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Thoughts on how to maximise the return from your distribution (referral) networks

Two businesses, same problem. One a financial advice business, the other a finance business. Both have established distribution networks. Both want to grow, and both are ignoring the opportunities in front of them.

“I know my customers. I call those that haven’t financed with us in a while and talk with them. Ask them how their business is going"

Ignoring the fact that the business has three distinct distribution segments. And only one small subset, of one the segments, gets any proactive contact.

The rest receive a periodic email. And the one that contributes the most revenue is often overlooked.

The financial advice firm receives referrals from an AR network of accountants. 

“Twenty actively refer to us, the other ninety are erratic at best. I keep telling the ARs that their clients want advice, but nothing happens."

Research backs that up. Many people do want financial advice and do not know where to get it. But facts never changed behaviour. Telling people rarely works.

Showing how is more successful.

Many accountants are technicians, comfortable in their sandpit. Some struggle to build business advisory services. If they can't advise on business, how can they generate interest in personal financial advice? They need that help first.

How to maximise the return from your distribution networks

It is about them and what they need to promote your services.

1. Understand their world and their challenges

If you want people to sell your products or services, you must put yourself in their shoes. To be successful, you have to fit into their world. Get that, talk to that, and you are ½ way there.

2. Explain the value you offer to their clients

Show them who you best serve, how, the value you deliver. Give your referrers cases studies, endorsements, proof, sales tools, promotional materials.

3. Provide support

Distribution channels can be a powerful growth hormone. But they need constant care. Be close to your clients (because that is who they are), help them grow their business. They will build yours.

4. Be committed

Building a profitable route to market takes time. It is not a set and forget, times change. What worked ten years ago may well be obsolete. More nimble competitors could take your market.

 5. Measure, get feedback, optimise

Always keep an eye on how they are performing. Listen carefully to the complaints or ideas from the edges. Those people care and think about things. That is where your next innovation or threat will first appear.


The finance company has just five brokers, out of seven hundred and fifty, originating business for them. The financial advisory firm has less than 20% of its AR network, referring new clients to them.

The upside for both is enormous.

Are you maximising the return from your referral (distribution) networks?

Posted on 28 Aug 2020


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