We were trained to ask clients for referrals. Yet, the word “referral” is an industry term that carries a problematic salesy connotation. It’s like saying, “Do you know anyone I could sell something to?” Fortunately, there are several ways agents and financial advisors can ask for referrals that doesn’t sound like a sales pitch.
- Do you know anyone else I might be able to help? This is a classic approach that has been around for years. Your client has a problem. Perhaps they are wondering how to put money aside for a grandchild’s education in a way that doesn’t allow it to be spent on a family holiday instead. You introduce them to college savings accounts and explain how they work, and they’re thrilled. They likely know other grandparents in the same position.
- Who else would like to learn about (topic)? Your friend or client has called you with a question. They heard about donor-advised funds as an intermediary vehicle for making charitable contributions. You explain a great feature is the ability to put money in, counting the gift as a charitable contribution, yet not needing to disperse the funds immediately. They might be preparing for the upcoming capital campaign at the hospital, so they think this is a great idea! You can then ask who else is in the same position and would benefit from learning what they just learned.
- Who in your office is retiring this year? This is the specific referral. If you ask, “Who can I help?” their mind often goes blank. “Who is retiring?” is more specific. “Who is retiring in the next six months?” is even more specific. “Who is taking early retirement?” is specific too. If you went into a clothing store and said, “What have you got?” the salesperson doesn’t know where to start. If you say, “I’m looking for a double-breasted suit in navy blue,” they know exactly what fits your request.
- Entertaining. You invite a few single clients over to your house for a summer barbecue, and you let them know they can bring a guest. As you’re talking to the guests, they’ll talk about that they do. Your client likely presells you without any prompting, and now you have met their friends who you may see again. This strategy also works if you are invited to their barbecue and meet their friends.
- Introductions to organizations. Your clients may be fully invested with you. They might, however, have indirect access to more money they don’t think about. For example, they might serve on the board of a community organization. There might be an endowment or foundation that funds scholarships. That money might need management. If they already use professional money managers, there is likely a finance committee considering additional managers. Your client might be able to make the initial introductions.
Asking for referrals can be easy for both the financial advisor and the client if you know how to word the request.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. His book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” is available on Amazon.
For more ideas about referrals:
- Listen to “Generating the right referrals while offering incentives” for ideas about how gifts can enhance relationships and encourage referrals.
- Read “How can you get referrals from your existing clients?” to learn how following up can generate referrals.
- Watch “3 words that generate client referrals” to see more from Bryce Sanders about referrals. (MDRT member exclusive)