We’ve all heard the stories of advisors who have successfully grown their firms with dramatic strategies: radio shows, seminars, a newspaper column, referrals from accountants or a tight niche focus (executives at a large local company, vineyard owners, dry cleaners, widows, etc.).
Now, don’t get me wrong: these are all great, successful strategies. The problem is that for the most part they are either based on a skill that most advisors don’t have (broadcasting, public speaking, writing, etc.), shared experiences (a former dentist working with dentists, etc.), or resulted from an opportunity that presented itself, rather than by design (most client “niches”).
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What about advisors who don’t have “media” skills or haven’t discovered a client “niche”? Basically, they’re stuck with the old standby: referrals from existing clients. We all know that’s how most successful advisory firms were built. As we also all know, there are many strategies for getting more client referrals, with “just ask for them” at the top of the list. While there’s rarely any harm in asking, we’ve found a very simple strategy that virtually guarantees client referrals.
But before I tell you the secret to unlimited referrals, let me warn you: you’re going to hate this idea, and most of you won’t even try it. In fact, I can divide my advisor-client list into two columns: those who do this (and are turning clients away), and those who don’t, and have anemic referral rates and/or fired me over the recommendation.
Okay, are you ready for the secret to life, the universe, and advisory firm growth? Here it is: client perks.
Well, get over it. (In “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” the answer was “42,” so it could be worse.) One of the fundamental truths of life is that people love free stuff. The more affluent they are, the more they love it. Keep in mind, this doesn’t have to make sense to you; it just has to work.