Archive for the 'Center of Influence (COI) Marketing' Category

Tax Season Survival Kits – Update 2011

 

For our accounting friends, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” (hum it?).

Long hours, not much sleep, poor diet, not well rested – so what can you do to help?

How can you impress these weary tax warriors?

It is time to send – The Tax Season Survival Pack!

This is a nice package of food and goodies for their office. Whether its Hickory Farms, Swiss Colony or a giant food basket from your favorite market or vendor, send one.

Make sure it is enough to feed the crew for a day or two.

Enough for them to say, “Wow, isn’t that nice” – because it is!

They work very hard this time of year and will truly appreciate your support.

So the next question is when to have this care package delivered?

You might think near April 15th…nope.

I would suggest March 11th for 2011.

As you may now, April 15 has now become a soft date.  It is very easy and common for folks to go on extension as that date gets closer.

But the best clients they have are the business/corporate clients, whose returns are due March 15th – and they don’t want to go on extension!

Delivering on March 11th is about the time when the nights and days all blur together and the crunch is on. 

Think about it:  your nice package arriving during the heat of battle. A beautiful thing!

Guide – Treat your accounting centers of influence to a treat during their most stressful week of the year

Action Item – Send the Tax Season survival Pack and feed them and their staff.

© 2011 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Please leave comments to share with others by clicking the comment link below the title of this article.

Pizza Time

Here is an idea I recently heard! What a terrific gift.

First I contacted all the pizza places in town and found the best super large pizza’s for the best price ($8.00/ per pizza which included tip).

I was able to do this because I told them I wanted to order and have delivered a pizza to every CPA and tax preparer firm in town.

Then I went to MSFT Word and found a picture of Uncle Sam pointing his finger and I did a flyer that said “Take a break on us”, Compliments of myself and my firm. I took the flyer to the pizza place and attached it to the pizza box.

The pizza’s were then delivered and my telephone rang and rang with thank you’s from the CPA and their staffs. Referrals started coming in. It was a win win for the pizza place and a win win for me.

Guide – People remember and appreciate the gift of food, especially when they are hungry.

Action Item – Try Pizza Time in your town.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Please leave comments to share with others by clicking the comment link below the title of this article.

The Tax Season Survival Pack

 

For our accounting friends, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” (hum it?).

Long hours, not much sleep, poor diet, not well rested – so what can you do to help?

How can you impress these weary tax warriors?

It is time to send – The Tax Season Survival Pack!

This is a nice package of food and goodies for their office. Whether its Hickory Farms, Swiss Colony or a giant food basket from your favorite market or vendor, send one.

Make sure it is enough to feed the crew for a day or two.

Enough for them to say, “Wow, isn’t that nice” – because it is!

They work very hard this time of year and will truly appreciate your support.

So the next question is when to have this care package delivered?

You might think near April 15th…nope.

I would suggest March 11th for 2011.

As you may now, April 15 has now become a soft date.  It is very easy and common for folks to go on extension as that date gets closer.

But the best clients they have are the business/corporate clients, whose returns are due March 15th – and they don’t want to go on extension!

Delivering on March 10th is about the time when the nights and days all blur together and the crunch is on. 

Think about it:  your nice package arriving during the heat of battle. A beautiful thing!

Guide – Treat your accounting centers of influence to a treat during their most stressful week of the year

Action Item – Send the Tax Season survival Pack and feed them and their staff.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Please leave comments to share with others by clicking the comment link below the title of this article.

Now! Spend time with your COI’s.

 

Spend 3 hours with your best centers of influence.

A quick lunch is not enough.  Following the theme of going deeper, not wider, really getting to know these people is key to any lasting relationship.

Right now is the time of year for planning.  Planning your relationships is just as, if not more, important than other planning.

You really need to get to know your centers of influence and they REALLY need to get to know you.

Consider this – Do you know your COI’s spouses’ names, the children’s names or where they go to school?  Do you know where your COI’s went to school for that matter?  Do you know if they belong to a church or synagogue?  What their favorite causes or charities are?  What they REALLY care about?  Are their parents living?  Are they dealing with family matters?  Are they happy in their role within the practice?  How do they get paid?  Salary and bonus?  A percentage of profits?  Are they an equity partner or just a profits partner?  Do they have their own assistant?

You get the idea!

Go out and learn about your center of influences just as you would any client.  Take a fact finder.

Go deeper, not wider – It will pay off in a stronger relationship.

Guide – Knowing more about your key centers of influence gives them the comfort of knowing you understand them.  This results in a stronger relationship.

Action item – Call your COI’s now and ask them for some time – Not 20-30 minutes, but an opportunity to get to know each other.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

The Rainmaker Dinner

The most successful event in the history of my practice by a long shot?

