John Elway. Brett Favre. Peyton Manning. Tom Brady. Even if you’ve never watched a game of football in your life, you’ve probably heard at least one of those names (after all, who hasn’t seen one of Peyton’s commercials?) These are 4 of the best quarterbacks to play the game, ever.
But what makes them great quarterbacks? And what the heck does this have to do with you, a financial advisor? I’m so glad you asked.
Today we’re going to take a few pointers from the pros and help you become the MVP of every meeting.
Here are 5 tips for becoming your CPA partner’s best quarterback.
- Do your research. Good quarterbacks spend hours watching film of past games. Great quarterbacks spend days in front of a screen, studying their opponents as well as their own teammates. They look for strengths and weaknesses. They learn everything there is to know about how their teammates and opponents play the game. As you start your journey into a partnership with a CPA, be sure and do your research. Learn as much as possible about the CPA you want to partner with. Think about communication styles – is she a phone call person or an email person? Consider typical clientele – what can you provide that will appeal to those specific clients? Dig a little deeper and see if you and your potential CPA partner might have a professional or academic connection you can take advantage of. Did you go to the same school? Are you both members of the same professional organization? The key here is, take the time to learn as much as you can because you never know what information will come in handy late.
- Stay 5 steps ahead. Just before the snap, a quarterback has about a million things running through his head. He’s making sure his hands are positioned just right to receive the snap without losing the ball. He’s thinking about which direction each of his receivers will be moving. And he’s thinking about the million things that could possibly go wrong after that ball is snapped. One of the things that makes a quarterback great is his ability to anticipate potential problems and to adjust before there’s actually an issue. Likewise, you need to plan ahead. Look for holes in your partnership. Anticipate where problems could come up and figure out how to deal with them now, before there’s actually an issue.
- Know when and where to throw the ball. In the seconds after the snap, a quarterback has to quickly observe and analyze the entire field. He’s looking for the best case scenario, the receiver who has the best chance of making a good play and the exact right moment to make that pass so the ball gets past the defense and to the receiver. For your partnership with a CPA to work, you have to be ready and able to make the pass. If you have a client who needs tax help and their questions are beyond your expertise, it’s time to pass them off. But if your client is a lawyer and you try to pass him to your CPA partner who hates working with lawyers… well, let’s just say that’s definitely going down in the books as a fumble. Know your team. Only pass the ball to them when you know they can make a great play on it.
- Follow through. The quarterback’s job isn’t over once the ball is out of his hands. He’s watching every second of that play, until the ball touches the ground. He’s analyzing the play, as it happens, and figuring out what he can do differently to make the next play more successful. Your job isn’t done once you’ve passed a client off to your CPA partner. You should be checking in to see how they’re doing, asking how you can work together and with the client to make everything run more smoothly. And the same goes for when your partner refers you to a client. Don’t stop at getting referrals. Work with your CPA partner to make sure that your ongoing relationship is as successful as possible.
- Remember the end game. Quarterbacks take each game play by play. There’s no rushing it. But ultimately, the goal is to be on top at the end. Every play is chosen with that goal in mind. Every pass is thrown with the goal of getting another touchdown, another field goal, whatever it takes to win that game. What’s your goal? Are you just hoping for more clients? If so, that’s fine. But know what your goal is ahead of time and plan accordingly. If your ultimate goal is better connections all around (which will lead to more and more income generating relationships) take the time to form a connection with your CPA partner, on a deeper level than just professional. Grab a cup of coffee on a day off, or grab lunch and bring it to her office one day (make sure you schedule that in advance – don’t just show up). Take the time to figure out what you really want to get out of that partnership, make sure you’re both on the same page, and then figure out what you need to do to make it happen.
If you’ve never really taken the time to think about the strategy involved in developing partnerships with CPAs, this is a great time to take a look back and think about what’s worked, what hasn’t, what you could do better, and how to develop the partnerships you really need to meet your goals. This will help you in your current partnerships, as well as help you develop new ones should the need arise later.