Build and Maintain Your Referral System

Horseshoe magnet attracting new customersYou're still targeting, but with people you know.

By Martin Bissett

Business Development On a Budget

Many firms have a "referral system" in place: Take what comes in the door, make a phone call every now and then to a lawyer, bank manager or other introducer to try and shake the tree enough to get something to work on.

MORE ON BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: Preventing Buyer’s Remorse | 2 Rules for Getting Your Pricing Right | How to Prepare for the First Meeting with a New Prospect | Consider Hiring a Sales Director | Your Perception vs. Your Client’s Reality | Appraise Your Prospects | Develop the Habit of Consistency

This, in fact, is not a system at all. A system is what I will describe in the rest of this post.

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Martin Bissett

Martin Bissett

About the Author

Martin Bissett is the author of

He is the founder of The Upward Spiral Partnership Ltd., the UK-based consulting firm that specializes in the implementation of professional selling and leadership skills in the next generation of accounting professionals.

And he is co-founder of AddviserPlus, a training and consulting hub for accountants and bookkeepers who are ready to go beyond commoditized compliance and technology-based services and embrace the prosperity and rewards from providing high-value advisory services, one client at a time.

Learn more about AddviserPlus here

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Previously, Martin served ten years on the board of the directors of the UK’s leading provider of high-quality new business appointments for accountancy firms. There, he held the responsibility for the nurture and organic growth of the organization’s new client base, including six of the UK’s top 30 firms of accountants.

Martin became fascinated by the apparent juxtaposition of partners not vocalizing what they were looking for in terms of an accomplished skill set from their potential future partners and their managers not asking to discover what that skill set included, despite wanting to reach that very position. In a profession with a supposed “Succession Crisis” on the horizon, this apparent stand-off struck him as curious.

This has led Upward Spiral Partnership to personally interview several hundred partners and managers in the US and UK to learn what partners are looking for and how the managers see their own future in the firm. There are, of course, firms that have addressed this issue already, and their initiatives have also been captured.

The results of the research, including both the consensus and the exceptions to the general opinion, is called “Passport to Partnership.” This study provides the highlights of each factor that the majority of partners interviewed use as their criteria when evaluating whether someone in their organization can make it to the top.

As a result of the combination of his experience, intellectual property, and this proprietary research, Martin now consults with accounting firms in the UK, Europe, and the USA to support them in their transition through to the next stage of their development and growth.

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