Be kind to your referral partners

Engaging with clients is one thing, but financial planners need to engage with and understand their referral partners if they want to grow their businesses.

According to Effective Referral Management director David Phelan, planners have traditionally been too focused on receiving referrals and have failed to take a deep interest in their referral partners.

Accountants often feel planners are dying to get at their client base rather than attempting to help each professional grow their business, said Phelan.

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Phelan's company is one of the partners in the Client and Referral Partner Engagement Forum which will be held in Sydney later this month. The other two partners are client relationship management business CRMNow and psychological profiling consulting firm Prova.

According to Prova director Debra McQuinn, accountants and financial planners often have very different behavioural styles - and if the planner is unaware of the difference, they run the risk of turning their referral partner off.

When a planner enters any business interaction - whether it is with a client or a referral partner - they must engage with the other person immediately, said McQuinn.

Unfortunately for planners, there is a mismatch between the psychological profile of planners and their clients - with only 10 per cent of the client population having a similar profile to their adviser, she said.

This means that advisers need to understand the behavioural characteristics of their prospective clients before the initial meeting, so they know how to interact with them, McQuinn said.

"It's not a segmentation issue, it's an 'understanding' approach. And different types of clients require a different approach," McQuinn said.

At the moment, planners are engaging with 25 per cent of their clients and "disconnecting" (or disenfranchising) the remaining 75 per cent, said McQuinn.

The technology provided by CRMNow incorporates the intellectual property of Prova, and allows advisers to send prospective clients a short questionnaire which later guides the adviser in the initial meeting, according to CRMNow director, marketing solutions Derek Bell.

The adviser doesn't have to be a psychologist to understand the output of the CRMNow technology, according to Bell - it simply provides the adviser with four or five bullet points about how to interact with the client.

The technology can also be used with referral partners in order to guide the initial interaction, Bell said.

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