Referral alliances

When You Send a COI Referral, Do This…

By Stephen Boswell & Kevin Nichols | @stephenboswell | @kevinanichols

In order for referral alliances to work, there must be a two-way street of referral flow. Reciprocity is the foundation of the relationship. With that in mind, how are you finding opportunities for your referral alliance partners?

Are you looking for clients who don’t have estate plans? Are you asking about their relationship with their CPA? You want the CPAs and attorneys in your network to see you as a true advocate.

The sheer quantity of referrals you send makes an impact, but the way you send them matters as well. Consider the traditional approach — the advisor spots an opportunity with a client who needs an estate plan, then recommends that the client call an estate attorney. The client may or may not call and the advisor has little contact with the attorney.

We think there’s a better way. The right approach ensures the connection takes place, makes the client feel comfortable (they don’t know this professional), and creates meaningful contacts between you and your alliance partner. Next time you have a referral to send, take this five-step approach instead:

  1. Call your referral alliance to tell them about your client who needs their help.
  2. Email the referral alliance with notes and next steps. Many of your professional partners are detail-minded and appreciate your notes in helping them get off to a great start with their new client.
  3. Escort your client to the first meeting with this referral alliance. This is a no-brainer; you’re getting face time with a top client and a referral alliance in one sitting.
  4. Send a thank you note for their professionalism. Yes, you sent the referral, they should be thanking you, but we’re looking to build a meaningful relationship here.
  5. Check in with the referral alliance when the work is complete. How did it go?

Why go through all this effort? Perception. You’ve created five touch points with this COI (including one face-to-face) instead of the one you’d have with the traditional “call this person” approach. Over the course of a year, this adds up and creates the perception that you refer even more than you actually do.

If you’d like to learn more about best practices with COIs, you should subscribe to our Course Library.

One thought on “When You Send a COI Referral, Do This…

  1. David F. Sterling says:

    Re: Referral Protocol – A Few Thoughts for the Legal Community

    1. Find out whether or not your client has an attorney and if so something about the “nature” of the relationship (open-ended).
    2. Whether yes or no, inquire whether or not your client is comfortable with referencing his, her or their names when making contact and sharing information. (It helps if the client can be assured that there will not be a fee for an initial consultation, but, if so, the amount and time element. NOTE. The savvy use of what I call the “hypothetical” referral memo can work wonders where initial privacy considerations could be and should be a concern.
    3. Do not assume that you can or should escort the client to the first meeting. This can be very awkward for the attorney and client, as “confidentiality protections” can break down with the presence of third (outside) parties. Attorneys will really appreciate your advance thinking on this consideration and your acknowledgement that discussions could enter terrain when the attorney might be inclined to have you step outside of the meeting room for a moment.

    Finally, there are protocols that can dramatically enhance your status as the “steward” of your client’s well being and your image before the referral alliance; both while staying our of harm’s way.

    David F. Sterling, Esq.,

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