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December 18, 2014 | Marketing | Posted by David Cristello David Cristello

5 Uncommon Referral Techniques from Top Accounting Pros

The following is a guest post by David Cristello, CEO of Jetpack Workflow.

It’s no industry secret that referrals are the backbone of building a thriving firm or practice. In fact, the elusive referral “strategy” usually falls into most firms simply saying “we get clients from word of mouth and referrals,” without implementing any strategies or tactics to get them!

Which is why I’ve polled the collective wisdom from some of the top consultants and practitioners in the accounting industry to find the top 5 uncommon referral techniques for increasing business!

#1: Don’t skip out on the product companies

Michelle Long, a leading Quickbooks expert, coach, and author, recommends looking beyond the “typical” referrals (read: service companies like law firms, accountants, consultants, etc) and looks at complementary product companies. Whether it’s a physical product, location, or software company, building a relationship with product companies is not only less crowded, but it could also be a great way to be positioned as a “leader” in the marketplace.

Question & Action: What products are your clients using? Reach out to 3 of the most common ones and set up an initial meeting around what a potential referral partnerships could look like. For some companies, you might have to brainstorm a referral program with them!


#2: Finding ways to “wow” not just clients, but referrals

Sandi Holst, who successfully sold her bookkeeping business, contributes her referral strategy as one of the leading tactics for growing so quickly.

First, she connected with noncompetitive service firms (specifically tax). Next, she crafted a unique “client binder” which demonstrated how well she could organize and present critical client information to her service referral.

Instead of working with lackluster firms, Sandi showed tax firms how she could organize information (so it was easy for THEM to do their job).This organized, easy to say “yes” to approach, made landing referral partners a lot easier for Sandi (especially when you think about all the “me me me” referrals pitches you hear. Sandi made it about them. How she could make their client work and workload easier!)

Question and Action: How are you standing out to your potential referrals? Can you package or organize something that would make their job easier?

#3: How printing blog posts brings in referrals


Edward Mendlowitz, a well known author and partner at WithumSmith+Brown, is a master at crafting content that benefits his clients. Every time a client has a question, he records or writes down his answer. Not only does he put these answers on his blog, but he also prints them and sends to clients AND prospects facing a similar issue.

Talk about getting the most out of what you got! Because of this, Ed has built a raving client base, which continually brings in new referrals.

Question and Action: When you get a question from a client, what do you do? For the next 2 weeks, try and record at least 3 common client questions, and print them out and send them the article (with a personal note) to your 10 clients or prospects that will benefit most from the information.


#4: The KISS (keep it simple…stupid) method


Ryan Watson (you might’ve heard of his name before ) was determined to help build his new firm with his partners… except that none of the traditional “shotgun” marketing seemed to be working.

So they put together a series of “coffee meetings” with local business owners, startup companies, and startup organizations and accelerators.

By having a genuine conversation (which didn’t pitch their service), they were able to build a strong community base, which in turn helped them land some of their biggest and best referral partners.

Question and Action: How often are you meeting (online or offline) with prospects and referral partners? Schedule 3 “coffee meetings” with potential referral partners and prospects. Remember, no hard selling allowed, this is about building a relationship and establishing trust.


#5: Finding new profit centers through referrals


A few years ago, a “lightbulb” moment happened for Chris Regain. Unable to find a suitable referral partner for wealth management, he decided to research the market, learn the skills, and start his own! And it’s becoming the fastest growing service in his firm, and is on its way to be its own 7 figure profit center.

Question and Action: Are you unable to find a suitable referral for a common service or product your clients are asking for? Spend 15 minutes and identify 2-3 new services or profit centers you could potentially add to your firm.


What referrals strategies have worked best for you? Leave your answers in the comments below!


Written by

David Cristello

David Cristello

David Cristello is the CEO of Jetpack Workflow, a cloud based workflow and client management solution for leading service professionals.