The Rainmaker dinner!

What is the Rainmaker dinner?

This annual event brings together 7 to 9 professional advisors that you have worked with or want to work with for a private dinner.

  • Identify the attendees – These are the best advisors:  CPAs, Enrolled Agents, Attorneys, etc.
  • Secure a venue.  This would be a private dining room in a nice restaurant.  The seating should be a rectangular table (not round) like your dining room table at home, so everyone can talk with everyone.
  • Identify an outside guest speaker (maybe) – As a newer advisor, you may want to bring in a speaker to talk about a topic your guests would find interesting in the area of practice management or business building.
  • Personally invite each guest with a phone call and explain to them this unique networking opportunity to meet with you and some peers to discuss some ideas.
  • If possible, order dinner in advance as it only takes away from your time together – Give each attendee the choice of a seafood, beef, chicken or vegetarian entrée.  Salads and desserts can be standard.
  • Gather about 6pm for drinks but make sure your server insists that you be seated by 6:30 sharp.  Engage the staff in helping get the group seated.
  • Thank all for being there.  Go around the room and ask the guests to introduce themselves, the name of the firm and their specialty (or ideal client!)
  • After salads are served, ask your speaker to engage the group casually in the topic for the evening.
  • Again after dessert, thank your entire party for their participation in your practice and for coming this evening.
  • Make sure a credit card has already been filed with the restaurant so there is no need to pay as dinner ends.

Be sure and follow up within 48 hours with each guest to set an appointment to discuss the concepts that were brought up over dinner.

This dinner is virtually guaranteed to add value to your relationships!

Guide – Bringing together peer advisors over dinner leads to great comradery and is valuable for all as a cross networking opportunity.

Action item – Set up your rainmaker dinner as soon as possible.  It is really worth it.

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

The Vendor Event

 

So you’re doing business with these folks all year long, right?

Which folks, you ask?  Why ,  your vendors of course!

These people provide you with ALL of the products and services you  use and may also offer to your clients.

I would suggest that these vendor relationships are extraordinary, intimate and valuable.

And yes, I did say intimate. 

How well do your vendors really know you? I bet quite well. You have leaned on them and they have leaned on you.  And after all, isn’t that what relationships are all about?

In many cases you would be lost without them. And consider this: some  may  even  be  “ideal” clients!  Many might even refer a prospect–or at least be capable of it!

This  team of professionals that service you and your business represent a wonderful opportunity.

The Vendor Dinner

Each year, my wife and I look at our list of vendors and ask a simple, yet very important question: “In the past year, who are the top 8 individuals that have ADDED THE MOST VALUE to our business?”

Usually the answer is obvious, and many individuals make the list year-after-year.

Once we have established the list, we invite each individual to a  group  dinner on us, complete with a private room, open bar, an excellent meal (appropriate to the times, this year our vendors requested a nice burger place!) and great conversation.

We let them know with a grand toast that we are successful because of their help and assistance.

They definitely feel appreciated!

This has been going on now for 12 years and has certainly been worth it.

Many have become clients, most have become friends, and several have referred prospects–and all have taken great care of us whenever we’ve needed it!

We are just beginning to think about next year’s event, which will take place as it always does in February.

So consider thanking them in a tangible and special manner. 

This has arguably been the most successful event we hold each year, and it is always a lot of fun!

Guide – Thanking people for their help and loyalty goes both ways.

Action Item – Plan a Vendor dinner for some of your most valuable relationships.

© 2009 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Please leave comments to share with others by clicking the comment link below the title of this article.

Welcome Guest Blogger: Steve Yastrow – The Encounter Habit

 

 I really enjoyed this from Steve Yastrow and received his permission to share it with you.  Eliot

 —-

The Encounter Habit

Comment on this newsletter at yastrow.com

Each day, relationship-building encounters are the most important product you produce.

Yes, this is true. Why?

First, because “We” relationships are the true differentiators in today’s business world. Differentiating your products and services is very difficult these days, because customers see ours as a “land of plenty,” where one product can be substituted by another.

Second, because most of us can impact our relationships much more readily on a day-to-day basis than we can impact our products. If you are a salesperson, you will have a much easier time today making your customer happy by building your relationship with him than you could by improving your product’s specifications. If you are a real estate broker, it’s much easier to build a relationship with a client than to change the prices of available properties. Even if you are a doctor, it’s easier to impact your patient relationships today than it is to improve the efficacy of the latest drug treatments. You can make a better relationship easier than you can make a better product.

