How can lawyers and accountants collaborate more effectively with contacts and referrers?

Lawyers and accountants are very focused on referrals.  While referrals are always of course welcome, there are other ways to create new opportunities if lawyers and accountants collaborate more effectively with their contacts and referrers.

It is simply not always possible to exchange referrals. 

As well as creating new opportunities, collaborating more effectively with contacts and referrers will also allow you to find more ways to add value to and strengthen your most important professional relationships during the times when there are no referrals to give.

Why should lawyers and accountants collaborate more effectively with contacts and referrers?

You may have heard the maxim 1+1=3.  With focus and follow up this is particularly true in the case of business collaborations. Lawyers and accountants can benefit from finding business partners who are targeting similar types of clients.

Here are 5 benefits of collaborating with likeminded contacts:

1. You will save time

The hassle factor of organising events can be halved as responsibilities are shared.

2. You will save money

The cost of events, targeting campaigns, pitching, and marketing activities can also be shared.

3. You will extend your reach and build awareness to a larger audience

You can pool databases and double your respective reach and access targets and start conversations you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

4. You will strengthen your brand

Partnering with a well-regarded or well-known brand will strengthen your brand offer by association. Perhaps you will be able to piggyback a bigger brand as your clients and targets will see your partnership as an endorsement or accreditation.

5. You will increase your market knowledge and understanding

You don’t know what you don’t know.  By having more interactions with your professional network, you will learn professional gossip, be able to benchmark experiences and have a personal sounding board to explore new ideas.

What opportunities are there in addition to referring new business to your professional contacts?

Referring business is certainly a good tactic but it’s not always possible.

If you are a junior lawyer or accountant, your contacts will often not be decision makers and therefore referral possibilities limited.  Alternatively, you may be more experienced, but your referral opportunities will still be limited to a small number of people in your network.

Here are 5 alternative ways to add value and strengthen ties with your professional network:

1. Make introductions

Introductions are much easier to make than referrals as they don’t hinge on an immediate business opportunity.  

Find out who would be attractive contacts for people in your network and actively look out for opportunities to make connections from within your existing network.

2. Contribute content to your contacts’ marketing activities

All your contacts will have one or more of the following:

A website

A seminar/webinar/training programme

A podcast

A client newsletter

All these vehicles need content.

Content takes time to create. You can make your contacts’ job easier and add weight to their content by contributing pieces that bring together your experience, case studies and expertise.

3. Offer yourself as a sounding board

The strongest professional relationships are based on more than your technical knowledge.  In these cases, contacts will see you as a confidante or trusted adviser.  Make it easy for your contacts to pick your brain by being accessible (in person and remotely).

4. Invite your contacts to business and social events

More interaction means more opportunities.  It allows trust to be established.  

Invite your contacts to any events – business or social – you feel would suit them in terms of their professional or personal interests.

5. Share market intelligence

If you see a report, article, or news item that you think will be of interest to others in your network, share it.  Sharing market intelligence demonstrates that you have your ‘finger on the pulse’ and are looking out for those you know, like and trust.

How do lawyers and accountants collaborate more effectively with contacts to improve the results their BD achieves?

Just like personal relationships business relationships that have longevity have the following characteristics:

– They are based on reciprocity.  Both parties must contribute something (but that something doesn’t have to be referrals).

– There is regular contact.  Long gaps in time without contact can impact negatively on intimacy and understanding.

– It’s not all about you!  People want to feel valued and listened to, not just an accessory to suit your agenda.

– There is positive energy.  No one wants to be in the company of someone who drains their energy and positivity.

– Communications are personal. There is a difference between a business contact and a business relationship.

Who are the best professional contacts to ask about collaboration opportunities?

Anyone … potentially at least.

Too many lawyers and accountants only explore opportunities with each other.  If you look wider to financial advisers, bankers, mortgage brokers, and surveyors the possibilities are much greater. 

To identify the right partners, you should consider these 3 things:

1. Who can give you access and/or make you more visible to your target clients?

2. Who do you get on with best and/or you feel most comfortable with?

3. Who can get you involved with activities and platforms that will connect you with your targets?

If you’d like to discuss how you can get the most out of your key business relationships, please get in touch today and we can arrange your first free BD consultation.

Published by sizetenandahalfboots

Douglas is a director of Size 10½ Boots, a specialist business development agency that works solely with the professional services, helping firms grow by winning more new clients and more work from the clients they already have. Although every project is different our work generally falls into one of three camps - strategic marketing support, BD training and 1on1 coaching and independent client research.

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