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Attract Higher-Level Clients with Referrals

As you move higher up the ladder of affluence (high net worth and high income), your referral strategies must become a bit more sophisticated.  Here are a few ideas to help you reach these types of people.


Strengthen Your Centers of Influence

One of the best ways to meet affluent individuals is through Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Okay, you already knew this. My question to you is, “How many and how strong are your CPA alliances, and are they referring to you a steady stream of highly qualified clients?”

I’ve worked with one agent in Maine (a top 5 producer in his company) who has 30 CPAs feeding him one high net worth individual after another.  I think you want to have at least 10 to 12 strong centers of influence, at least two to four of whom should be CPAs.

Here are a few tips to help you meet CPAs and strengthen these relationships:

1.  Have an ideal client profile. Be very clear on the types of people you serve the best and who serve your practice the best (hold back telling this to CPAs until step number five).

2.  CPAs don’t like salespeople. Don’t act like a salesperson. Don’t be there to sell them or their clients anything; just be there to serve through long-term relationships.

3.  Meet CPAs through the work you’re doing with their clients (your clients). This is the way they would prefer to meet you. Come in at a higher level of trust—a referral.

4.  Bring them in on the work sooner, not later. Try to do an “end run” around them and they’ll kill the deal so fast your head will swim. After any work is done, send them a summary letter for their records (you must get written permission from your client to do this).

5.  Make sure your competence shows. Tell CPAs stories of how you’ve helped your clients. Make your business and your knowledge come to life for them in a way that demonstrates how much you care about doing what’s best for your clients.

6.  Now, it’s time to suggest a meeting, perhaps over breakfast or lunch.

7.  See if there’s good chemistry and see how you can help the CPA serve their clients better.

8.  These relationships take time to develop; don’t be in a hurry. It’s like dating: Don’t go too far too soon!

9.  Feed CPAs information, educate them and become a trusted resource.  Do pro bono work for them. Don’t worry—they’ll pay you back with high-quality referrals.

10.  Give them well-qualified, pre-sold referrals as often as you can. Attend the first meeting between the CPA and the client you’re referring to them, if appropriate.


Stand Out from the Crowd

Here are four ideas you can use to distance yourself from your competition.

1.  Ask your current affluent clients for referrals to people like themselves.  Have your client profile handy and share it with them—in writing.

2.  Send your affluent prospects something of value before you call them to ask for an appointment. (You can also do this right after you set the appointment, but before you meet, to reduce no-shows and reschedules). It can be a book on building or keeping wealth, or an item related to a special interest of theirs that you learn about through your referral source.

3.  Write and self-publish a white paper, report or small booklet that establishes your expertise and credibility. In this booklet, include stories and examples of people you’ve helped (you can change the name). It must be compliance-friendly, of course.

4.  Get involved in charity and community service work. Serve the cause of a successful person, and he or she will return the favor tenfold or more.

These are a few ideas you can use to attract a higher level of client.  Remember, affluent individuals put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you.  As long as you are competent and confident in the work you do, you need not be intimidated by them.

About Bill Cates

Bill Cates
Bill Cates is the President of Referral Coach International.  His trademarked Referral Advantage™ Program has been featured in such publications as Success Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Selling Power and Research Magazine, and his own business success has been featured in Money Magazine. Bill is a regular contributing editor for many financial services publications. Visit his Web site at Bill Cates, author of “Get More Referrals Now!” and “Don’t Keep Me a Secret!” is offering you a free copy of his report “7 Deadly Referral Mistakes” as well as a subscription to his free referral newsletter with 30,000+ subscribers. (What do they know that you don’t?)  Go to  To contact Bill, send him an email at or call (301) 497-2200.

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