The answer is simple. You need to be able to be worth introducing when an ideal client isn’t actively looking for what you sell.
This is the biggest problem with referrals for financial advisors.
Don’t get this twisted. I 100% love surprise referrals. Those referrals that happen unsolicited and are introductions to ideal clients that miraculously are in the market for our products and services and, most importantly, want to meet with us because a client referred them to us.
We all know that prospective clients that are referred to us are much more likely to become actual clients and that the time from introduction to business being transacted is far less than normal.
The sad reality is that this type of referral, while amazing, is almost impossible to predict and therefore really, really hard to count on as a foundation for your year after year business growth and security. Some of my coaching clients, after years of tremendous service and relationship development with some of their clients, are almost at a point where we can assume a certain amount of referral business every year. This is great, but we aren’t hiring new staff based upon it.
Let’s change to what is essential for getting better referrals.
For years I was an award winning franchisee of Business Network International and ran thousands of weekly meetings for members of my referral groups. What do you think was the number one reason that it all worked?
The weekly #networking meeting and the personal accountability to show up and give referrals…not just be a referral predator.
The best members, the ones that give and get the most, were the ones (99% of the time) that showed up for almost every meeting and that spent extra time making sure they were getting to know the other members of their referral group well enough to be able to introduce them better.
The key wasn’t how well you spoke or even how great you were at giving…it was the weekly meeting and your consistency. Over time, everything else would happen as a result and your introductions would move from reactionary to prescriptive.
Key members would start introducing you to ideal clients in your target market because they had personal evidence (your behavior and consistency in the meetings) that you were worth meeting even if their friend or business associate wasn’t in the market.
The assumption on their part wasn’t IF you should be their financial advisor…it was just a question of WHEN. Thus, they were confident in advocating for you being introduced to them as soon as convenient.
This can be directly applied, in a very specific way, to your individual financial services practice right now.
How can you increase the frequency and power of your client relationships so that you are viewed as someone that it is essential (and valuable) for ideal prospects to meet even if they aren’t actively looking for what you do?
- Transition to a higher frequency communication strategy with your clients around giving. This is where I help clients develop a concierge model of referral giving. Your clients, the most likely to refer you, will love hearing from you when you aren’t just doing things you get paid for. (this is like making your best clients into a very specialized referral group without the weekly meeting and pressure to perform from anyone except you).
- Start with clients that have already referred you.
- Remember that a referral is an introduction and not a sale. When you grasp this you will open up the floodgates to better and more fun business growth now and in your future. Stop making your clients do all the work for you when it comes to sales.
- Ask your best clients how you can make it easier and more comfortable to introduce you to ideal clients (note: you need to be able to define an ideal client and why you are worth introducing to them beyond what you get paid for).
- Understand that the sales process is often a multi-touch, multi-partner evolution and that you have to avoid thinking like a sniper (one shot one kill) and instead look at layering multiple communications in a logical and realistic cadence to make the process of ‘being available to buy from’ as low friction and enjoyable as possible for both your prospective clients and your referring clients.
Strategic use of social media from a referral mindset (giving) is a massive accelerator for increasing the frequency of communication with your best clients without burning them out by incessantly asking them for referrals and/or more money. My coaching with clients around social begins with connecting with and communicating more with their current clients as the number one priority.
I was just working through this with a really cool new client of mine this Monday and as part of our onboarding process we discovered that he had dozens of clients in one of the big universities in his area. In short, any new connection he makes with professionals at that university online will be influenced by how many current connections he already has. Every time I see a connection request on this platform I see how many connections we share…this is important.
One of the early steps in my #sales process, by referral, is to see if I can get socially connected to the prospective client without pitching myself to them.
“Joe told me about you and I wanted to see if you would be willing to connect with me here on LI…I promise not to send you a bunch of continuous and awful spammed sales pitches.”
Be patient and be led by your client's relationship with the prospective client. Be curious and resist the temptation to move too fast. Of course, if the prospective client decides they want to accelerate the buying process…graciously allow them to buy.