Advisors love it when clients recommend them to family and friends. After all, referrals are the most reliable sources of new business. This aspect of the advisory business is important enough to warrant an occasional refresher course. Here are a few core principles of a referral-based practice:
1. Don’t torture your clients. Asking your clients to list people they know who might benefit from your services may feel to them a little like torture. Do the homework yourself. Create a list of contacts from your clients’ social media networks. Start with their contacts on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Focus on people they may work with, went to school with or have common interests with. Then during a meeting, ask for specific introductions.
2. Have a method to your madness. If you have trouble asking for referrals, your clients may feel equally awkward recommending your services to their friends and colleagues. Depending on a given client’s temperament, you can offer three different ways to facilitate an introduction:
- If they are uncomfortable broaching the subject themselves, ask if you can mention their names as existing clients.
- Should they want to approach the contact themselves, provide a thumb drive with an article or blog you have written that might be of interest to the prospect.
- Finally, offer to take your client and the prospect out for lunch, a round of golf or a client event. This rewards your client for the referral and provides a no-pressure context for demonstrating your expertise.
3. Be consistent and thankful. In all your communications with clients—in person, on the phone or via email—make sure you thank them for working with you and inform them of your willingness to have a free, no-obligation meeting with anyone who might benefit from your services.