Clients often want to provide referrals but don’t know how to do so. Here are some ways to incorporate referral building into your regular activities.
The best referral is one given by a happy client. How do you obtain happy clients? You create happy clients when you exceed their expectations by providing value and experience, which is enhanced by the wow factor. Exceeding client expectations is critical to building a base of happy clients, but it does not automatically result in client advocates who consistently generate referrals.
Most often, happy clients want to promote their advisor but they don’t know how to do so. Advisors need to show their clients how to be advocates on a regular basis. Always look for opportunities to give casual reminders that you are taking new clients. The following are five key strategies to add to your current referral process that will eliminate the gap of a client who wants to help but doesn’t know how.
Clients need to understand clearly and be able to communicate your value and your specialty. Be specific about what you offer and who can benefit from your services. This will make it easier for your clients to tell their family members, friends and centers of influence about you and the fact that you are taking new clients. One way to ask for referrals is to include a note on the back of your business cards. It can read, “The highest compliment we can receive is a referral from our satisfied clients.”
Advisors often think it’s unprofessional to ask for referrals. However, your mindset should be, “I offer great value and I know I can help clients’ friends and family members.” Ask for referrals at a time when your client has had the opportunity to experience your value and excellent service. Once you believe that your clients would be happy to help, ask, “Whom do you know that I could help?”
Make It Easy
Share timely industry and company information through email or snail mail that clients can share with their friends and family. Include on materials a “please feel free to share with friends” note to encourage clients to pass the information along. Anything that leaves your office should include information about you that explains your expertise and value proposition. Be sure it answers the questions:
» What makes you different?
» Who is your target market?
» What areas of finance do you specialize in?
Your website also opens the door to your business, so make sure it represents your brand properly. The top three things your website should do are:
» Communicate your expertise and value proposition.
» Offer timely content.
» Have up-to-date and easy-to-navigate information.
Consider using a letter of introduction to introduce yourself to the person your client referred. It is very important to send a copy to your client and include a carbon copy — or “c.c.” line — with your client’s name at the bottom of the letter. This builds credibility with both the referral and your client. The client will be prompted to have a conversation about you and your service, which increases the chance of securing an initial meeting with the referral.
Show your client a sample of the letter of introduction that you will send. It will put your client at ease and help them better understand your referral process. For example, we work from a template letter and customize it for each referral.
Sometimes it is difficult for clients to think of people to refer to you. Enter client meetings prepared with people or companies within their circles with whom you want to connect. Connecting with clients on social media makes it easy to find second-degree connections that your clients can introduce you to.
Every time a client gives you a referral, you should send a thank-you note to the client, no matter what the outcome is with the referral. It shows professionalism, good manners and gratitude. The goal is to make the entire experience a positive one for both the client and the referral.
Michael Morrow, CFP, is a financial advisor, speaker, author and commentator. He is the
author of The Loyalty Edge and a nine-year member of the Million Dollar Round Table. He may be contacted at [email protected].