photo of consultant Angie Herbers

Advisor growth strategies come in three forms: organic, inorganic and a  combination of the two.

Organic growth — the most common — includes client referrals and marketing. Inorganic growth leverages mergers and acquisitions to add another firm and its existing clients to the fold.

Which growth strategy is right for you? Every firm needs to make that decision for itself.

But one strategy that is decidedly wrong is having no growth strategy. The trouble with not knowing what growth strategy you’re aiming for is that your firm is then subject to everything from cognitive biases to personal wants, a current mood and even whether you ate breakfast or not on a given day — rather than what the firm needs for its growth.

If you have no growth strategy, here are two areas to focus on that can  dramatically improve your revenue.

1. Improve Your Client Referral Rate

Every firm should shoot for an annual client referral rate of 40% or more — meaning 40% of your existing clients should send at least one referral your way each year. I know 40% sounds high, but it’s possible because I’ve witnessed firms reach it multiple times.

Improving your client referral rate begins with improving your client experience in at least two areas:

Ask for referrals without asking. Part of the reason clients often don’t offer referrals is because they don’t know whether or not you can take on more clients. In your annual meetings, stress how much you appreciate your clients — and also let them know you’re growing.

By putting the idea in their mind that you are actively growing, you make it clear that your door is open to referrals.

Map your client experience. A great experience is more than a feeling; you need to know what you do so you can communicate it. Mapping out each interaction with your firm helps to create a consistent experience among every client you serve.

When every client gets a great experience, you multiply your chances to receive referrals from clients who love working with you.

2. Increase Your Close Rate

Many advisors obsess over how many leads they’re getting, but all the leads in the world won’t make a difference if you can’t close them. Here are two specific and simple (yet often ignored) ways to improve the number of prospects you close.

Ask for a meeting. Take every prospective client’s email that you have now, put them on a single list, and email all of them (separately, of course) to ask them to schedule a meeting with you.

You’d be surprised at how many prospective clients will turn into clients if you help them schedule an appointment with you, rather than simply continue to send content they may not be reading.

Ask for a decision. Just because you got an introductory meeting doesn’t mean you’re done asking.

Many advisors fail to a persuade a prospect to make the decision to work with their firm, even after providing some free upfront work, like a financial plan. They wait for the client to decide on their own.

Be clear and straightforward. Simple questions like “What can we do next to get you started?” or “Are you ready to work with us?” can provide that necessary nudge prospects often need to become a client.

Making small changes to how you communicate with both your current and prospective clients can have a transformative impact on your firm’s growth trajectory. You don’t have to spend months or even weeks getting ready; you can implement these ideas today.