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Five steps to gaining referrals

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Fifty percent of your clients will offer referrals if you would only ask.

But … there is only a 17 percent chance you will ask for referrals. Here are some important tips to get those referrals:

  1. Be upfront about why you need a referral. “I love working with you. I am trying to build my practice through my best clients. Who do you know who could benefit from the kind of relationship we have had so far?”
  2. The personal touch. If you can learn some personal information about the referred lead, you will clock 10 more minutes on the phone and book more appointments. For example, I was once referred to an insurance company executive who was in charge of booking speakers for an annual convention. I knew he had a baby girl approximately the same age as mine, so I talked about my daughter. Fifteen minutes later, he booked me for his company’s convention.
  3. Expect to get 250 referrals from each client. Each of your clients knows at least 250 people to whom they could refer you. So at the end of the closing interview, ask about the clubs and associations, churches and professional groups they belong to. Ask them to introduce you to members of their golf club, for example.
  4. Listen for referrals. The best referrals always come when your clients talk about their friends. At the end of the conversation, you can ask, “Would you mind introducing John to me? I would love to meet him.”
  5. The comfort response. Find out ahead of time whether a client is likely to refer their friends to you. Ask, “What would I have to do over the next few weeks to make you feel comfortable enough to introduce me to your friends?”

The two most frequent rejections you will hear when asking for a referral:

  1. “I don’t know anyone.” When your clients mention they don’t know anyone, they are only filtering their contacts for you. It’s possible that none of their friends has asked for a referral to a financial advisor recently. You could respond by explaining that the average portfolio needs to be reviewed every 6 months and you would like to develop relationships with their contacts in order to tend to their future needs.
  2. “Let me call them first.” This is most likely just a reflex response on the client’s part. Ideally, the client will call the referral first, but unfortunately, the client rarely follows through. So you need to try to ensure that this happens. The response to this “refusal” is to thank them and say, “Who were you thinking of? Can I speak to them after you chat with them? Could I have their phone number so I can be prepared?”

When it comes to growing your business, it’s hard to beat client referrals, and the best way to get new business is from old business.