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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Ask for introductions, not referrals

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Agents and financial advisors say the best way to build your practice is by referrals, but I know I have been reluctant to ask for referrals because I am afraid my clients will say no. According to an article I read recently, 83 percent of clients said they are comfortable referring friends and family to their advisor, but only 4 percent said they would take action and provide a referral.

Client confidentiality may be a problem, which indicates a lack of trust. If this is the case, we haven’t done a very good job with our client, and we need to determine how to resolve this issue. 

See also: 7 tips to gain trust

But what if we ask for the referral in a different way? If we ask, “Who do you know who could use our services?,” we might expect an answer of “no one.” Instead, maybe we should ask them who they use for various services.

Most of my clients are business owners who use many different vendors in their business, so I ask who their vendors are. Who do they buy their trucks from? Where do they buy their uniforms? Who are the raw material vendors for their firm? Who provides their IT services? Who are their law and CPA firms? Where do they buy their office supplies? Who owns these various firms?

Then I ask for an introduction to the owners of these firms, not just a referral. Provide your client a sample letter of introduction and ask them to send it to the company owners. You can then call the company owners at their place of business and ask for the appointment to review the services you provide, which may be of value to them and their company. 

For more from Marvin Feldman, see:

Selling to the Middle Market — What to Keep in Mind

5 External Trends That Will Affect Us

A New Norm