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Should you prospect during the COVID-19 pandemic? Of course you should, but you need the right strategy.

In this article series, we’ll discuss four campaigns you can run from home with just a few resources. Let’s start with a question you may think is obvious. Should you ever ask for referrals?

You say, “Of course. I just don’t do it.”

I say, “No.”  Listen to your gut. It’s telling you the truth.

Asking for referrals does not work because it generates names, not referrals. Rarely do these names become clients.

Asking for referrals puts clients on the spot and makes them feel uncomfortable.

Advisors hate it and won’t do it. If you were doing it all, knock it off.

Instead, I’m going to show you how to promote referrals.

What to Do

I define “promoting referrals” as “gently and persistently reminding your clients that you value and accept their referrals.”

Say this: Bob, if someone new joins your Rotary Club, and if they might need a local financial advisor, would you feel comfortable in suggesting they give me a call?  I would love to have some more clients just like you.

Not this: Bob, who do you know in your Rotary Club I could call?

There is some magic in this approach. Bob may never call you about a new member of the Rotary Club.

But three weeks later, he may call you to suggest you call one the engineers he has just hired.  

When you promote referrals, you are planting seeds. They can spout in surprising places.

Make It a Habit

“Promoting referrals” needs to become a habit. Here’s how.

  1. Thoroughly understand referral marketing. I have compiled a tremendous online resource guide, “Referrals Without Asking.”  
  2. Pick out 25 smaller clients who love you. Smaller is better to start with.
  3. Practice. Follow the procedure. Promote referrals to 25 clients, as outlined below. You will never forget it. You will do it forever. Don’t be surprised if, in about six months, your number of referrals has doubled.

Practice, Practice Practice

I call it the “neighbors referral procedure.” Once you are comfortable with it, go to my “Referrals without Asking” site and review “Referral Conversations.” Practice these conversations as well.

As a side benefit of learning how to promote referrals, you will develop a great prospecting list. Without even knowing it, you are deploying the “look-alike principle,” which states, “Your best prospect is someone who looks just like a good client.” 

Next-door neighbors are about as “look-alike” as you can get.

The process is simple: 

  • Go to whitepages.com.
  • Look up a client via the reverse address tab.
  • Jot down the addresses and names of two or three neighbors.
  • Call your client. Get a good conversation going.
  • Follow this script: Note the word not. Punch that word.

Script: Hello, Bob/Sally. A couple of your neighbors came up on one of my market lists. I thought I would check with you and see if either or even both would not make good clients.

I don’t want to call people my current clients would not recommend. Do you have just a second for me to run these names by you?

At (address), my information shows (neighbor name). In your opinion, is s/he someone kind of like you who I might enjoy doing business with? And what about (neighbor name) at (address)?

If neither name is accurate: I’m glad to know my information is not correct. That’s why I wanted to check with you first.  

If either of your real neighbors ever do mention they might not be happy with their advisor, would you mention my name?  

Response: May I drop a couple of my business cards in the mail to you just in case?

If one or both names are accurate and might be worth contacting: Thanks so much for this info. Of course, I would never mention our relationship without your permission.  

By the way, if either of your neighbors ever does say they might not be happy with their advisor, would you mention my name? 

Response: May I drop a couple of my business cards in the mail to you just in case?

Next, enter valid names into your CRM. When this COVID mess is over, invite your clients to attend an event. 

Call your client and ask, “Do you think this might be something your neighbor Fred might like to attend?” 

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Bill Good is CEO and founder of Bill Good Marketing. His book “Hot Prospects” is No. 59 on the 88 Best Prospecting Books of All Time list. It’s available on Amazon.