How To Help Clients Find That Good Professional

Everyone loves referrals. Isn’t it great when someone walks in and says: “I want to do business?” Sometimes the shoe is on the other foot. A client will say: “I have a problem and I need a (profession). Any ideas?” What now?

Here are several ways you could approach helping your client:

  1. Is it a function provided in-house by your firm? This is how private banking works. It’s been said you get a new relationship, build a wall around it and sig a moat around the wall. Put another way, your investment client might say: “I am wondering if I should refinance my mortgage.” You firm does mortgages on the banking side. You explain you can make an introduction to your i- house specialist.

  2. They need an outside professional. Your client needs a lawyer. You do investment, not law. You ask a few questions to determine the area of their need. It might be tax law or estate planning. You have worked with several. Hand over three business cards. Suggest they call each, interview them and make a choice. By giving your client the opportunity to make the choice, it avoids the perception you send all this business to your brother-in-law. This can look bad if something blows up.

  3. Phone a friend. You do not know the right professional, but you are thinking “I know a guy who knows a guy…” This friend knows everyone. Perhaps you could act as the intermediary, phone your well connected friend and see who they recommend.

  4. They want a referral, you know no one. Recently I wrote an article, “Why Everyone Needs a Good Accountant.” (1) A reader wrote back and posted the question, “How do you find one?” His solution was to direct the person to the state CPA society’s website. They should have a searchable database, which likely includes advanced search criteria, if they have a unique need.

  5. Tap into their circle of friends. Your client identified a need and asked for a referral. You might not be able to provide one, but they have other friends. Suggest they ask several friends who they have used and if they were satisfied. User generated reviews make sites like Tripadvisor very popular. People feel a referral from someone with firsthand experience has value. Suggest they ask around.

  6. Avoiding the wrong person. Your client might have someone in mind, asking you “What do you know about this woman?” Professions often have disciplinary databases you can search. Within your field, FINRA has “BrokerCheck.” (2) It is logical other industries have the simar functionality. They can check them out for possible negative information.

  7. Awards won. People often want to do business with “the best.” Many industries build lists of the top 25, 50 or 100 practitioners in states or major cities. Logically, there is some Compliance checking done too. In the financial services industry, Barrons produces it’s annual list of 1,200 top advisors organized by state. (3) If your city has a Business Journal, they usually produce an annual “Book of Lists” containing the 25 or so largest firms across about 50 categories. (4)

  8. Reader’s Choice Awards. Your local newspaper probably runs an annual competition where readers nominate businesses across categories. Our local newspaper has 350 categories and received 1,600 business nominations, as I recall. Readers vote online over several weeks. This might be a popularity contest, but the names might be familiar.

Ideally your firm can provide the service they need. If not, you may have firsthand experience with professionals who fit the need. If you cannot help in either area, there are other ways they can find the right person.





Related: 15 Ways To Start Conversations at Holiday Parties