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Practice Management > Building Your Business

A referral success story everyone can learn from

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Aquiles Larrea, who attended our Referral Champions Boot Camp for Financial Professionals, has been having great success with our system and recently sent me a letter. I’d like to share this letter with you because it’s a great example of how he used several aspects of our system. I will point them out so you can do the same:

“Dear Bill, I’m writing to tell you about the impact your Referral Boot Camp has had on my business. The bottom line is that my commitment to a referral-based business has changed and so has my business lifestyle. I no longer have to set aside time for other less efficient marketing strategies. Using your system, I’m asking for and getting great referrals. (See Lesson 1 below)

“Here’s a quick success story. After your Boot Camp, I ‘practiced’ – as you suggested – with a few of my lower-level clients, so I could refine my referral process before approaching my top clients. (See Lesson 2)

“When I was ready, I approached one of my Top 5 clients and asked for referrals. While it was clear he didn’t feel threatened or uneasy, his response was, ‘I know a few people. Can I please get back to you on this?’ I gently explored his objection – as you taught us – and knowing his guarded nature, I backed off. (See Lesson 3)

“About two weeks later, this top client called me with a referral to one of his friends. I met with his friend and he became a huge client – a multi-million dollar client ($3.5 million). (See Lesson 4)

“Following your system, I have arranged for this new client and myself to take the referring client to lunch to say ‘thank you.’ Everyone is up for the lunch. I’ve used this technique in the past and it always helps. The last time I did it I received four new referrals. (See Lesson 5)

“From all of this, I’ve learned that even if you don’t get referrals right away, your client hasn’t lost respect for you, and they may even come back to you with referrals later. Thanks for having a huge impact on my business.”

The rest of the story (subsequent e-mail from Aquiles):

“Bill – Remember the story about the great referral I got from my Top 5 client? There’s more to the story.

“The new client is so happy with the work I’ve been doing for him, he’s been telling the his friend – the client who made the referral. Now, the referring client has moved another $1.2 million over to me. I guess this is how it’s supposed to work.”

What can you learn from Aquiles’ story?

Lesson 1: Building a business based almost exclusively on referrals – while clearly the most efficient and most profitable way – does take some time. And it begins with your commitment to the process. Most salespeople dabble in referrals. They know what to do when they trip over them. But most have not committed to using a day-in, day-out systematic process. Aquiles has and his whole lifestyle has changed.

Lesson 2: At our boot camp and seminars, I teach reps not to immediately go out and ask their best and biggest clients. After learning any new technique, it’s best to “practice” on the clients who love you first. You can bumble through it, not hurt the relationship, and get what you want.

Lesson 3: You can’t hammer people for referrals. If you get some resistance, explore their perspective. Learn more about how they feel. Then, if you have to, back off from your request – with confidence. When you explore their position softly – from a place of curiosity – and then respect their position, you actually become more referable.

Lesson 4: It is quite common to ask someone for referrals, not be successful right away, and have them volunteer referrals for you later. Some people will give you referrals right when you ask – on your terms – while others will give them to you later – on their terms. Asking for referrals, but not getting, is a great way to plant seeds for referrals in the future.

Lesson 5: Aquiles really paid attention during the boot camp. This is Step 10 of our system: “Get the new client to thank the old client.” Doing this over lunch (you pick up the tab but the “thanks” comes from both of you) is the most effective way. This validates the giving of referrals for the referral source. And as Aquiles evidences, this lunch can yield more referrals.

Referral Coach International President Bill Cates, CSP, recently released The Referral Advantage(TM) Video Training Program. He is the author of the books, Get More Referrals Now! and Don’t Keep Me a Secret! He also writes a free referral newsletter with 30,000+ subscribers. For more information, contact Bill at [email protected] or visit


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