“Do you get many new clients from referrals?” I asked my new financial advisor client. There was a pause. He cleared his throat and said “Not as many as I would expect.” “How often do you ask for referrals?” I asked cautiously. Another pause. “Every now and then.”
One of my top “Best Practices” is to have my clients adopt a referral attitude in everything they do because a high percentage of successful wealth managers ask for referrals regularly. Training yourself to ask for referrals is a strategy you MUST tackle early on in your practice. Training your clients to GIVE you referrals is not as difficult as you may think.
In a study of over 2000 financial advisors by a top training company, the firm found that there are basically four types of advisors.
Type 1 150 or fewer clients and net incomes of $300,000 or less
Type 2 more than 150 clients and net incomes of $300,000 or less
Type 3 more than 150 clients and net incomes of more than $300,000
Type 4 the most successful group: 150 or fewer clients and incomes greater than $300,000
Forty-five percent of advisors in Type 4 asked for referrals four or more times annually. This group received ten times as many referrals as the least successful group. In groups 1 through 3, fewer than 1 in 7 regularly asked for referrals.
In his book Cultivating the Affluent, author Russ Alan Prince found through his research of 879 wealthy individuals with one million plus in investible assets that the preferred method of finding an advisor was through a referral. The plain and simple truth is that the most successful financial advisors have created a systemized way of asking for and following up with referrals.
Why don’t more advisors utilize this strategy?
Everyone knows that asking for referrals is just smart business, but not everyone does it. Why?
- Laziness – It takes real effort to institute a written referral strategy. After all, you must track who you asked, who gave you the referral, you must set up phone calls, meetings, and send thank you cards to the referrer.
- Not up to snuff – Some advisors just are not all that referable. You have to be really great at what you do in order to impress clients and prospects. If you’re not an expert at something, do not invest in advanced education or credentials, or have not done the work necessary to create a professional practice, you probably are not all that referable.
- Don’t have confidence – You have to be confident that your clients value what you do for them. One way to be more confident is to maintain constant contact with your clients and be the Trusted Advisor.
- No official strategy or workflow to follow – Most advisors who do ask for referrals do it haphazardly. With an official workflow and person to manage your referral program you are much more likely to utilize this strategy.
What is a referral campaign?
It is a series of three or more letters sent two months apart designed to introduce the topic of referrals in an escalating manner. I have three referral letter templates that work really well at setting the stage for referrals. I just love it when I hear from clients regarding how effective a referral campaign can be.
My phone rang this morning and as I heard the excited voice of a favorite mid-west client proclaim “Suzanne it works! It really works! I was bold enough to ask for a referral and I got one!” I thought to myself “Sometimes all we need is a little push to do the bold things we would not do on our own.”
The moral to this story is: find ways to implement referrals in your practice. While it is simple to start asking, you must BE REFERABLE by having a Service Model that encourages referrals. You must plan effectively to make this happen.
How about you? Do you currently have a referral strategy? What do you do to make referrals part of your practice? How do you generate leads? How do you get clients from your website? Tell me in the comments below.