If you’re looking for new ideas to help build a referral-based practice, consider this one: printing business cards noting both your contact info and that of a center of influence: a loyal client or fellow advisor with whom you exchange referral leads. Then give those cards to the referral source to hand out to people they meet.
Vicki Writer, a state sales manager for AIA Australia and the founder and director of Dare to Achieve, a company specializing in the development of human potential, imparted these and other ideas for securing referrals during an afternoon workshop of the Million Dollar Roundtable (MDRT), being held in Anaheim, June 9-13.
“If you want people to be talking positively about you and your business, this is a very good strategy,” said Writer, who also runs runs a website to assist advisers and other industry professionals increase sales. “Word-of-mouth referrals far outweigh any advertising.”
A key first step in building a referral-based practice, said Writer, is “cloning” or articulating one’s ideal client: defining the attributes of prospects–their type of business, age, occupation, salary and net worth, marital status, location, among other criteria, that are likely to increase sales. Also to be weighed are the investment, retirement and risk products that prospects will likely buy.
“It’s not until we can get really clear on what our ideal clients look like that we can then go back and put a plan of replication in place,” said Writer.
She added that many advisors, after cross-referencing a database of existing clients against their ideal client profile, are “quite surprised” to learn that many of their clients don’t fit the profile. Those who do conform to the profile, she added, are prime sources for referrals because they likely know individuals who, like themselves, also fit the profile.
“If we are looking to develop more medical professionals [as clients] and we have medical professionals in our database, then these are the ideal people to be getting more referrals from to attract more medical professionals,” she said. “Self-employed people know more self-employed people. Accountants know more accountants.”
“Use these people as our personal marketing board of advice,” Writer added. “Utilize their knowledge, their skill, their insights, their expertise to help design marketing material that is going to be applicable, relevant, and interesting to that particular demographic.”
Writer said that advisors should then determine whether these clients would be willing to handwrite a “with compliments” slip outlining and recommending the advisor’s services. The recommendation can be attached to marketing materials developed with their assistance and sent to prospects in a personally addressed envelope.