If you have not had a successful referring alliance partnership in a while, you may be asking yourself what you are doing wrong. It could be, in fact, that it is not you. Yes, you may not be responsible for this lack of success entirely. Often times, it is what the other person or company is or isn’t doing.
When proposed business alliances don’t produce mutual referrals, it is disappointing and frustrating. However, in the research we have done on cases of successful and not-so-successful alliances, it seems to come down to a few clear reasons for failure. So before we throw in the towel on referring relationships with other professionals, it may be worthwhile to address these keys to failure.
If your strategic alliance partnerships are not working, it is almost always because of one of the following 3 reasons:
1) The Wrong Professional: You may be attempting to have a referring alliance with the wrong professional. Some people do not have the propensity to refer their clients to other professionals. They are slow to trust, or are sole-focused on their own deliverable. This alliance will likely never work. Just because a professional has a client base of people that are a fit for what you do and need your services, does not mean that the professional will be proactive in sharing you with those clients. It is time to take these people off your list and find others.
2) The Wrong Message: If you have not clearly shared and described what you do and why you are unique with your potential alliance, they may never have a reason to mention you to someone else. A general description of all you do may not be memorable enough. You not only need to quickly build credibility, establish areas of specialty, and show that you have expertise that their clients need. But moreover, you need to sound unique and stand out in a clear and compelling way. Your potential strategic alliance should be able to say, sometime during your meeting, “You know, I have a client who really needs to talk to you.” The description of what you do and what is unique about what your firm does needs to stand out.
3) The Wrong Firm: Research shows that more than ever, alliance referrals come from firms that are themselves actively seeking new clients. When a firm is a stagnant mature firm (albeit a successful one) they are not necessarily creating new relationships and meeting with prospects and taking on new clients. When a firm is in the growth mode, they are meeting with new clients and are more likely to have many things to share with them, including referrals. When a firm has had a client for the past 20 years, why now would a referral to a financial advisor be made? Find a firm that is focused on finding new clients because they often have immediate opportunities to ask about other professionals and make referrals to you. Find growing companies who will become great alliances.
Ultimately, give yourself a chance for success by finding the right people, the right message for them, and the right firms to work with. It may take just some small changes, the willingness to walk away from unproductive relationships, and a little bit of time to craft the best words to use. It will make for highly profitable win-win relationships.