The litmus test of whether or not you are creating an experience that people find exceedingly valuable is the number of referrals you receive. Acquiring referrals often has less to do with how often you ask and more to do with how you make people feel. Making an introduction happens most frequently when the client is actually surprised by how they feel about you and the sales experience you provide.

The “experience,” as defined by one multimillion-dollar producer, is based on his being the listener for more than 50 percent of any given meeting. He says that the more he bites his tongue, the more he can expect referrals from his client or prospect. Something about listening changes the way people remember him when they leave his office. And this becomes integral to the experience he provides, because he displays caring and interest in the midst of a hectic, distracted world. They simply feel differently about him because of the attention he has paid them.

Another financial professional I know says he and his staff treat clients differently from his competitors. To define this difference, he created a tag line that he, his staff and their marketing department reinforce on a daily basis: “We Listen, We Act, We Care.”

The simple act of listening — really listening to what your clients and prospects say and what goes unsaid — is the foundation of many a successful advisor business. People want to be heard. Be the understanding and trusted advisor they’ve been hoping to meet, and the business will come rolling in.

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Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, LLC, which consults to Fortune 500 firms on strategic marketing planning and business growth. For more information, go to www.redzonemarketing.com.