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Portfolio > ETFs > Broad Market

5 reasons why you don't get more referrals

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As a financial advisor, rep, broker, agent, or planner, without generating referral-based business, you will fail. It’s as simple as that. Of course there are exceptions, but not many.

So what is it that gets in the way of getting more referrals. Or any referrals, for that matter?

It’s the pressure, man. The pressure of writing more cases, dropping more tickets, getting more accounts, selling more products, accumulating more assets, and being in front of more people.

With all the pressure to hit your numbers and generate commission, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. And what is important? If I had to guess, I would say relationships. But here’s the thing: It’s easy to forget about the importance of relationships when you’re simply looking to hit your numbers. And without focusing on relationships, it makes it very difficult to make a sale, grow your book, and ultimately help people. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Here are five things that may be preventing you from doing all of the above.


1. You have the wrong perspective about referrals.

It’s just semantics, but a referral is whatever you want it to be. If you want a referral to simply be the name of someone to cold call then so be it. If that’s your expectation, then that’s what ye shall receive. Here’s a quick example. Many years ago, I attended weekly meetings at a networking group. This was the type of group that only allows one of each type of profession as a member — one financial advisor, one residential realtor, and so on. In this group, the realtor would request FSBOs (For Sale By Owner) contacts as “referrals.” The FSBOs weren’t necessarily in the market for a realtor, but that was the request and therefore the result. The guy got lots of FSBOs, but not a lot of closed business. As a financial advisor, if you’re in the market for anyone that doesn’t already have an advisor, that’s what you’ll get. Then, you’ll have to work really hard to “sell them.”

So what’s my definition of a referral? An introduction to a specific individual that’s already in the market for what I’m offering. Again, ask and ye shall receive.


2. You aren’t specific enough about your target market.

Do you even have a target market? A target market should represent whom you serve best and therefore wish to serve most. In short, your target market is where you do your best work. The more specific you are about describing your target marketplace, the more gravity (opportunities coming to you) you will create.

By the way, small businesses, high net worth individuals, the affluent marketplace, pre-retirees, families, and “everyone needs what I do” are not good examples of a target market. Each of the segments I described is much too broad. Pick one or two (no more!) markets and try to be more specific. For example, what type of ‘small businesses’? What industry, profession, market segment, niche, geography, demographic, etc.? As soon as you can get down to the specifics, it’s much easier to figure out (from a networking mindset) where you might go, what you might say, and with whom you might want to meet. It makes your marketing so much easier. That is, if you’re into that sort of thing.


3. You don’t have a networking mindset.

A networking mindset is all about looking to establish better relationships with those that you know and like, as well as those you meet. Networking is creating a WE dynamic with the people you interact with most. How can WE help one another? How can WE refer each other business? Rinse, repeat! And if you’re a true networker, you’re always looking to meet new people and add to your network.

Consider who your target market might be. If you’re not sure, see the previous page. Once you have that figured out, think about the professions that come in contact with your target market, or even better, sell to your target market without competing with you. Where do you need to go to meet these folks? Maybe it’s time to have a WE conversation.


4. You don’t have a strong Call to Action.

If you can be specific about the type of business you want, you have a Call to Action. If you can’t, you may have challenges getting more and better referrals. Without having a refined target market, it may be difficult to forge a strong Call to Action.

Since my target market is the financial services industry (wire houses, broker dealers, insurance carriers, mutual fund/annuity companies, independent marketing organizations, banks, etc.), it makes it easy for me to present a Call to Action.

“I’m always looking to meet or be introduced to managers for companies like [fill in the blank]. Any advice on how to make these types of connections would be very helpful to me!”

Remember, don’t forget about the WE dynamic. If you help others with their Call to Action, they’ll help you right back. That’s how it works.


5. You don’t have a good “connection.”

I’m not quite sure if it’s a good thing or bad thing, but not everyone you meet will like you. Harsh but true. Accept it and move on! Focus on those that share your values, most of your opinions, your vision and, most importantly, people that you truly like. You don’t have to root for the same sports teams, but if you feel a connection toward them, it’s very likely they will have a feel for you. If not, don’t force it.

Establishing likeability and common ground (chemistry) is the first phase in making a true connection. Without chemistry, nothing else matters.

For more from Michael Goldberg, see:

10 secrets to success

8 knock-out branding ideas

How you present yourself matters


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