Don’t ask for referrals? Heresy, you say! Well, hear me out before you tune me out. Just like you, I have heard a number of so-called sales experts extol the virtues of why you should ask for referrals. I have listened to these pundits and I have attended conferences and workshops where the topic comes up over and over. And I hear the same confessions from million-dollar producers lamenting the fact that they, “still don’t ask for referrals even though I should.” And the ones that do ask don’t claim to get great results even though they have a successful practice. The reason? Clients don’t want to be pressured to “sell” their friends and family on your services. They don’t want to be made to feel that they are doing your job for you as much as they like and appreciate you.
Well, I am here to relieve the guilt of those of you who feel inadequate because you don’t ask your clients for referrals. I believe that you are doing the right thing by not asking for referrals…at least not in the way you have been ostracized for not doing. Clients will refer you if you are professional in how you go about it.
I believe that asking your clients for referrals or putting cute phrases on your business cards or email templates that state, “the best compliment that you can give me is a referral” only serves to cheapen our profession and your practice in particular. When was the last time that you visited a doctor and after he or she was finished they said, “Hey Joe, I’m glad that we were able to heal that nasty case of athlete’s foot. If you know anyone who could use my services please give them one of my cards?” Or when was the last time you met with an attorney and he or she said, “Well Sally, I’m glad we were able to get what you wanted from your divorce. If you have any friends who could use my services, please let them k now about me?”
Financial Advisors are professionals and should act like professionals when it comes to referrals. Here are two suggestions. First, if you want referrals then give referrals. I believe in the Zig Ziglar credo, “You will get what you want if you help enough people get what they want.”
You know your clients. You know what businesses they are in. So the next time that you meet with them ask them how you can help them grow their businesses. What does an ideal prospect for their business look like? Then follow-up by referring people to your clients. They will follow suit when you do I guarantee it.
Secondly, if you want referrals from your clients then give them a value-added reason to do so. You can do this with client events. I heard of one advisor who invited five of his best golf-loving clients to a Saturday morning retirement income planning breakfast followed by a golf lesson and nine holes of golf. He had a product partner cover the cost of the golf and the breakfast. The only requirement he gave his clients was that they had to bring a friend. So the advisor got in front of five new prospects during the morning events and was able to secure two of them as clients. More importantly he made his clients look like heroes for providing them with the opportunity to invite their friends to such a classy event and show off their advisor. It is much more effective than telling them about their advisor.
I’m sure that you have heard of a number of variations on the client appreciation/invite a friend event. The bottom line is that it works. Personally, if my doctor invited me to a lunch workshop on “heart issues after 50” and asked me to bring a friend I would probably do it and I would think more highly of him than if he outright asked me for a referral. Similarly if my attorney invited me to an estate planning workshop and asked me to invite a friend I would appreciate the value of such an invitation. At the same time, I’m not naïve enough to miss the point of bringing a friend. They are professionals and want to grow their business.
And so it goes for financial advisors. You are professionals and want to grow your business. You have the opportunity to conquer the client referral conundrum in a way that works and will shine the light on you as a true professional. Your clients will appreciate the fact that you are willing to refer to them and/or invite them to a meaningful event and they in turn will fill your pipeline with new prospects. At the same time you will maintain your reputation as a trusted professional.