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Seven steps to referral success for business coaches

There are a LOT of professions in the business to business space who want to create trusted referral relationships with business coaches. However there is a problem…While it’s very easy for good business coaches to refer business to others, it’s often a one way street. Here’s a 7 step solution

By Brenda Thomson

In the Synergy48 Group SMART Partner Wheel, business coaches and consultants are our second most popular alliance partner category.  (The most popular category is accountants).

And it’s easy to see why… business coaches and consultants are in the prime “problem spotter” position. Whatever the problems are in their clients’ businesses, they are in the best possible position to see them, and equally importantly, owing to their position of trusted advisor, their clients are highly likely to follow their recommendations.  

What that means is that there are a LOT of professions in the business to business space who want to create trusted referral relationships with business coaches.

However, there is a problem…

While it’s very easy for good business coaches to refer business to others, it’s far more difficult for their partners to refer business back.

Think about it… it’s very easy for the business coach to say to a client… you need to get a decent bookkeeper (or accountant/lawyer/insurance agent/HR consultant etc) to help you sort out your books (tax, IP, insurance, staff etc) and I can introduce you to a good one.

But it’s not so easy for the bookkeeper to say… “You need to get a decent business coach to help you sort out your business”.

And that means that business coaches have to work SMARTer! 

Here’s a foolproof strategy for business coaches to generate a steady stream of referrals from everyone that they refer business to. 

  1. Develop a detailed business analysis and report process. NOT a sales pitch in disguise.  Something that provides a client with genuinely useful information to help them see the problems in their business and strategies to move forward, whether or not they engage you on an ongoing basis to help them implement the strategies.  This could be a product that you sell, so put a dollar value on it.
  2. Develop a profile of your ideal client and turn it into a checklist. Something that someone else working with your ideal client would be able to easily use to identify them. Turnover range, size of business, industry AND whether or not they already have a business coach.
  3. Start building your SMART Partner Wheel of strong, credible, trusted advisors that you can be comfortable referring business to. Do your homework, get to know them well, make sure that they meet the SMART Partner Wheel Criteria:
    • They have the same values as you
    • They have the same ideal clients as you
    • They are proactively growing their business
    • Their goals are aligned with yours
    • They are not already working with another business coach using this or a similar strategy.
  4. Provide each of your referral partners with a business analysis and report on THEIR business. (Yes I know… many of them will not be your ideal clients, but they need to know what’s involved for the next step to work).  They need to see the value you provide!!! If they can’t see the value of the analysis and report then they are NOT a good referral partner for you.
  5. Ask your referral partners to include your business analysis and report as a “Thanks for being/becoming a client” gift for their clients who meet your ideal client profile at step 2.  If you have done steps 1, 3 and 4 correctly they will be happy to do it.  And if you have done step 2 correctly this strategy will send you a steady stream of introductions to your ideal clients.
  6. Make sure that you include a clear call to action at the end of each report and have a good follow up process in place to continue to build relationships with all of the potential clients for whom you have provided the report.  If you are not generating a satisfactory conversion rate from this strategy then perhaps you need to consult a good sales strategist.
  7. Meet with your referral partners regularly to:
    • discuss progress and make sure you are both benefiting from the arrangement. Make any tweaks as necessary so the relationship remains a WIN WIN.
    • Review and update their business analysis and report… you want to regularly remind them of how valuable it (and your advice) are so that giving it to their clients remains top of mind.


Brenda Thomson

Brenda Thomson

CEO and Founder, Synergy48 Group

Brenda has an honours degree in organizational psychology and a Graduate Certificate in training and development and she is an experienced trainer, facilitator and counsellor. She is a firm believer in mutual collaboration combined with a practical, hands on tools, strategies and systems as the most effective way to achieve real results in business. 

Brenda has over 20 years of experience training in communication, team work, time management, productivity, organisation and strategic planning in large organisations. She is also the developer of the Business Benchmarking Toolkit used by Synergy48 Group members and clients to identify areas for improvement in their business processes.

Brenda is a sought after mentor, speaker and trainer in the areas of strategic partnerships and networking with a difference.  She is passionate about actively giving back to the community. In addition to donating her speaking fees and a proportion of every Synergy48 Group membership to provide microfinance to help women in Malawi to start their own businesses, Brenda has climbed the Himalayas to raise money for Kids Help Line and helped lay a pipeline to supply water to a remote village in Tanzania.


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