Most business advisors should be using referrals to earn extra income for themselves as a standard part of their commercial strategy. - Yet, many don’t seem to bother. It begs the question, why?
Surely every business advisor should be using referrals to colleagues as an important source of extra income?
Business advisors and consultants typically fall into two categories of expertise: Specialists, and Generalists.
So what’s the difference?
Well the clue is in the description. A specialist tends to have a specific in-depth expertise (for example, sales, marketing, HR, finance, transformation/change, etc), while a generalist may have a much broader skill set that covers a number of disciplines (but maybe not to the same depth of knowledge in any specific area).
Both types can bring huge value in terms of expertise and experience to a client.
However, generalists are typically more likely to refer a client to a specialist colleague (if the need arises) than the other way round. They are more used to gaining a percentage of their income from referrals and see it as a good way of delivering high quality services to their clients.
But what about specialists?
It would be a true observation to say that some specialists do indeed refer clients to other colleagues, however many don’t. Again the question is why?
Answers I have had back when I have asked this question include:
I don’t like pushing the client for more business.
I am not comfortable with selling.
The client will tell me if he wants more help.
I don’t like the idea of giving someone else access to my client.
I don’t have confidence in certain other business advisors.
I just want to do what I am good at and get paid.
The list goes on.
One of the answers of course – for EVERY business advisor – is to ensure they are well connected to other advisors with different skills and areas of expertise. Taking the time to network and get to know such colleagues will go a long way towards allaying any fears that your client relationship might be at risk if you introduce a colleague.
Think of it the other way round for a minute: Imagine you are a finance person and your client starts to ask you about R and D Tax Credits. – Let’s assume this is not your area of expertise.
Now imagine how happy your client is going to be with you if you introduce an expert colleague who successfully gains him an R and D Tax Credit. – Everyone wins but you are seen as the ‘instrument of success’ and will end up with a strengthened relationship with your client.
Business advisors should be referring R and D Tax Credit enquires to specialist colleagues. They should also be referring other specialist areas to colleagues safe in the knowledge that nobody is going to steal the client from them and they are actually doing the client a big favour by looking for other areas where they can be of help.
My advice to a new business advisor is to network, network and network.
Referring clients is a great way to build relationships with both customers AND other business advisors. It should be part of the plan for all business advisors, coaches and consultants.
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