3 Ways to Ask for Referrals

All advisors love it when clients recommend them to family and friends. And by this point, most of you know that referrals are the most reliable sources of new business.

Either way, this aspect of the advisory business is so important that a refresher course is always welcome.

Remember, the goal here is never to create homework for your clients or yourself, for that matter. You’re not demanding “referrals.” What you want is to be the person your clients recommend.

1.) Don’t torture your clients.

Asking your clients to list people they know who can benefit from your services is a form of torture for them and for you. Do the homework yourself. When a client comes in, create a list of people he or she knows that would fit your ideal client profile. Then during the meeting, ask for specific introductions. To create the list of introductions, look at your clients’ social networks. Start with people they are connected to on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Focus on people they may work with, went to school with or have interests in common -- think book clubs as well as golf clubs.

2.) Have a method to your madness.

If you have trouble asking for referrals, your clients may feel equally awkward advertising your services to their friends and colleagues. Depending on a given client’s temperament, you can offer three different ways to help with the introduction:

  • If they don’t feel comfortable broaching the subject themselves, ask them if you can reach out on their behalf and mention their name as an existing client.

  • Should they want to approach the friend themselves, provide a thumb drive that contains information about your firm, including an article or blog you have written that would be of personal interest to the prospect. This way, your client doesn’t have to sell you. All he or she needs to do is deliver the “message.”

  • Finally, if your client is comfortable with the idea, offer to take all three of you out for lunch, a round of golf or a client event. This rewards your client for the referrals and gives you a no-pressure context for demonstrating your expertise and “bedside manner.”

3.) Be consistent and thankful.

In all of your communications with clients, in person, on the phone or via email, make sure you thank them for working with you and remind them about the problems you solve along with your willingness to have a free, no-obligation meeting with anyone they think would benefit from your services.

This is the core call to action in any referral-based prospecting plan. Keep it in front of your clients, and when they encounter someone in their lives who needs financial advice, odds are good they’re think of you.

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