Q. I want to pursue getting referrals to affluent prospects. What suggestions can you provide to pursue this market?
A. Developing a process for getting high net-worth referrals is a wonderful way to increase sales. An expert in this area is Frank Maselli, author of a best-selling book on the topic. His approach is really targeted to financial planners, so I am including only those that are particularly relevant for the long-term care world.
Strategy #1. Develop a written referral plan.
Step 1. Identify 20 clients you want referrals from.
Step 2. Gather information. Build a Referral Intelligence File on each one. Use a loose-leaf notebook so you can add pages as your database grows. You’re looking for links to prospective referrals: Who in the client’s world might benefit most from your skill and advice? And who would you most likely enjoy having as a client?
Step 3. Identify 20 top prospects you would like to be referred to. This intelligence gathering process takes effort, but within a month or so you will have created a thick binder filled with critical data on your top clients.
Strategy #2. Provide excellent service.
Strategy #3. Stay top-of-mind.
Stay on the client’s personal radar screen in positive and creative ways that help them remember you exist and are worthy of referrals. I call this “The 44 Touch System,” meaning you must touch the client at least 44 times a year.
Touches can include phone calls, emails, newsletters, events, workshops, seminars, conference calls, webinars, hard-copy research reports, white papers, birthday and holiday cards, etc.
Strategy #4. Address the risks and emotions of referrals.
Strategy #5. Build your brand identity.These clients and centers of influence run huge personal and professional risks when referring people to you—from simple embarrassment to severe financial danger if you screw up. Reduce their fear by talking to them about this concern.
Strategy #6. Use the event referral.
Seminars are the typical venue, but you can do a host of “lifestyle events” such as cooking classes, spa days and golf outings.
Strategy #7. Use a Referral Guide.
This fantastic psychological positioning tool sends all the right messages about the way you engage in the whole referral process. It also helps you to expand your client’s story-telling ability beyond a two-sentence conversation.
Next month’s column will explain how to create and use this guide.