When was the last time you sat down with a CPA in your referral network? Probably not in the last few weeks. As an advisor, you are likely to be busier than usual this time of year, but it’s nothing compared to the CPAs in your network who, at the mercy of their clients’ timelines, are slaving over financial documents and tax statements, hammering to meet deadlines imposed by the IRS.
So what does this mean for your relationships with these CPAs? Perhaps those lunches you’ve consistently had on a quarterly or monthly basis since last spring are suddenly on hold. What do you do? Sit back and watch the appointments drop from your calendar? Absolutely not! At ClientWise, connecting with your Professional Advocates ™ and Loyal Client Advocates™ is an all season sport; you just have to be a little creative in how you play. Much like going “indoors” for the winter, consider these creative ways to work with your centers of influence, even at their busiest time of year.
Make a cheat sheet: This is an insane time of year for CPAs because they are interacting with so many clients, all with fast approaching deadlines. Obviously it’s a great time of year for you to be “on their minds” but how do you get your CPAs to think of you when they are just trying to toil through their own jobs? They sift through so much paperwork and listen to so many client cases this time of year, that they might not see how you can help. Why not make it clear by outlining the scenarios in which they should consider sending clients your way? In addition to the obvious instances of opening retirement accounts or forming relationships with clients who don’t already have financial advisors, what are the ways you can provide guidance?
Treat them to lunch at their offices: CPAs don’t have time to get out of the office for lunch. They might not even have time to pick up the phone to order delivery. How about providing some relief and levity by bringing over a few large pizzas and a salad for everyone in the office? While you’re at it, invite them to an “end of tax season” celebration so they have something to look forward to, a light at the end of the tunnel. This is a great time to bring by that “cheat sheet” you created, just make sure you don’t take up too much of their time by explaining it. Your purpose is to provide relief, not further work, so do as much of the heavy explanation for them.
You can’t complete their clients’ taxes, but where can you help?:
Perhaps these CPAs share networking groups or educational circles in common with you. Do you have the ability to stand in for them in any capacity that isn’t strictly regulated to CPAs? Perhaps it’s in an instance that can be great exposure for you too. Offer to provide their clients with complimentary education about ways to save money on their taxes. This can be a relief to CPAs who start to sound (and feel) like broken records this time of year. The goal is to step in and provide relief in whatever capacity you can; anything you gain from it is just icing on the cake. All your efforts now will likely pay-off in the form of referrals down the line.
Think about your Centers of Influence beyond CPAs: Try using this as an opportunity to brainstorm about other professionals with whom you can network. What do the clients in your book suggest about where to look for introductions? If you happen to work with a lot of divorcees, consider the partnerships you’d potentially create by inviting the therapists or divorce mediators in your area out to lunch. If you work with the owners of smaller retail shops, maybe you would benefit from networking with credit card processing companies or other merchant services organizations. Sometimes differ deeper to discover those centers of influence who aren’t “top of mind” is incredibly valuable because it means that other advisors probably haven’t considered them either.
Powerful Coaching Questions from This Article:
- Do your relationships with your centers of influence reflect a true advocate relationship that is mutually beneficial, with a give and take mentality?
- How are you creatively considering how to help your centers of influence even when their schedules don’t allow them to be in front of you or provide help to you in return?
- Are you thinking outside the box when it comes to connecting with centers of influence?
- Are you taking the time to educate your centers of influence?