In some cases, the conversation described above is all it takes to open the referral floodgates, but frequently, more effort is required. A practice we strongly advocate is that of facilitating introductions through intimate social events, by inviting clients to educational meetings, and through a variety of other means. (You can read more about some of the strategies we recommend here) In this way, you can make it fun and convenient for your clients to introduce people to you in a non-threatening setting that benefits everyone. We frequently encourage our clients to bring guests by printing it directly on the invitations we send out.
You may be further helped to appreciate the value of our approach by imagining you are friends with the most sought after and capable attorney in your city. If another friend suddenly needs legal assistance, what will you do? Will you not call this high-powered attorney and ask them to accept your friend’s case? Will you not be grateful for their willingness to do so? Similarly, we desire to position ourselves as the most capable and sought after financial advisors in our area. We want our clients to know that our first desire is to help their loved ones - not to grow our own business. Graciously accepting their referrals, rather than asking for them, sends this message in a powerful way.
In conclusion, I would like to cite the findings of another industry leader, The Oechsli Institute. According to their recent research, 83% of affluent investor-respondents to their study said they had a negative feeling about being approached for referrals. Why on earth would you ever do something to make 83% of your clients feel uncomfortable?
Asking for referrals may work for some people, some of the time, but the approach described above is working better for us and the hundreds of financial advisors who belong to our Platinum Advisor Strategies program. We are confident it can work for you too!
What do you think? How are you generating referrals?
Thomas Fross is co-founder of Fross & Fross Wealth Management and president of Platinum Advisor Strategies, a marketing and practice management program for financial advisors. He also co-authored the practice management book "Members Only - A Powerful New Way to Grow Your Practice."