As you can imagine, I go to a lot of networking events and I rarely go to one where there isn't at least one accountant in the room. I listen to their pitch and increasingly they talk about offering more than just doing people's end of year accounts ...
They talk about how they add value by taking people through their management accounts and help them to understand their numbers. They are trying to differentiate themselves from all the other accountants.
Trouble is, they all say the same thing, so which one of them will come to mind when I identify someone who needs an accountant?
The same happens with other professional disciplines like business advisors, coaches, marketers, HR consultants, IT support, website designers and hypnotherapists, to name but a few.
Acting with integrity, it is the one who is best qualified to meet my contacts needs that I will refer as they will have highly developed knowledge, skills and experience for that particular type of issue. They are by far the easiest to refer to.
How do I decide who to refer? What process do I use? I run a filter in my head and I expect you do something pretty similar. Let's return to accountants as the example of my filter method:
- Who are the accountants where I already have a referral relationship? I know I can trust them.
- Who is the best one for this clients needs?
- Is there another accountant I have met who, on first pass, more closely matches this client?
- Am I ready to refer them?
Not mind-bogglingly sophisticated, but then the objective is to make it easy. This all happens quickly and at the moment when I'm talking to the person about their need for an accountant. I might go away to consider, but normally, I seize the moment so they don't go looking elsewhere.
A referral is more powerful when you can say emphatically when asked ''I know xxx who specialises in that'' and then tell a story that demonstrates their expertise.
That means knowing what differentiates each accountant. Let's look at the specialities of different accountants I know who come to mind immediately. They include family business, succession planning, property tax, cash flow/forecasting, engineering, forensic and anti-fraud, start-ups and even 'hand holding'.
My tip for you to work out what is your true speciality and market yourself like that. Ask a few questions of yourself, your clients and referral sources.
- Present clients' needs. What made them choose you?
- Present referral sources perceptions. What made them refer this person to you?
- What do you love doing? What aspect of your work gives you the most pleasure and you're most proud of?
- Gap in the market. Is there an area of knowledge or skill that doesn't seem to be well covered by others?
- Check out your competitors' websites. If you just changed the pictures, name and logo could this be your site? What's different about you?
If you're thinking "I'm an accountant and I know Jacky and she hasn't mentioned my speciality" then maybe it's time we had a one-to-one meeting to bring you to the front of my mind?
If you'd like to learn more about referral marketing then do give me a call on 07970 638857 and let's have a chat and see how I can help you.