We relationships are built one encounter at a time. Each time you come in contact with a customer, you have the opportunity to improve– or degrade– your relationship. This is something you can affect every day, at every moment, you are engaging with a customer. You do it by constantly monitoring how well you are integrating the three elements of a relationship-building encounter into your interaction:

  • Are you and your customer both fully engaged in the moment?
  • Are you creating conversation, a true dialogue and not an exchange of monologues?
  • Are you creating a fresh, unique moment, an unscripted interaction between two unique people?

I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about this minute-by-minute encounter management and self-awareness. I realized that this theme was woven in three blog posts I published over the last few days, each covering one of the three elements of an encounter:

  • I wrote this post, Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional, about how we have the power to shut out distractions and remain engaged in the moment, no matter what is tugging at our attention.
  • This post, The Conversationometer, focused on the importance of monitoring the quality of dialogue during a customer interaction.
  • Be Irreplaceable was published on tompeters.com, and generated some interesting comments from the Tom Peters community. This post focused on bringing your personal uniqueness into a customer encounter.

The Yastrow Conversationometer: From monologue to dialogue
Download the full-size Conversationometer(Adobe PDF)

When I teach people these principles of relationship-building encounters, they rarely resist the concept and, in fact, are able to give me clear examples from their own business lives of when they did, or did not, create relationship-building encounters. But… people admit to struggling with creating encounters on a regular basis.

Why? Why don’t we create encounters all the time, if we know how to do it, and we know it is important?

When we don’t create encounters and slip into relationship-eroding transactions, it’s usually because we are not alert to the fact that we’re missing one or more elements of the encounter:

  • We lose our attention to the moment, or don’t realize that our customer has become unengaged.
  • We monologue and don’t catch ourselves.
  • We miss what makes the other person unique, and they infer we don’t understand them, or we use prefab scripts in a way that makes ourselves seem generic and stiff.

Like so many important parts of life, creating relationship-building customer encounters takes practice. Practice leads to habit. Habit leads to progress. Progress leads to strong relationships. Strong relationships lead to business success.

So how do we create the encounter habit?

Pay attention, at all times during a customer interaction, to the state of your encounter.

  • Are we both present, at this very moment, in the interaction?
    • If you become distracted, notice it, and focus in on details of the interaction you are in, to bring yourself back into the moment with your customer.
    • If your customer’s engagement starts to wane, notice it and bring her back in.
      (For more ideas on how to engage yourself in the moment, and how to invite your customer into the moment, see pages 47 – 69 in my book We: The Ideal Customer Relationship, or pages 10 – 14 in my free ebook, Encounters)
  • Are we, at this very moment, engaged in true, genuine dialogue?
    • Use The Conversationometer, described in the blog post and the graphic above. The Conversationometer requires no batteries, no electrical current, and you can never misplace it. All you need to do to use The Conversationometer is to be aware, at all moments in a conversation, of how things are going, and then act on what you notice.
      (For more ideas on how use conversation in customer encounters, see pages 73 – 88 in my book We: The Ideal Customer Relationship)
  • Are we, at this very moment, creating a unique, authentic moment between two unique, authentic people?
    • Am I noticing, and honoring, the “spices” that define what makes my customer and his situation unique?
    • Am I being irreplaceable in the way I engage; interacting in a way that could not be duplicated by someone else, even if they were providing the same service I am providing?
    • Does the moment itself seem fresh and unique, and not as if it was scripted and “pulled from inventory?”

One very important idea for this moment-by-moment attention to customer encounters is to recognize that you can always improve a customer interaction, at any point, no matter how well or how poorly it is going. If the encounter is in full-swing, use that as a chance to take it to an even higher level. On the other hand, if your interaction has degraded into transaction-land, don’t give up. No matter how far down a customer interaction has slipped, you can use the 3 encounter elements– engagement in the moment, conversation and uniqueness– to help bring it back on track.

As with any habit, the encounter habit takes practice. Use every encounter as a chance to improve. Remember, if you get 1% better at creating relationship-building encounters every day, you’ll be twice as good in 72 days. (Relationship habits grow at a compound rate just like cash!)

I’m speaking from experience here. I started researching and writing We four years ago today, on June 15, 2005. As I listened to hundreds of people tell me about their relationships, I saw this theme of encounters, and of the 3 encounter elements, emerge. It fascinated me, and I began to practice. I have a long way to go, but now, when I inadvertently end up with a transaction instead of an encounter, I can always look back and see exactly where things went awry. This puts me into a position to improve. Immediately.

So look at every customer interaction as a practice in improving your ability to create encounters. Not only will the immediate encounter be better, your future encounters will be better, leading to better relationships and better business success. As they say in yoga, “practice makes practice.” Develop the encounter habit, and you will find yourself, every day, in richer, more productive, more rewarding customer encounters.

Steve Yastrow
Join the conversation! Comment at yastrow.com
steve@yastrow.com
P 847 686 0400


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