The primary and often only marketing approach used by most advisors is to seek referrals from existing clients and from other advisors they know and trust.
Yes, successful Exit Planning advisors network, but they are also fully aware that there is simply not enough time in the day to meet with every advisor and relying on reciprocity for referrals limits the speed at which one can grow a practice. In this article, we explore three strategies Exit Planning advisors use to encourage other advisors to introduce them to business owners.
Strategy 1: Become The Recognized Expert
BEI Members have found that the key to developing robust, referral-based practices is the ability to differentiate themselves and their practices from their fellow professionals. From the buyer’s perspective, most service providers are indistinguishable from one another, so buyers are very receptive to signals that indicate one firm is more qualified to solve their problem than others. 1
Expertise is so critical to us because in the professional services, expertise is the product we are selling. Clients don’t primarily buy our services because they like us or our tools. They buy services because they trust we have the ability and knowledge to solve a business problem or seize an opportunity.
With an expertise in Exit Planning, you are more than “just” a lawyer, CPA, or financial planner. This added expertise is critical because most successful owners already have long-term relationships with an advisor in your profession. You can improve your chances of working with these owners if you offer a service to solve a business problem or seize an opportunity their existing advisors lack. Similarly, other advisors will be inclined to refer you to their clients if you are a recognized expert in a niche they don’t have.
Bottom line: Unless referring advisors view you as an expert in your field, it’s likely that they will send referrals to the other professionals in their existing networks.
Having an expertise in Exit Planning will only get you so far. You must also be recognized as an expert by your peers. You can achieve recognition in the marketplace by providing content and information to other advisors specific to your knowledge in Exit Planning expertise. Instead of you seeking expert advisors to work with your clients; market yourself to advisors as an expert and let them seek you out to work with their clients. When that happens, other expert advisors will also want you to work with their clients work as it won’t endanger their referral-based practices. To learn more about how to be seen as an expert, or thought leader, in your industry read our recent blog, How to Become a Thought Leader.
Strategy 2: Lead With What’s In It For Them.
Advisors are more likely to refer work to another advisor when there is a benefit for themselves.Be sure to highlight the benefits advisors will receive themselves when they refer you to their clients.
Benefit 1: Exit Planning results in substantially more work for the referring advisor.
You know that CPA firms routinely prepare annual tax returns and financial statements for their clients. What happens when those clients begin to plan their exits? They need additional tax planning related to the transactions, financial projections, perhaps an audit, involvement in pre-sale due diligence and more. You can guess who they turn to for those services. Keep the referring advisor as a part of your Exit Planning team.
Benefit 2: Advisors who refer their clients to Exit Planners are more likely to retain their relationships with those clients after they exit their companies. Why? Because those advisors remain involved in the planning and execution of the owner’s Exit Plan. The need for advisors after an owner’s liquidity event also remains and often increases as former owners embark on new projects.
Benefit 3: Advisors involved in their owner-clients’ Exit Plans help those clients achieve their dreams to a degree not achievable by simply delivering their core services. There is more personal satisfaction for the advisor that is involved in the Exit Planning process.
Benefit 4: A comprehensive Exit Plan requires advisors from different fields to work together to execute the plan. Because of this interaction, a referring advisor is able to network with the entire Exit Planning team. This framework opens their referral options not just to you, but the entire team.
Strategy 3: Joint Marketing Is a Win/Win
Many advisors join with members of their Exit Planning team to market to prospective clients. By combining marketing efforts, advisors gain time and cost efficiencies. Joining marketing forces with partners is also mutually beneficial for both parties because you can promote to a broader client base, dramatically increasing your reach. Partnerships also show your audience you value the organizations you work with.
BEI marketing members use several marketing resources to organize owner presentations with their referral sources, such as brandable invitations, PowerPoint and Prezi slides, assessments and tips for filling the seats.
- Gaining recognition as an expert is the most important factor in securing referrals from advisors. As a recognized Exit Planning expert, other advisors in your profession don’t view you as a competitor.
- Advisors who make referrals based on expertise in Exit Planning do so without expectation of a reciprocal referral.