A Laser-Focused Client Referral Process

A Laser-Focused Client Referral Process

September 30, 2014

by Beverly Flaxington

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Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

I am confused about something. I’ve heard you say we should not ask our clients for referrals, but we should identify clients to approach. Isn’t this the same as asking them for help?

Rebecca M.
Dear Rebecca,

Most advisors are taught, or believe, that the road to referrals is “just ask and keep asking.” They will put a nice line on their emails asking clients to refer them, and they will ask at every client meeting. I hear from advisors that this doesn’t work. They are continually frustrated by the lack of response, even with their best clients who say they are highly satisfied. I think in most cases, this route isn’t as effective as having a strategic, thoughtful approach to referrals.

This is the difference. Instead of just randomly asking, you should identify the clients you believe could-be the best referrals (we call them the “should be” clients). They should be referring because they are happy with your services and they are connected to people whom you want to do business with and who will be a good fit for your firm.

Once you identify these clients, you can take steps to approach them and show them ways they can help you. This is the difference between just asking, “Who do you know?” and saying, “I know you are working closely with your alumni board at your college, I notice that (name here) is on the board, is there a way you could facilitate an introduction for me?”

This is about understanding human behavior. Instead of having someone search their mind for a connection, present a connection and ask directly for help.

Most clients do want to help when asked, but you need to make it easier for them. If you can reach out with a strategic and more laser-focused approach, you are going to get a better response than a general “Just ask!”

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