As I explained in this month’s article, Tax Season presents a prime opportunity to identify all of the other advisors used by your clients and then build relationships with them throughout the year. There are two main benefits of doing this.
First, you create a network or advisory relationships in order to provide the best service – and, hence, the greatest value – to your client. A heads-up from another advisor or an opportunity to cooperate with another advisor on solutions to a client issue is only possible if there is some kind of relationship.
Second, your relationships with these advisors enable you to build strong centers of influence (a center of influence is a person or group of people who know you and your work and send clients to you consistently because they know you can help the client), which also become referral sources. The chances are excellent that someone who advises one of your top clients also advises other people who are similar to this important client.
Maximizing your contact with key clients in order to identify other important advisors should probably be a firm-wide effort to build beneficial relationships. Working together, the professionals in your firm should identify other advisory functions it is important to know about in order to best serve your client. For example, there is little opportunity from the client’s primary care physician or dentist. There is value, however, in knowing several other advisors, including:
- Stock/investment broker
- Real estate broker
- Financial Advisor
- Insurance Agent
- Business Advisor
You might think of other advisors with whom it makes sense to cooperate on behalf of your mutual clients. In addition, particularly for technical partners and you nger members of your firm, building relationships with other centers of influence enables you to make valuable referrals and puts you in a position to receive referral business.
Once you have identified the advisors you would like to identify, create an internal form for gathering and recording information. Then, identify the clients from whom you want to gather this information. For example, each member of the firm might make a commitment to gather this information from his or her top 10 clients. Alternatively, the firm might decide it is strategically important to gather information from clients who use a particular service provided by your firm.
The form and a commitment to gather the information becomes part of the tax preparation process. You will likely discover that the names and contact information of some of these advisors are available to you in the receipts or payment records provided by the client. When you meet with the client, simply explain the benefits to the client of relationships between his or her advisors and ask for the information.
The form can then be filed for action after tax season. The follow-up step beginning in May is critical. The information is useless until you take action to cultivate relationships. My suggestion when using tax season to identify your clients’ other centers of influence, is that you take the time in January to schedule time into your calendar in May for the follow-up activities.