We all know that strategic alliances with other professionals should be a fundamental layer of our marketing plan. But how many of us really know how to go about forming these relationships in a way that leads to more than just empty promises, and the casual, pointless exchange of business cards that we all intuitively know end up in the trash as soon as we leave.
The truth is we live in a society of takers. Everyone has an agenda, which is usually to get what they can for themselves. This can work to your advantage, however, if you happen to be one of the few who understand that you have to give before you can receive. This is especially true when dealing with centers of influence (COI).
How many advisors do you think start the conversation with a potential COI with the question, “How can I help you?” The answer is, not many.
Isn’t that what we all want though? We all appreciate when someone recognizes our challenges and then works to help us solve and overcome them. CPAs are no different than you, me and everyone else. We all struggle to overcome challenges in our respective businesses, and if you’ll simply take the time to discover what those challenges are, you’ll be able to position yourself as an asset to the relationship. In my own practice, I do this by taking CPAs to lunch and “interviewing” them, getting to know their practice and where they feel they need help in their current stage of business. What’s remarkable is as I interview them they literally will tell me how to build a plan to work with them.
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Interview the CPA
I treat these interviews just like my client appointment process. I begin with asking a lot of questions in an attempt to understand where they’re coming from. Then, once I identify how I am uniquely positioned to help them, I formalize a plan and implement it to help them solve their problems. If you want to build a plan for integrating strategic relationships with CPAs, enrolled agents or accountants in your market, start by gaining a better understanding of their business and what they do for their clients. Then, ask them about the challenges they are currently facing. Every business owner I know is always trying to overcome something, whether it’s increasing client retention, finding new clients, increasing revenue, cutting costs, and on and on it goes.