Everyone knows referrals are the lifeblood of any professional advisory firm. So, how can you be sure you’re maximizing your efforts to be referred? Consider this list a reminder of the big (and little) things that generate referrals.
Explainable niche. Having a niche you can easily explain makes it so much more likely that you will be referred. If you are the number-one resource for a particular industry in your area, it’s probable that you will be referred by others in that niche. The most effective niches have members that communicate regularly with each other.
Client service model. Having a strong niche is not enough by itself. You need exceptional service. Always under promise, and over deliver. Make sure you’re contacting clients regularly and providing the reassurance they need that they’re reaching their financial goals. (For a sample Client Service Matrix, email me at (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Client satisfaction surveys. You need a regular way of gaining feedback from your clients. Use a 1-7 Likert scale and provide clients with the same rating statements over time so you can measure your improvement (or decline). For example: I talk my advisor up to friends and family (rated 1-7). I am very satisfied with my advisors’ level of expertise. I never consider shopping for another financial advisor. In the last year, my advisor educated me on at least one important concept or idea, and so forth.
Marketing platform. You might think … why would I need a marketing platform if I’m planning on building my business through word-of-mouth? Isn’t marketing what you do when you’re not getting referrals? Actually, marketing helps grease the referral wheels. When your clients and strategic allies see your name out there – in publications, ads, radio programs, in social media, your website, or educational workshops, it makes it that much easier for them to remember to refer you. I got my first magazine job when an old college journalism friend saw an article I’d just freelanced for the local newspaper. She hadn’t thought of me until she saw my name and thought … I’d better see if Nicole might be interested in this staff writer opening! The same is true for you … the more you’re visible, the better your referral business.
Targeted introduction process. Referrals will come in naturally from the above four steps – but why wait? Begin systematically mapping out the relationship networks of people you know. (This technique has worked for many successful advisors). You can do this for your family, friends, clients, neighbors, church members, as well as your business allies, such as CPAs and estate attorneys. Research names at the companies where they work (or where they socialize) and systematically ask for introductions. This works wonderfully well when you have a strong niche. You can tell your friend or client that you’d love to meet so and so at their work, get to know them and see if you could help each other out. (Ironically, the person you’re introduced to may be the gatekeeper that will lead to the real introductions.) This is a no-stress way to ask for referrals.
Public speaking opportunities. Whether you create your own speaking opportunity through a workshop or radio program – or receive invites to other group gatherings, it’s always helpful to speak in public whenever possible. Why? It conveys credibility. When you speak, people know rather quickly if you know your stuff. One very successful advisor gained a reputation as a savvy estate planning specialist by speaking at retirement homes. She also had attendees fill out surveys at the end of all of her presentation asking if they’d like her to come address their group or organization. Likewise, always ask clients if they need a speaker at their church, school or work gathering. When you stand and deliver before a group, it showcases your intelligence – and your ability to think on our feet – you couldn’t ask for a better marketing opportunity. A referral to speak to a group can be just as powerful as a referral to a potential client!
Make sure you’re taking advantage of these referral strategies. If you think I missed any, be sure to comment below this article. And may your referrals flow!