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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Get Referrals From Professionals—Not Just CPAs and Attorneys

Odds are that from the day you started out in this business, you heard the adage “this business is built on referrals.” Referrals may be your best source for new clients but how do you get more high quality referrals than your existing clients can provide?

The best way to gain additional high quality referrals is to form “host-beneficiary” relationships. The “host” is an entity or professional that has clients that you desire. You will show the host why it is in his interest to refer their clients to you. You become “the beneficiary.”

The benefits of these types of relationships include:
• Prospects will be “warm” since someone whom they trust will have recommended you. They already know about you, your service, and how you are paid.
• Once you establish these relationships, it doesn’t take much time to maintain them. Therefore you can focus your efforts on meeting with prospects and clients, instead of on the phone begging for appointments.

Strategic Alliances
The most common type of host-beneficiary relationship would be strategic alliances that you develop with other professionals, such as accountants or lawyers who serve the type clients you want to target. Your goal should be to develop a network that will refer business to you, and you will reciprocate by sending your clients to other members of your strategic alliance. But you need to start thinking outside the box.

For example, life agents long ago started calling on P&C agents as P&C agents make the perfect hosts. In return, the life agent can provide referrals or compensation (depending on State law).
Perhaps your specialty is money management. In this case, you need to work with professionals who see money in transition ands can send you clients. This is money that has just been acquired and needs to be invested. It could come from a business sale, lawsuit, divorce, property sale, lottery wining, or death benefit. Sources who would know about this money in transition include not only attorneys and accountants but also real estate brokers, business brokers and funeral directors. How many relationships do you have with these types of professionals?

In each case, you can refer business to them or compensate them if legal in your state.

Give First to Receive
Call the professionals whom you want to meet. Tell them that you have clients who you think may be able to use their services. Offer to take them to lunch. What professional would turn you down? At lunch, find out about them, their practices, and what types of clients they want. Position yourself as a resource for those types of clients. You must establish your value to this professional as a means of building his practice. Offer them referrals first, as a show of good faith.

You can also discuss mutual marketing techniques that can help you both build your practices. Attempt to leave the lunch with a joint marketing commitment, such as, mailing to each other’s client lists, a jointly presented seminar, or a mention in each other’s newsletters.

Another good way to find professionals to align yourself with is to ask your family and existing clients. Your top clients likely work with accountants or lawyers you may be able to partner with. An introduction from a mutual client serves to give you instant credibility with these possible partners.

Creative Possibilities
A little creativity can go a long way in your search for good “hosts” you can partner with. I knew one long term care insurance producer who contacted the local hospital’s senior services coordinator. As you may know, hospitals have very active departments for courting the seniors in the local area. They provide free blood tests, cholesterol screening, exercise classes, etc.
This agent offered to teach a monthly class on long-term care insurance. The hospital viewed his classes as an added service they could offer the seniors.

Each class he taught introduced him to the attendees and established him as a trusted expert. He spends the days after each class meeting with seniors, in an office that the hospital provides, writing applications for LTC insurance. He found the perfect host and now he’s a rich beneficiary.This approach was so successful that this is now his sole marketing method. He travels his state giving classes on long-term care insurance, and writing policies after them. He is a top LTC producer in the US.

Other creative possibilities could include:

o Local professional associations. You can join the local realtor’s
association as an associate member. Develop relationships and let them
know you are seeking for example, senior clients who are trading down and will
have a wad of cash to invest. Or young families with income over $100,000
and three children for a significant life sale.
o What about people who
sell office furniture? Do you think they can introduce you to business
owners with expanding businesses who might need insurance, estate planning and
investment advice?
o If college funding is your thing, do you think
teachers might be a good source of referrals to parents? Virtually every
county has one or two teachers associations you can probably join.

It takes some creative thinking to establish good host-beneficiary relationships, but once in place, most take little maintenance. By offering a winning solution to a complementary professional seeking to grow their business (or seeking extra income), you can effectively create a stream of additional business for yourself.

Post provided by Javelin Marketing


Mark Nagurski said...

The example you give of the person teaching the class to seniors is a good one. Often what's needed to get (and keep) these kinds of host beneficiary relationships moving is some form of content - written, live, recorded. It gives your partners something of value to offer their clients and serves to demonstrate your expertise.