From the May 01, 2010 issue of Senior Market Advisor • Subscribe!

Rethinking referrals: When seminars don't work

Getting new clients was once a relatively easy process. You would send out invitations to a seminar or workshop via direct mail, people eager to learn about your services and expertise would attend and you'd gain new business. Unfortunately, consumers today are skeptical--they don't believe there is such a thing as a free lunch (or in this case a free lunch or dinner seminar), and are reluctant to attend, leaving you without a reliable way to bring in new clients.

One suggestion to resolve this problem and gain new clients is to form partnerships with other financial professionals in your community and ask them to refer their clients to your practice. This kind of grassroots effort may seem difficult, but if it is done properly, you can reap some amazing rewards.

It's important to choose your partners wisely. One way to ensure synergy is to target the professionals that are already working with your top 10 clients. For example, seek partnerships with the CPAs that already work with your best clients. Chances are good they have other clients with similar characteristics.
Let those CPAs know you have a mutual client and you're looking for a highly qualified CPA to refer your other top clients to; if they're interested, set up a meeting and approach the CPA with the opportunity to gain referrals from your practice in exchange for referrals from their practice.

Many advisors have tried forming partnerships, but most haven't had a lot of success with it. The reason this doesn't always work is the responsibility of the actual referring is left to the other professional. Although they may have good intentions, like all of us, they may have the tendency to be forgetful. Having a concrete, turnkey marketing plan is an easy way to get the professional to participate in the referral process without having to make a huge effort. That plan includes a system to advertise a new partnership through avenues such as co-branded newsletters and client appreciation events.

This new method may take some effort at first, but for advisors looking to transform the new business process, professional partnerships are the future and a solution to seminar stalemate.

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