One of the biggest concerns I hear from accountants and lawyers is their ability to provide enough value to the referral partner relationships they have. This usually occurs when one party has more referrals or business to give than the other party. As I commented in one of my earlier blogs, ‘Building Referral Partnerships’, a referral partner relationship must be a ‘two-way street’ to remain healthy. That said, value isn’t only about providing new client referrals. There are a number of things you can do to bring value to the table for your referral partners.
Here are 10.5 ways you can be effective in keeping your referral partners engaged and loyal to you:
- Drive direct business to your best referral partners by sending your clients, colleagues, vendors, friends and family to them.
- Make high-level introductions to other referral partners in your network, which can sometimes be more valuable than providing direct business. That’s right, if you can’t refer business to them, find a good referral source for them.
- Set them up for a speaking engagement. You’ll help them gain visibility and credibility.
- Provide accounting advice (if you’re an accountant)/legal advice (if you’re a lawyer) to help them solve a business or family problem.
- Post their information on your website or send it out in your next client mailing. Ask them to guest write an article in your newsletter or quote them in your newsletter as an expert. Find ways to do joint promotions/projects/marketing with them.
- Be your referral partners’ ‘go to’ person for anything they need whether it’s a home mortgage broker a social media guru for their business. This is much easier if you’ve been networking for a while and have built up a network of quality contacts.
- Invite your referral partners to join you at networking events, board meetings or charity events where you can introduce them around. Buy an extra ticket to a big event with a top-shelf speaker. Sit your referral partner at your table and have him/her meet your clients in a relaxed social setting.
- Start your own private networking group and include your top referral partners.
- Be awesome at what you do! In some cases your referral partners just want to refer someone who takes care of his/her people. They’re not looking for reciprocity, just excellence.
- Nominate your top referral partners for recognition and awards. You’ll help them gain prestige. Write a recommendation of them on LinkedIn. Provide them with a glowing testimonial they can use on their website and in their marketing materials.
10.5. Be social with your best referral partners. Invite them to join you at the ‘game’ with one of your best clients or just meet them at the pub for a drink after work. Buy them lunch and have an in-depth conversation. Remember their birthday. Occasionally stop by their place of work and bring a bottle of premium wine with you to share.
By using one or more of these tactics, you’ll keep your best referral partners happy and loyal to you. Sometimes we have to be creative to ensure we’re being valuable to the relationships we value most. Without doing for others on a regular basis, we open ourselves up for disappointment when one of our partners changes teams.
When you stop being valuable, you’re no longer valuable. Ouch!
I hope you found this helpful. If you’d like to dig into a bit more detail just drop me an email and I’d be happy to discuss over a coffee or the phone.