by Tony Vidler
An effective method of generating interest with influencers in referring some of their clients to you is appealing to their self interest.
It sounds terribly crass when it is said out aloud like that of course, but let’s cut to the chase. Every professional out there makes a living from keeping clients engaged and continuing to work with them, and to keep paying them fees. If they cannot do that then they are perpetually hustling or hunting for replacement clients. Pretty much no professional likes doing that.
Ergo! It is in each professionals interest to help keep their clients happy, engaged and paying for as long as possible. Not exactly rocket science in that statement, however the emphasis in recent years upon removing conflicts of interest and raising ethical standards and putting the clients interests first have led to a mindset in professional services which is just wrong. And dumb.
That mindset could be summarised as “we must ignore what is good for us as that could be construed as not being good for the client“.
Actually, we must be mindful of what is good for us commercially. I will be the first to argue that the clients interests come first, and that every professional must be delivering specific value to every client in every engagement. That does not however negate the need for every professional to also be deriving value from clients in return. So the professional’s “self interest” does actually matter, and there is nothing wrong in my view in taking that into account when making commercial decisions – such as partnering with another professional who can potentially be a centre-of-influence.
So here is the simple question which triggers the self interest conversation with potential COI’s:
It is unlikely that all of the top 10 clients of any professional will “go out of business” in the short term of course, but it is a question which generates some immediate focus I assure you. The reality for nearly every professional is that a fair proportion of their top 10 clients could “fall over” in the short to medium term though. They could go out of business, but then they could still be in business but with dire circumstances. A be a death or disability or serious illness of a key decision maker, or some new business risks (litigation, new technology, exchange rates, etc, etc) which could jeopardise the clients ability to continue working with the influencer, are just some examples of what can make the account fall over even if client doesn’t.
The point is there are any number of reasons why a great client account could fall over. A great professional will try and figure out ways to help their clients by catching them if things do fall over, if not beforehand.
This of course is the cue for one of the greatest reasons why professionals from different disciplines can and should work more closely together with clients: each brings different risk management skills or technical expertise which can help makes the clients business or plans more likely to succeed.
If the client succeeds, then that is good for all of us – especially the client.
Some professional self-interest is not necessarily something which is bad for a client automatically.
Protecting the client by introducing lawyers into the equation who you know have the skill set to isolate risk or ensure continuity through good contract and structures is a very smart move. Similarly, introducing accountants who have the deeper analytical skill mixed with wider commercial experience to identify commercial risks and opportunities and introduce efficiencies into a client’s life or business is an excellent thing. Ditto with bringing in a risk management specialist, or introducing a financial adviser with loan construction and sourcing expertise, or one who is able to construct a portfolio which provides a level of capital or income certainty outside of the client’s own earnings ability….
The point is that many professionals have a key part in helping any given client to succeed – or at least “not fall over”. Every professional only has some of the skills, knowledge and expertise. Every professional should be looking after their client by making sure other excellent professionals are handling those aspects which they themselves cannot.
It is in the interest of each professional to safeguard the client, and the clients future business with them, by working together closely with other professionals.
Have that conversation with potential influencers….it will open up some thinking and some new possibilities.