Why You Should Stop Asking For Referrals

By Elizabeth Snyder

March 11, 2014

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I hear it all the time: “I ask my clients and centers-of-influence (COIs) to think of me if they know anyone who many benefit from my services, yet I never receive any referrals. What am I doing wrong?”

If this sounds familiar to you, know that this is a common concern among financial advisors.

What should you do if you find yourself in a similar position?

Stop focusing on how you position the “ask” and how often you ask. Instead, focus your marketing efforts on providing clients and COIs with specific opportunities to discuss your approach and how it directly addresses the needs or concerns of their friends or families. Positioning yourself this way takes the direct pressure off your client or COI, alleviating some of the initial fears they may have about referring someone to you.

Determine the referrals you want

The first step is to establish a clear understanding of your ideal audience, including fundamental characteristics of what this market looks like aside from basic net worth or investable assets. Consider qualifiers such as:

  • Demographics
  • Life stage
  • Profession
  • Psychographics

Having a clear understanding of your ideal client, including needs, wants and desires, will help you articulate what it is about your business that makes you qualified to serve that client base. As a complement, consider writing down the specific attributes of your current client database that you wish to emulate. You will most likely find that many of these people have very similar financial situations or concerns. Pay close attention to the fears and concerns you address for those existing clients. It will help you construct your firm’s message when developing content that communicates how you are qualified to help others in similar situations.

Create the content

Next, leverage the information you have gathered by developing content that addresses some of the financial concerns or issues your ideal clients share and that you solve. Communicating these common scenarios provides other clients and COIs with context as to how your expertise meets the needs of others. In terms of the best storytelling format and sequence, it helps to start by describing a situation or problem that a client had, followed by an explanation of the steps you took to find a solution for that client.

Do not be afraid to describe the client’s current success. I find that many advisors will describe a client’s challenge and solution but then fail to recap how their client met personal goals and objectives.

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