The Biggest Mistake in the Predictable Referral Process

Over the past 20+ years I have been teaching, consulting and coaching on #referrals the most consistent flaw I see, across any industry, when it comes to capturing the true power of referrals is research.  Simply put, if you don’t intentionally incorporate this into the beginning of your referral system you will never, ever get to experience what I call #predictablereferrals.

One of the first things I learned when I got my first sales job out of college in the copier business was research.  This was some time ago…

We didn’t have the internet at that time (pause for you to recover from your shock) so the methods of research were either direct or indirect.  Direct research involved cold calling and driving around to find businesses that would be good prospects.  Indirect research was via word of mouth and libraries.  I literally would routinely read industry journals and business newspaper/magazines to find out about new companies and changes. 

Without exception, my word of mouth network was the fastest and most accurate form of research I could do

Fast forward to referrals today.  We still get to experience the human to human power and authenticity of referral introductions combined with the speed and reach of internet/social media platforms.  This synergy of ‘old and new’ is achieved through a foundation principle of predictable referrals:  

Never, ever do HOW to refer before we do WHO to refer

Meaning that we always choose introduction strategies once we know exactly who we want to be introduced to.  Let the amateurs stay in the slow lane of ‘anyone you know who is a’ and instead step into choosing the ideal clients you want to refer to and THEN working with your referral network to design a custom and highly effective introduction strategy.

Side note:  the ‘one shot one kill’ mindset costs most #financialadvisors more $$ than they ever realize.  

Often, the very best ideal clients you desperately want to have buy from you will more likely choose you after several referral strategies are ‘layered’ on to each other.  Perhaps it would be best for the first meeting to be purely social, followed up by a call from a mutual friend suggesting that the two of you meet for a more focused conversation.  Don’t forget that you can have more than one person referring you to an ideal prospect at the same time…you just need to coordinate the efforts like a true professional.

Here are some steps to take in your research process on the road to predictable referrals:

Research your top clients on #socialmedia platforms and the internet 

At a minimum, you need to know as much as possible about how your top 10 use social and if they have a personal/company website you need to be familiar with it.  Are they on social media, are they active, how and who do they interact with on the platforms?

Consistently listen to your clients on social media.

You don’t need to watch everyone else, but you can surely make use of 15-30 minutes per week just watching who and what your clients are interacting with on social media.  You will learn who is talking to them (might be good to see if they are being ‘cyber hunted’ by your competition don’t you think?!?).  I guarantee, if your top 10 are on social media, that you will observe prospective ideal clients for you interacting with them over the next 12 months and then be able to easily create an introduction.  If you need help just reach out.

Research and evaluate potential Centers of Influence (COI’s).

Once you are consistently researching your clients and have an ongoing process that your are following, it's time to add in your COI’s.  First, research to see how your current COI’s are using social media and apply the same strategy with your Top 10, listen and learn.  COI’s usually are willing to refer frequently, but they easily get overwhelmed with their own lives and forget to make all the possible introductions.  It is so easy to call them up and mention that you saw them interacting with someone on @Linkedin and then ask if you could discuss a potential referral introduction.  The same applies for any other social platform.  

Additionally, if you are focused with your use of social media, you can begin to identify and then evaluate potential new COI’s using the same strategy.  The execution phase is different with a new COI.  First you want to watch and observe, then intelligently and effectively engage with their content followed by a connection request (custom) and then a phone call or meeting.

That is probably enough for now and I think you can begin to see how incredibly effective a professional referral system can be for your business as a financial services professional.  Some of you may view this as adding complexity, effort and additional time to your work and I would respectfully challenge that viewpoint. 

What you aren’t doing now is measuring how much time and money you are losing by skipping foundational steps.  

If you want to grow your business and enjoy your life outside work as well…you never save time by working less efficiently.  Doing research effectively, within a predictable referral system, will save you so much time later in the sales process and especially when it comes to getting exponential referrals after they become clients.

If you get anything from this newsletter (I certainly hope you do!) I hope that you are more confident about what you can do to improve in the near and distant future. I get to work with other successful professionals like you every day and am blessed beyond measure as a result. You are capable of more AND you are able to enjoy the process of working towards it as well.  

You can have success and a life that is full of joy. You do need to do some work to make that happen and to keep your life aligned (throw out that trash talk of work life balance…complete and utter nonsense).

What makes you most alive?

What really matters to you?

Why aren’t you doing that as much as possible?

Those three questions are 100% relevant to getting predictable referrals. This is because when you are the most alive…you are the most referrable. People want to introduce people that are enjoying their lives, especially financial advisors, to other people. Your BMW or Porsche isn’t going to make them want to refer you, but your passion for life will do nicely. 

Related: Why Predictable Referrals Are For Professionals and Not Amateurs