It’s no secret referrals are the best leads, and the best type of referral is the unsolicited referral. So how do you get those?

First, you have to create the “wow” experience for clients. The primary reason we lose clients is they feel they don’t hear from us as often as they should. We need to over-service our clients. For example, I believe every client needs to receive a phone call from our office every three months. I also use newsletters, cards and whatever else it takes to stay in touch.

Twice a year, we hold referral appreciation parties. If they referred someone to me in the last six months and we actually met, whoever referred them gets to come to the party. It’s usually a themed event, and we raffle off something significant. For example, one of our parties was held at a winery, and the gift was a trip to wine country in California. Once you do a couple of these, people start asking themselves, “Who can I refer, so I can go to the next event?”

Another effective technique is to take five or six of your top clients and create a “board of directors.” Tell them you need their help in determining how we can improve our client service and how we can grow our business. If you prove receptive to their ideas, they begin to feel like they’re your partners in this enterprise. Ultimately, as you talk about how to grow the business, the topic of referrals comes up as a natural part of the conversation. As board members, they feel obligated to begin referring business themselves. And because they are your top clients, you get the kind of referrals you really want.

Some of you are thinking, “I can’t afford any of this.” I want to challenge that way of thinking. One misconception many financial advisors share is they think of themselves as salespeople. In fact, we are business owners.

As advisors, we’re taught to tell our clients to pay ourselves first. We need to do the same thing as business owners. Pay your business first. The first 10% to 20% of your revenue shouldn’t even hit your checkbook. Put it back into the coffers and use it for marketing and lead generation to grow your business. That’s what grew my business.

There are numerous ways to improve your lead generation. My point is you need to do something. Above all, make the commitment to stick with it, and change your techniques, until it works. If you resolve not to give up, you make any lead generation system successful.

Read David’s full article, The 3 Keys to Practice Growth.

David J. Scranton, CLU, CFP, CFA, received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Trinity College and went on to receive a master’s degree in the science of financial services. He is president of Scranton Financial Group and The Advisors’ Academy. Scranton can be reached at Scranton Financial Group, 1921 Boston Post Road, Westbrook, CT 06498. Telephone: 860-399-8202.