As an Exit Advisor, your business lives and dies off your network — this isn’t a business where leads just fall into your lap. It takes lots of work on the front end to make sure that, when business owners are ready to sell, you’re the one your network thinks of first, and you’re the one they send those owners to.
The thing about a referral network is that it’s always changing. People change jobs, change careers, move across the country — there are many reasons why someone who was a solid referral partner one year might no longer be so solid the next.
All this means that you need to always be on the lookout for new referral partners, people who are going to funnel business owners to you on at least a semi-regular basis.
Here are some things you can do today to grow your referral network and keep it healthy.
Identifying Potential Referral Partners
Identifying high-quality potential referral partners is the first step to building a high-quality network.
“High-quality” means partners that interact with business owners on a regular basis and are open to collaborating with you to help those owners.
But it also means that your referral partner has an understanding of what you do and why you do it. And it’s your job to give your referral partners that education.
For example, they should understand the problems business owners will face when they try to sell their business if they don’t have a partner like you in their corner.
It also helps if they have a feel for how serious business owners are and how willing they are to make any necessary changes to their businesses. If a business owner isn’t willing to change anything and thinks they have it all figured out, it’s probably not worth your time to work with them.
It can be super helpful to build a referral network that is either a) concentrated in an industry or a handful of industries that you want to specialize in or b) is as wide-ranging as possible if you prefer volume over specialization.
Attending Professional Groups (With a Follow-Up Plan)
Different types of professional groups can be valuable in different ways. A professional group for a particular industry can help you connect directly with business owners in that industry, giving you a direct source of leads.
If you form relationships with the people who run the group itself, they can turn into great referral partners.
Other professional groups can be a source of referral partners only, but that can be equally valuable, and in some ways, it can be easier to form the right relationships.
Going to a professional group for dentists might feel a little too much like direct sales, but going to a professional group for marketers where you’re offering your help to their clients feels more like you’re adding value to the group. You’re also not selling to them directly, so you’re likely to have less pushback.
What matters most is that you have a follow-up plan. Getting business cards in people’s hands is great, but you need to get their cards too. Once you have their contact information, you can engage with them directly. If they’re not ready to meet and learn more about the problems you help business owners with you can enter them in a drip campaign to educate them until they are ready to meet. We just happen to offer a wealth of turnkey content to do just this.
Providing Education to Other Service Providers
One of the most valuable things you can provide to other service providers, like attorneys or wealth managers, is education. Helping them to get a better understanding of how exit planning works can make them more valuable referral partners in the long run.
Once they have a deeper understanding of what you do, how you do it, and why, they will be able to better identify potential referrals.
It’s also incredibly helpful to educate other service providers on the fact that exit planning is really a value-building process, a way of making a business best-in-class. This widens their understanding of what a lead really is for you.
They’ll see that they shouldn’t just be looking for people who are ready to exit — they should be looking for anyone who wants to increase revenue, increase efficiency, and, to put it simply, just build a better business.
Plus, the fact that you’re offering education makes you a valuable resource to them. The relationship will feel more balanced, and they’ll be more inclined to take the extra time necessary to send people your way.
It also proves to them that you know what you’re talking about. It will make them more comfortable sending their clients to you. And if you send some clients their way too, it can become an extremely fruitful relationship over time.
The Advisor’s Edge — The Education You (and Your Referral Partners) Need
The Advisor’s Edge is a library of content that you can use to educate potential and existing referral partners on exit planning — and you can use it to educate yourself as well.
Instead of giving every partner an individual presentation, you can send them content that answers their questions and educates them — and all you have to do is send an email.
The Advisor’s Edge includes documents and videos that explain just about every aspect of what Exit Advisors, financial professionals, and other business advisors do in a way that’s clear and highly professional.
The content is extremely high quality and has been created by top professionals in the exit planning industry.
This means your potential referral partners will see you not just as a resource and someone they can trust, but as someone who is a true expert, who really knows what they’re talking about.
You also get access to the Get a Grip program, an invaluable tool for your exit planning team.
Learn more about what The Advisor’s Edge can do for you.