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How do I generate internal referrals for our business advisory services?


Is generating quality referrals from others in your firm for business advisory service opportunities a struggle? If yes read on for ten ways to generate more referrals from fellow partners and managers.
1. Ensure you have capacity to say ‘yes’ to the right opportunities.
Often a firm’s Achilles’ heel is they’re (understandably) busy and spread too thin as they grapple with current market challenges of high demand, staff retention and recruitment. Referring more work internally seems pointless as they assume others are at capacity too.
2. Make your business advisory model crystal clear.
A few high level paragraphs on a brochure or webpage is not enough clarity for internal referrals or external prospective clients to know what you do and how you do it. Ensure you have:
  • clear, value-priced packages with detailed bullet points of the features and benefits of each,
  • tiers of intensity as to how you support clients,
  • explainer videos,
  • defined target customers,
  • case studies and proof of capability materials.
All these promotional elements are critical to provide the information required for informed referrals.
3. Put your business advisory model on your website.
As soon as you have clarity on your business advisory offering ensure it is clearly communicated on your firm’s website with a strong call to action as to how interested parties can engage with you. While this is great for prospective clients it’s also important as a central place for internal team members to point prospective customers to for ease of referral.
4. Share your success.
Have you had a few recent client wins and success stories delivering business advisory service lines? Ensure these are shared through LinkedIn, internal communication channels (Slack, email, Teams etc.) and regular team catch ups. Share what’s worked and the positive impact you made with clients as a result of your great work in internal forums so the wider team know you can deliver great outcomes and you are ‘front of mind’.
5. Are you demonstrating high capability?
Demonstrate your capability to deliver great outcomes in business advisory through regular client case studies, offering to run internal problem solving or strategic planning sessions, delivering information webinars or inviting team members to group training sessions with clients. To build trust and confidence in your ability internal team members or peers need to see you in action. A static brochure or promotional page on a website isn’t enough.
6. Communicate your desired targets.
Many advisors unknowingly give off the impression they are at capacity and have no free time meaning when they ask for referrals the team’s concerned whether you can deliver in a timely fashion. Ensure you communicate specifically the number and type of clients you seek through internal sources. For example, explicitly state you have capacity for three or four quality strategic planning and implementation engagements and eight business health checks by the end of the year.
7. Use role playing.
To help team members spot the right referral opportunities why not run internal role plays? Give the team member a scenario to work through with a ‘client’ with the intent to refer a business advisory service. Guide them on the questions to ask and triggers to look for to refer the client to the business advisory team or internal champion. These can be fun!
8. Deliver lunch and learns.
Why not deliver a business advisory tool, model or market insight during an optional lunch and learn session with the team? Train them over a 45 minute lunch break in a business tool or discuss a key market insight you often discuss with clients such as change or agility so they have greater awareness of what you do. You could also coach them in business advisory skills to be better problem solvers, not sales people.
9. Accountability loops for referrals.
Have a monthly or quarterly review with key team members where all have a clear target of referrals and are actively followed up on those goals. Make this an agenda item in regular internal catchups.
10. Strong leadership support.
A firm’s leadership team needs to have business advisory as a clearly articulated element of their future vision. Provide leaders with insight papers (Mindshop’s roadmaps to success for example) or invite them to events (again run regularly by Mindshop) on where business advisory fits in building the problem solving skillset of the modern accountant. These events could also cover best practice in development and integration of business advisory service lines into more traditional offerings at a level suitable to the vision of the firm and their target clients. Ensure leaders support the education, learning and investment required to build business advisory success and encourage internal referrals.
I trust a few of these ten insights will help you generate more internal referrals. Any questions please speak to a Mindshop Regional Director.

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