Leveraging the networks of other quality professionals to generate new business is still a relatively underutilised strategy by most IFAs and financial planners, suggests Matt Anderson, of The Referrals Academy. Here he presents a step-by-step guide to improving your success in this key area.
Why are so many advisers not working effectively with other professionals? I suggest that it is primarily because they simply don’t know how to do it effectively.
If this is an area you’ve identified for development, then carve out some time each week on the following three steps and within six months you will see some measurable shifts in tangible opportunities:
- Decide who you want to meet.
Be extremely clear about this otherwise almost nobody will help you.
The traditional adviser asks are to meet specific types of accountants and lawyers – and for a good reason. They are often at the centre of people’s financial world. Of course, you already know that success here will involve much trial and error because most people in these professions are not particularly skilled in the world of business development. You will need to persevere and knock on other doors because it could be a long journey.
Seek out other people of influence who will be connected to a network of others in different organisations and vocations. Start to build strong relationships with a small number of those operating in people-orientated industries such as executive recruiting, commercial property, event organisers, leaders in associations, and board members. It’s important to keep an open mind about who could be great at opening doors for you.
One idea is to tell others that you “like to meet well-connected people who genuinely like to connect others” (this is what I say). There are not many people out there like this and they are more likely to know others like them because that’s who they want to spend their time with. Yes, you will kiss a lot of frogs on the way but you must persist. The ‘right people’ really do exist.
How do you get there?
- Make partners
This is the most important part because it’s where our neediness and fear fail us.
As you meet different people, you must put yourself second and focus on how you can help the other person to grow their business. This is what most top IFAs do in order to succeed with introducers. The better you get at this, the faster you will see doors open for you.
The best connector I know put it this way: “When people see you as a partner instead of a salesperson, all that armour that they put up against being sold something is gone, because now they see you as someone who has come to help them with whatever their problems are – and that’s much more important to them.”
It’s quite easy to put yourself second because most people love talking about themselves. So, what you must do first is find out what they want, who they want to meet, and do as much as you can to help them. Counter-intuitive as it may sound, if they have been introduced to you by someone you trust, you really don’t HAVE to spend much time getting to know them. This is a nice-to-have at first – and only important long-term if they’re going to be a profitable introducer for you.
It is good practice to write down what they want: it’s important for people to see that their needs matter to you. Then follow up within 24 hours on what you said you would do. You will really surprise them because hardly anybody does this. Most people only talk a good game.
This will get you profitable introductions far quicker. Like all journeys of success, it will not happen in three months and it will have peaks and valleys, but the peaks will grow and grow.
Another tip to bear in mind is that you will discover people’s needs more readily by asking them questions such as:
- What the best type of business you’re looking for?
- What else are you hoping to accomplish in the next year or so? (I love this question because you never know what people are going to say and it sometimes makes it easier to help them)
- Who do you need to meet to help you grow your business? Most people respond in broad generalities to this question which is useless because your goal is to walk away with the names of actual people you can introduce them to.
Show courage here and keep digging until you get several specific ideas: you can start with industries, niche markets, and specific professions until the person says they want to meet people in banking, franchising, venture capital, healthcare, or law firms. If they name a huge sector such as “the medical field”, you must dig further to narrow it down to areas like dentists, care home owners, or suppliers to hospitals.
The common reaction/objection/fear is to say to ourselves: “but I don’t know very many people.” We feel foolish by asking the question because we think we don’t know anyone. This is a mind-set you must change because it will never serve you. If you dig deep enough and continue to meet new people regularly, you will discover that you do, in fact, know many more people than you realise.
Another part of the problem is that almost nobody keeps track of their network, so take steps to do so now. Start compiling a word document of introductory paragraphs for each person you know, so that it is searchable by name. These paragraphs are going to be useful to you in order to connect them to others.
How else can you bring value to others?
It’s notable that great referral givers are superior listeners. Pay closer attention to other ways you can help to put “water in the well” beyond financial planning. Examples of this may be:
- Give them some good ideas that can help them in their professional lives
- Build relationships: are there events or groups you belong to – or you could organise – that you could invite them to? This is a great strategy for building relationships and introducing others. This can include social events too. You’re in a relationship business after all!
- Acts of service: identify particular causes which matter to them that you could help with
- Unexpected gifts – everyone loves them but send ones that are personalised to them
- Quality time – it sounds tacky but that’s how some people feel most acknowledged
Make it a daily habit to spend at least 15 minutes trying to help others in your network in ways which are beyond your business.
- Ask for introductions to the specific types of people you want to meet
You need not have worried all along. Now, having done the ground work, you are in a far more powerful position to spell out the types of people you want to meet. Often, they will be asking you. Make sure specific people are identified for introductions, but there is a word of caution here: this does not come easily to many IFAs. Just as you had to dig hard with others to identify specifics, so you will need to work with others on this too. The good news is that if you have helped them out, others will spend that time with you.
Finally, you should practise these techniques until you see the fruits of your labour: when you help people to get what they want, it is human nature for them to want to reciprocate. The profitable introducers will rise to the surface.
About Matt Anderson
Matt Anderson, founder of The Referrals Academy, has grown his business almost exclusively by referrals. He has trained and coached people from over 30 countries and specialises in helping financial advisers to get more and better prospects. He is based in Chicago but was born and raised in Coventry.
He is the author of the international bestseller Fearless Referrals, which Brian Tracy, author of The Psychology of Sales, says “teaches you the “Golden Rules” for developing a continuous chain of high quality referrals for any product in any business.” The book is available on Amazon.
Connect with Matt on LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/mattandersonintl
Check out Matt’s blog: https://matt-anderson.mykajabi.com/blog