Each time you sit with a client for a review, you should be talking about referrals. Of course there’s a right and a wrong way to do this, and you never want to come across as needy, so don’t ask for referrals directly. Flip the conversation around by telling them you’re willing to accept their referrals. This method works because it positions you as a generous professional rather than a needy salesperson. Here’s what you might say: “As you know, I’m very selective about the clients I take on because my first priority is to my existing clients. That being said, I want you to know that we have a special program for people referred by our clients. If you know someone who could benefit from our services, we’ll provide them with a portfolio analysis – kind of like a second opinion from a doctor – at no cost. So if you know a friend, neighbor, business contact, or family member like that, please let me know, and I’ll gladly reserve time in my schedule for them.”
8. Reward Referral Behavior
Every referral – regardless of the quality – needs to be celebrated. At the very least, send a handwritten thank you note to the referrer. If the person they referred becomes a client, take an additional step by sending a thoughtful gift. Always follow up with the referrer to let them know whether you were able to help the person they referred. Have a special dinner with your top clients each year, and acknowledge each person who sent you a referral. The more you reinforce and reward referral behavior from your clients, the more referrals you’ll receive.
The bottom line is that if you want to build a referral-based practice, you can’t rely on a single source for referrals. Strategic planning and effort are required. As legendary football coach Vince Lombardi put it: “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” So as long as you’re willing to put in the work, a thriving referral-based practice may be right around the corner for you!
Robert Sofia is a best-selling author, award winning public speaker, and financial industry thought leader. He has developed marketing strategies for Fortune 500® companies, personally coaches hundreds of financial professionals nationwide, and is the cofounder and C.O.O of Platinum Advisor Strategies.