA’s clients ever realize this. Which means, because you’re reading this blog you’re already way ahead of the competition.

In my practice, this realization was one of the keys that really put the strategic relationships I had formed on fast forward. I realized that I had to develop a marketing strategy that would position me front and center within the CPA’s base of clients. I wanted them to get to know me, who I am, and what it is that I did for clients well before they ever met me in person. I did this through various marketing components, which not only served as a way of bringing value to the relationship with the CPA, but also acted as introduction tools. They are the conduit through which I am introduced to the CPA’s clients and through which the message is communicated that “Hey, Brandon is our guy. He’s the one we recommend our clients work with.” If I were waiting for the CPA to call each of their clients and relay this message, it would never happen.

The harsh reality is that without a marketing strategy in place, your alliances are dead in the water, plain and simple. If you always wait for the other professional to do the referring it will never happen. Sure, you may get two to four referrals a year, but to truly build a 100 percent professional referral-based practice you have to put the clients in control—primarily because a CPA working 10 to 12 hour days during the hectic tax season doesn’t have the time to proactively refer you to clients. They’re doing all they can just to survive another tax season and get all the returns done on time. 

Drop me a note

In the coming weeks I’m going to share with you a new twist on some old marketing tools and strategies that, when used properly, will serve to position you as the go-to expert among any professional’s base of clients. So that you don’t have to wait until next week for a preview, here are some of the tools that we’ll be talking about: websites, newsletters, emails and joint events, just to name a few. The real key to success though is in how you use each of these tools. Check back next week as I begin to break each of them down and outline how you can utilize the same tools to strengthen your own strategic alliances.

Also, as my way of saying thanks for reading to the end this week, I’d like to offer to send you a copy of a report I just finished titled: Why 97 Percent of Advisors Don’t Get Referrals From CPAs.” If you’d like a copy of the report, just leave a comment below with your thoughts on the Strategic Alliance Advisor blog this week, as well as your name and email and I’ll send it on over to you. Thanks for reading!

For more from Brandon Stuerke, see: