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Why building quality relationship is good for your business

Hello, it’s Scott Trevethan here from Scott Partners. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing James McCracken, founder of The Successful Adviser. In this interview, we discover that having a better quality of relationship with your client, friend, family member or referral partner can create mutual trust and mutual value for each other. This means that you don’t need to necessarily be incentivized in order to create connections or introductions for each other but you want to help the person because of the respect or appreciation or value and trust one gained out of that relationship.

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SCOTT: Welcome to the Small Business Heroes show, where we talk about everything to help your small business grow and prosper. I’m your host, Scott Trevethan, and today I’m talking to James McCracken.

Now, James is the founder of The Successful Adviser and teaches finance professionals a structured process for generating more leads and clients without paying kickbacks to referral partners. James has worked for a range of small, medium, and national finance groups and associations to help advisors accelerate their growth and be positioned as the only logical choice in the eyes of their clients.

James McCracken, welcome to the Small Business Heroes show.

JAMES: Top of the morning to you, Scott. Thank you for having me on the show. It’s a pleasure to be here.

SCOTT: Great. Thanks, James. James, I’ve just told the audience a little bit about yourself and what you do, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more in detail about what it is, actually, that you do?

JAMES: Yeah, sure. Thanks for having me on the show once again. Really, the essence of what I do is help improve the quality of the enjoyment, the success, the relationships that my clients have with their clients, and as a consequence of that, they’re positioned, as you just said, as the preeminent or only logical choice in the mind’s eye of their client and also their future clients, in addition to which, their referral partners.

So the better the quality of the relationship where you can create mutual trust and mutual value for each other, it means that you don’t need to necessarily be incentivized just based around a monetary exchange in order to create connections or introductions for each other. You actually do it because you want to help the person. You want to help the person that might be your client or your friend or your family member, and you want to do it because you have respect or appreciation or value and trust with the other advisor.

So when you can create those synergies and those relationships, clearly you’re going to run a more profitable business, you’re going to run a much more successful business, and in my opinion, you’re going to run a business where you enjoy what you do even more because you’re able to make more of an impact to the people that you enjoy serving.

SCOTT: Which is just a beautiful notion. To our Small Business Heroes advisors listening to this, what are they doing wrong? What’s a typical advisor do wrong in relation to, say, servicing their existing clients?

JAMES: Well, that’s an interesting question. I would not presume that they’re wrong as much as, if you don’t mind me saying this, where there are some areas or opportunities that they could do things perhaps a little bit differently or better.

SCOTT: I like the spin. [laughs]

JAMES: Yeah, it is. I’ve been in politics. [laughs] No, but maybe I should be.

SCOTT: Maybe you should just ignore my questions and answer your own. [laughs]

JAMES: Or that. Sometimes they’re highly transactional in value, right? Meaning that it’s like some people look at their clients like a checkout or the number in the deli at Kohl’s. And clients feel that. I’ve seen advisors quite literally call their clients a file. So when you’re saying to your client, “I’m going to process your file and we’ll let you know when it’s all done,” what the client hears is, “Oh, so I’m a file.” As opposed to saying something like, “We’re going to work with you and hold your hand through this process and take care of everything on your behalf, and just make this a really smooth, easy ride so that we get you all the way through to settlement.” So sometimes the language can make a significant difference in terms of the experience a customer has with you or the client has with you.

Sometimes people, they’ll go out there and have an amazing coffee chat with another person. You get like a house on fire, you love the conversation, you feel like this is absolutely brilliant, and you might even hand over a couple of leads or a couple of introductions from your database as a way to kick-start the relationship – and then nothing ever happens in exchange. You sit there scratching your head, thinking, “Hang on. I did something for you, but you’re not doing something for me.”

That’s often the case. I hear that happen all the time, and part of the reason it doesn’t happen is because the parameters weren’t set to start with around what a really great relationship with that referral partner looks like, whether in fact they can really commit to the relationship, or whether they’ve got the time to, and in fact, also understanding how they can best connect or introduce you into their networks.

And if you haven’t gone from – you might’ve established trust to start with, and all of a sudden you’re trying to jump into the proverbial or metaphorical bed together, but you haven’t educated each other. That process in the middle around taking the time to get to know each other and how you can create and position each other in your respective networks makes a significant difference. And that part’s often forgotten, or in fact, probably not even forgotten – most people don’t know to do it. So therefore they obviously lose opportunities.

Even when they sometimes do that, there’s not enough frequency of contact or communicate – be that with their clients or be that with their referral partners. If you’re only speaking to someone every 6 months or every 8 months or every 9 months, then it’s no wonder you’re not going to generate as many referrals. So not having that structure in place impacts people for the worse.

And similarly, when people feel like they’re a transaction as opposed to feel like you’ve genuinely got their best interests at heart, then they might get through the deal okay, but they’re not necessarily as inclined to go out there and want to tell the world about how good you are and why they should happily and willingly introduce and connect other people through to you. So that’s some of my observations around opportunities or areas where it can be done a little bit differently.

SCOTT: That’s great advice. James, as an accountant, we’ve dealt with many mortgage brokers and finance brokers over the journey. One of the things that – in your intro, we talk about getting referral from people like ourselves, from the accountants to the brokers, without exchange of a fee involved. And that’s certainly our philosophy, but often the brokers will say to us, “Well, we need to get work from many accounts, so there’s no way that we can ever refer your work back because then we’d have to refer work to them as well, and there’s just not enough to go around.” How does that situation work?

