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How to get referrals without asking

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Over the past few years, I’ve talked to numerous advisors and many successful ones who simply don’t like to ask for referrals. They’ve developed a relationship with a client and don’t feel “comfortable” asking for his or her help.

So what’s an advisor to do who doesn’t like to ask for a referral? Marketing guru Maribeth Kuzmeski identifies two keys ways in her latest book: “…And the Clients Went Wild!” Read on to find out what she has to say about “receiving recommendations” from clients without having to ask.

Following are Kuzmeski’s two proven referral-generating strategies:


  • Don’t Miss the Boat: One of the most successful strategies I’ve seen for giving clients a reason to immediately refer is an event called, “Don’t Miss the Boat.” It’s similar to a client-appreciation event, but the only people invited are those clients who have referred others to your firm. It has consistently produced referrals of 40 or more per event — event from high net-worth individuals.

You begin with a sample script to introduce the event, letting them know this is “not-to-be-missed.” And you close by telling them, “Don’t miss the boat because the only people we’re inviting are those who have referred clients to us by [event date].”

This event gives clients an immediate incentive to think of someone to whom they can recommend your services. Yes, it might be a little gimmicky, but I have never seen it fail.

  • The Fuel Card: The manner in which you thank clients who refer can actually generate even more customers. If you send a small gift that the referrer can use right away, it will prompt those same clients to give more referrals. For example, if you send a $20 fuel card as a referral thank you, when do you think clients will use it? Right away. And who do you think they’ll be thinking of when they use it? You. Most of your good clients want to recommend you to others — they may just need a friendly reminder. This fuel card provides them with an immediate reminder of you.


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