While I have a specific process I teach to help people acquire new clients through referrals and introductions, there is no one way. There’s no one way to engage with your clients. There’s no one way to ask for referrals. And there’s no one way to get introduced. We’ll call these “referral shades of grey.” While the title is tongue-in-cheek, I hope you find the following 10 “un-commandments of referrals” helpful.
(1) Great client service is enough to create referrals.
Some people, erroneously, think thatif they serve the heck out of their clients, their clients will give them plenty of referrals. This is actually half-true. We do have to service our clients well — create great value — to become referable. But a 2013 study from Advisor Impact demonstrates that only 20 percent of satisfied clients give referrals. To get abundant referrals, we have to create engaged clients.
(2) YOU have to be the one to ask for referrals.
Generally, the person with the best relationship with the referral source should be the one to ask for referrals. But I’ve seen situations where someone else has done the asking — with some success. My financial advisor, for instance, often brings in his business partner to do the asking. He’s just not comfortable with it (try as I might to help him) and they’ve learned that his partner asking is better than no one asking.
(3) You can’t ask for referrals anymore.
This is a bad perspective being touted by so-called sales and marketing experts. To quote my high school basketball coach, “Horse Manure!” They are right in the fact that you should not ask for referrals with the old, you-centered methodology.
When asking for referrals, it should be from a client-centered perspective — about the value you bring. Second, when speaking with clients, we should be favoring the word “introductions.” After all, what we really want is a good connection to our new prospect.
(4) YOU have to be the one to contact the new prospect.
It’s definitely more effective to have you make that first contact with the new referral prospect. In most cases, your client is referring you, not someone else on your team. However, it might be enough for you to call (or email) the prospect as the first contact and leave a message, telling them that your assistant will be reaching out to them to set up a phone appointment.
(5) You have to ask for referrals in person.
It’s always best to ask in person. You can see body language and you usually have more time. Second best is to ask over the phone, which can work nicely if you’re only looking for one specific introduction.
Email or LinkedIn is least desirable, but can work if you have a really good relationship with your referral source. Try to do it in person as much as possible.
(6) Your first meeting has to be in person.