Are You Working With Another Professional?

Most of your clients have other experts who influence their lives. Your clients are  also the clients of CPAs, Attorneys, Doctors, etc. All of those experts also have other clients who are not your clients… yet. Wouldn’t it be great if their other clients could become your clients too?

Like with anyone one you are trying to build a relationship with, the first step is always to reach out to them. Ask your clients if there is a CPA or an Estate Planning Attorney in the area who they trust. If a lot of your clients give you the same couple of names, then those are the people you contact first.

Before reaching out to anyone, take a moment to google those names. What you see when you do a little research can help you reduce your list to just one or two names. Once you have figured out which professional(s) seems to align with your business ideals the most, ask those clients who suggested that person if you could use their name when calling him or her. Most of the time your clients will say “yes.”

When you contact this professional be business casual in your tone. Mention that you have heard good things about them and their business from you clients. Your initial conversation is the perfect time to plant the seed that you are looking for a partnership. Start by making the suggestion that you have some business you might like to send their way, but you would like to meet with them first. Ask if they’re available for dinner or lunch, your treat.

If they agree to meet with you, which they will, pick a nice place. It does not have to be a Michelin Star rated restaurant. You want the feel of the meeting and the restaurant to be relaxed, but still know that the wait staff will be there when you need them and they will be courteous. Don’t let the stress of bad service be a factor in your meeting, your reaction may not set you in the best light.

If your first meeting has gone well and you have now established that this is a professional you would like to work with, and they will not be competitor or try to take advantage of you, then you can move forward to grow the relationship. If you have a nice office, you could have your second meeting there. You can give them a quick tour, if you feel comfortable. This should go without saying, but just don’t leave them alone where they could have access to any confidential material. Even if you don’t believe they would do anything with it, they will notice and question your better judgement. You want them to know from the beginning that your clients’ privacy is important to you, just as much as their clients’ privacy is important to them.

The second meeting is when you need to talk more brass tacks. Make sure that this professional understands that this is a partnership, not a one way feeding trough. You are not interested in giving them all the business without getting anything in return. Be respectful, but also stand your ground. You are not a push over or someone to be taken advantage of.

The next step is to feel the situation out. If you have a client or two that is in need of the kind of services this professional offers, refer that client to him or her. If your client goes to see them and are happy, or unhappy, with this professional’s services they will let you know. They will either thank you greatly or they will ask you “Why did you ever refer us to someone like that?” That client’s interaction will tell you how the partnership is going to work out. If your first couple of referrals report well, then you can grow this partnership. If those first few referrals report back negatively, you should cut ties quickly and cleanly, and find another professional to work with.

If you’ve established that this is a professional who not only you like, but your clients also like, then it’s time to expand your relationship. Host an event together: perhaps a picnic event for both of your clients to attend. This is a great opportunity for you to introduce your clients to this professional and he or she to introduce you to his or her clients. Keep the event fun and casual. You don’t need to give a business speech; this is not a seminar.

As your trust grows with each other over time, you can expand these events to become even more fruitful. For example: group referral events, seminars, marketing flyers, letters, etc. Once you’ve established a strong partnership, your referral and prospect well will be endlessly growing.

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