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Summer Series: How to create the perfect partnership

Referral relationships are the key to your success in business - so what's the best way to establish a commercial partnership?  We speak to Fiona Mackenzie of Macquarie Practice Consulting for her advice on developing referral relationships.

Video transcript below:

Australian Broker TV
ABT:
 As you prepare for a successful 2013, it is important to put some energy to where the majority of your business is likely to come from.  Fiona Mackenzie of Macquarie Practice Consulting says research continues to show that referrals trump all other forms of business leads.  

Fiona Mackenzie, Macquarie Practice Consulting
Fiona Mackenzie:  Well in terms of attracting new clients, our bench marking research has been consistent over the last 5 years in showing that it’s really referrals from existing clients and accountants that are the key sources of new business.  So if you think about it from a client’s perspective, they realise that it’s difficult to make that decision, difficult to assess who to go to, so they look to people that they trust, people such as family and friends and accountants and the likes in order to assess who they should go to.  
 
ABT:  Establishing a successful referral relationship takes a bit of work.  Here are some tips to get you on the right path.
 
Fiona Mackenzie:  In terms of the relationship, in terms of building a relationship with somebody who will refer to you, there is a few key things to get right.  The first thing is to make sure there is a good fit between your businesses.  So making sure that they have got a similar client base, they have similar levels of service and that the product mix is complementary.  The second thing is to make sure that you are both equally committed to the relationship and making it work, because it takes time and energy to make it work over time.  And the third thing is really, in terms of making it commercial.  So being clear what constitutes a lead, what does it look like, how many are you expecting, how will you report back on those things.  And so working through those things over time is really important to make those referral relationships work, which ultimately brings new clients, new business. 
 
ABT:  Referral relationships are an ongoing commitment, here is how to ensure the partnership is mutually beneficial.
 
Fiona Mackenzie:  In these turbulent times I guess the key mistakes that we are finding is first in not spending time nurturing referral relationships.  So taking a set and forget approach really doesn’t work.  Your referral relationships are going to want to know what your position is and they really need to see you taking leadership in that and showing your confidence in terms of what you do with clients, how you are seeing things working out for them.  So that’s really key.  The second thing is to take some time out and not get bogged down on a day to day, but to actually spend time working on your business.  Because with so much change in the environment, what may have been the secret to your success in the past, may well not be the formula for success going forward.  So really important to be reviewing all the pieces about what you offer your clients, what they value, how you put that together, your pricing, all those pieces takes time and energy but is really important to get that right.