Coach: What’s your strategy for working with CPAs?
Advisor: Well, for starters, we send gift baskets every year around tax time.
This is a snippet of conversation we’ve endured too many times to count. It’s like asking a dentist for their marketing strategy and hearing, “For starters, I give out toothbrushes with my name and number on them.” When you hear advisors placing too much emphasis on gift baskets, you know they’re missing the larger picture of year-round relationship management.
Our focus today isn’t to provide you with an in-depth strategy for CPA alliances; it’s to give you a simple change to start you down the right path with CPAs this year.
Here’s our suggestion—replace your gift basket with an end-of-tax-season celebration. It’s simple, not too expensive, and helps you deepen these relationships in a way that a tangible gift cannot. Here’s how to pull it off:
1. Pre-plan the festivities.
Thinking ahead a bit, it’s ideal to call your CPA partner with a plan in mind. It shows you’re prepared and serious about hosting the event. Pick a venue where mingling occurs naturally like a tasting room, sporting event or restaurant with an outdoor area.
2. Invite the CPA and their team.
Your energy and enthusiasm are important in the invitation call. Let them know you’d like to host an end-of-tax-season celebration specifically for their team/firm (i.e. you’re not inviting other CPAs in town). Let them know you’ve got a venue in mind, but that you need their help in selecting a date and inviting their team.
3. Do your homework.
Prior to the event, you’ll want to do some homework. First, ask your main CPA contact for insights on who will be attending. You can even go so far as to ask, “Who are some key attendees that I should get to know?” Secondly, do some online intel gathering to uncover who you’d like to meet and you might also find some conversation starters (their specialty, alma mater, etc.)
4. Host the event with an eye for follow-up.
When you’re at the event, make your rounds and get to know people beyond business. Encourage your main CPA contact to introduce you around when possible. Ideally, you establish some new contacts that would be willing to meet with you after the event.
Remember, this isn’t an end-all approach to developing CPA alliances. It’s a starting point for year-round relationship management. How will you engage them in subsequent months? Also, don’t fret if you’ve already bought the gift baskets for this year. Just send them to your favorite wealthmanagement.com columnists!
@StephenBoswell is President of The Oechsli Institute and author of Best Practices of Elite Advisors. @KevinANichols is the Chief Operating Officer for The Oechsli Institute and author of The Indispensable LinkedIn Sales Guide for Financial Advisors.