Don’t Be Apologetic When Asking for Business or Referrals

For many financial advisors, that moment right before asking a prospect to take action on a recommendation or, in sales parlance, asking for the order is filled with tension. It can be more stressful when asking for referrals. Less seasoned advisors are often overcome with the fear of rejection, which is natural until you’ve developed more confidence in your ability to close. That comes with practice and experience.

The bigger problem is with advisors who, for whatever reason, approach that critical moment feeling apologetic—as if asking a client for a referral or a prospect to act on their recommendation may seem offensive. It’s a bigger problem because it stems from a mindset that can be more difficult to overcome. It demonstrates a lack of conviction in what they are proposing or, worse, in what they do for a living. They’re not convinced they are providing genuine value. If you don’t believe in yourself at that moment, how can you expect your prospect to have conviction in your solution or your client to believe in you when you ask for a referral?

What do you have to be sorry about?

I’ve seen that type of behavior in salespeople who don’t believe in their product, sales process, or themselves. They don’t believe they are offering any real value, so they act apologetically when asking for the order. It’s painful to watch because, even if the customer buys from them, you can tell they don’t really enjoy what they’re doing.

Financial advisors are not salespeople. They are advisors. They possess unique knowledge and skills that people need. Those who adhere to a proven process of understanding their clients’ circumstances, needs, goals, and life ambitions and formulating tailored solutions become trusted advisors. They’ve given you their time, their attention, their information, shared their goals and dreams and watched with interest as you laid out a plan to help them achieve them. And, if you’ve done your job right, they’re not sorry for having done that.

More importantly, those who build solid, enduring relationships with their clients can spend decades helping to guide them through life’s challenges while achieving financial security. Your work changes people’s lives for the better. Why would you apologize about that?

Changing Your Mindset

Changing your mindset starts with recognizing the value you bring to your clients and believing in your ability to deliver it. Providing highly personalized service, offering specialized advice, communicating in ways your clients can understand, being accessible when you’re needed, and demonstrating that you care are just some of the ways of demonstrating your value to your clients. They will not only appreciate it, but they will feel privileged to work with you.

Next, it’s critical to ingrain in your mindset that you are offering your prospects an opportunity to change their lives for the better. If you don’t ask, nothing can change for them—you’re taking that opportunity away from them. If you ask apologetically, they may question the validity of your solution or even your credibility. If you know you are offering the right solution and you communicate it in a way the prospect understands, you can look them straight in the eye and ask.

If you need help simplifying your message and being understood by prospects and clients, get the 2-CD set or mp3, Say It So It Makes a Difference – hear hundreds of stories, analogies and power phrases, all designed to help you communicate better with prospective and current clients.

If you’re referrable, asking for referrals is not offensive

The same holds true when you are asking for referrals, maybe even more so. That’s because you’ve proven your worth. If you’ve worked at providing your clients with an exceptional experience, you’ve become referrable. Your clients won’t take offense if you ask them for a referral. They may say no or that they’re not comfortable doing so, but you still earned the right to ask—unapologetically. When you let your clients know you would like to meet more people just like them, they might even feel flattered. But, if you don’t ask, it will take you a lot longer to build your business.

Successful advisors are great at self-promotion, meeting people, and sharing their value proposition—unapologetically. Anything having to do with marketing and business development requires you to put yourself “out there,” realizing some people will reject you. But, if you’re passionate about what you do and you have confidence in your abilities, you don’t have to be sorry for letting people know what you do. You won’t know if they will be interested until you ask. The worst that can happen is they politely say no.

Related: Advisors Must be Able to Lead Clients Through Emotional Struggles