JAMES: Yeah, sure. I reckon there’s two ways to look at this. There’s what you might call your inner sanctum or your high-quality referral partners; they’re people that you should almost be like the extension of their sales team, be that the broker for the accountant and the accountant for the broker. So in that regard, I think that if those two people were to create that really high-quality, cohesive relationship with each other, and they’re able to create connections and introductions on a regular, ongoing basis, then there shouldn’t be a need to be incentivized by a remuneration. The value comes through the mutual exchange of introductions from each other, to each other.

The next level out from that might be that you do have some people whom you remunerate because it’s a one-way thing. If the leads are only going one way, then there needs to be some type of compensation in return, be that a monetary exchange or be that some other type of compensation. The broker, for example, may not necessarily be giving you direct qualified clients per se, but they may be able to open doors for you in other avenues where you get access to networks and exposure that you might not have otherwise had. And sometimes that can be equally if not more valuable than having just one client.

I’m a big believer in having some core professionals around you so that you’re not competing with each other, but you’re collaborating and you’re adding value. And I actually think that if a lot of professionals had no more than six of the complementary professionals around them, where they collectively were aligned to each other in terms of support and mutual value, then if you did that really, really well and you were consistent with it and you had the right structure, there’s every chance that you probably wouldn’t need too many other avenues in order to generate consistency and opportunity to grow a successful practice.

SCOTT: I sincerely believe that. I guess there’s some advisors out there that would think, “I’ve got to cast my net wide to get as many referrals as I possibly can to fill my sales pipe.” But what you’re really saying is that the quality of the relationships will generate more referrals from a lot more narrowly-cast net, saving everyone a lot of time and effort as well.

JAMES: Yeah. Look, as one of my mentors says – a guy that we both know, Michael – he talks about the fact that he’s had high-quality referral partners for eight years, and they speak on a weekly basis. So they speak weekly, and they’ve done it for eight years, so clearly there’s something to be said for the quality of that relationship. I think that sometimes you can extract more from fewer people as opposed to doing a haphazard approach or an unstructured approach or a hope, wish, and pray approach to lots of people. Casting your net wide doesn’t necessarily mean casting your net well, and it doesn’t necessarily mean fishing in the places where there’s opportunity and abundance.

SCOTT: What do you think about the technology side of things for referrals, such as apps like ReferUs, their applicability to advisors? Do you think they’ve got any place in what we’ve just talked about, human connections and having fewer rather than many?

JAMES: Yeah, I think that they can facilitate or enhance aspects of the process. But it doesn’t replace them. Like I was saying on a recent training that I was at, I’ve noticed that one of my referral partners, whenever he refers me, I always get into a conversation, and it’s much easier. Whereas I’ve noticed with another referral partner, because of the way he’s going about positioning me – which is based on just technology only – my ability to get my foot in the door isn’t as strong.

So one person is having face-to-face conversations, he’s positioning me well and really recommending me to that particular person – be that a person that may need my services or be that someone that I could build a really good relationship with. The other person is just doing it through an online platform, so that’s now an opportunity for me to go back and reeducate him to say, you know what? That’s all well and good, but I think we need to add something to that, because the net result of you going about this process is sure, you’re getting an introduction, but no one’s speaking to me. So there’s clearly a gap in that process.

SCOTT: Right, cool. James, what sort of professions do you work with? What sort of advisors do you coach?

JAMES: Mostly mortgage brokers. That didn’t happen by design per se. It wasn’t that I’ve been a mortgage broker for many years. It was more so that when I started my business several years ago, a broker came up to me and said, “I would love to find out a bit more about what you do,” and then he introduced me through to someone else and so on and so forth.

I remember my mentor at the time, she said, “Don’t try and work out your niche and where you’re best positioned by sitting on the couch in front of the TV. Get out there and start helping people and having conversations and making things happen, and you’ll just realize where it is that you’re best able to add value.” So I went with that philosophy, and it seems to have gone okay.

SCOTT: I wholeheartedly agree with that. The number of conversations you have, all of a sudden things become a lot clearer. So for finance brokers, or indeed, maybe even the wider consultant type of community, if they want to get in contact with you and find out about how they can get more referrals and be more successful in their businesses, what’s the best way to go about contacting you?

JAMES: I’ll give you three avenues. Some people may enjoy going to my website, because as you know, I also run a podcast, and similarly, I also interview a range of people, and they may enjoy being inspired and educated by some of my guests. So they’re welcome to visit the site, which is Adviser is spelt with an “er.” I’ll be forever saying that.

SCOTT: And I’ll make sure that those details are written underneath this video as well.

JAMES: Oh, beauty. They’re welcome to also send me an email if they’d like, which is [email protected] Or if they’d like to ring up and have a quick call and find out a bit more about what I do, or maybe if I could point them in the right direction or introduce them through to my networks, I’m more than happy to have those conversations as well. It’s always a pleasure to help people where I can. The best number is 03-9395-5674.

SCOTT: Fantastic. James, thank you so much for coming on the Small Business Heroes show with us today. We really appreciate your time and your expertise on this.

My name’s Scott Trevethan. You’re listening to the Small Business Heroes show. If you’d like to find more about this show, you can go to our Facebook group, which is Small Business Heroes, and please just join that. You can also find us on our Facebook page, which is Scott Partners Pty Ltd, or go to our website, which is I’m Scott Trevethan. You’re listening to the Small Business Heroes show. Thanks for listening.

JAMES: Thank you.

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