The following is a guest blog post from Stephen Wershing, President of the Client Driven Practice, LLC, a firm that specializes in coaching financial advisors on creating referral marketing plans that work. Prior to beginning the Client Driven Practice, Stephen worked as a broker dealer executive for 14 years, first as Chief Operating Officer of a national independent firm, then President of a regional one. He left those positions to focus on helping advisors build their businesses and, after doing some research, the best way to do that came down to one thing – attracting more referrals. 

I spend a lot of time coaching advisors on how to attract referrals. Let me take a minute and discuss what to do when you receive one.

Contact them promptly. It should be obvious and go without saying, but you would be surprised that some advisors receive a name and number from a client and put off contacting them. Your client probably mentioned you because their friend expressed a challenge they were dealing with right now. Don’t waste time. Make that phone call a priority.

• Ask what they need. When you reach the referral, after introducing yourself and referencing the client who recommended you, find out what’s on their mind. Give them an opportunity to describe what problem they have and what kind of solution they look for. Put the spotlight on them.

• Lead with your value proposition. Once the referral has described their challenge, give them your elevator pitch. You should be in the habit of starting every conversation about your practice with it.

• Compare their need to your unique skill. If things go well, and the referral was sent to you because of the special solution or expertise you represent, it will be clear to the referral that what you do answers the problem they just described.

• Set the appointment. Don’t waste time on the phone doing fact gathering or presenting. If you have successfully connected their need to your special skill, the next step is to get together.

• Send your client a thank you note. Express your gratitude for their vote of confidence. Your client takes the risk by sending a friend to you – honor it. Update them on the status of your conversation without breaching confidences. Let your client know that you spoke to the person that they sent and you have scheduled an appointment, or didn’t. Send them a thank you regardless of whether the referral went anywhere or not. My preference is to hand write a card and send by mail. People don’t do that very often anymore, so it is much more special than an e-mail. Do it the same day you speak with the referral.

• Next time you see the client who sent you the referral, ask about the circumstances that led to it. It leads your client to relive the situation, and makes it more likely they will make another referral in the same situation. Knowing what the client said will give you valuable information about what the client values and how to teach other clients to do the same. It gives you a chance to confirm that they understand your value proposition and teaches you how they describe it. It enables you to discover a new trigger phrases that prompted your client to refer.

Receiving referrals is more than an opportunity to bring in a new client. It is an opportunity to reward a referror with gratitude. It is an opportunity to learn more about when clients refer, which helps you attract more. It reinforces your differentiator, and drives it further into the clients brain. And all of this helps lead to more referrals.

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