How to Get More Unsolicited Referrals from Clients
Ask any successful advisor what the key to their success is, and they’ll tell you—referrals. You can’t grow a profitable practice without a steady stream of referrals. When you ask for and receive a referral, it’s an indication that you impressed your client enough to act on your request. But what if you didn’t have to ask for referrals? What if your clients were so impressed with you that they took the time to share their experience with someone without you having to ask?
You know what that feels like if it’s happened to you. But, for many advisors, it happens so rarely that it’s a major shock when it does. So, how do you make it happen consistently enough to make it an expectation?
We’ve written about how to make yourself referable so that you’re no longer uncomfortable asking clients for help building your practice. To get to that point, you need to clearly demonstrate to your clients your services are unique, highly personalized, and, in a word, exceptional. Short of that, you probably haven’t earned the right to ask for referrals, and there may be less of a chance of receiving one if you do.
You must make stark raving fans out of your clients
Have you ever had an experience as a customer that was so astonishingly positive that you felt compelled to share it with others? It probably doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, you remember it, and you probably don’t hesitate to recommend the store or service to someone who expressed a need for what they offer. To that extent, you have become a stark raving fan and a source for new business for that establishment.
To replicate that experience among your clients, you need to make stark raving fans out of them, so they’ll want to talk about you. You do that not by being exceptional, which is the bar for asking for referrals. You do that by consistently exceeding your clients’ expectations. After all, they expect you and your services to be exceptional. So, you must strive to exceed that expectation.
Make yourself the most interesting person in the world
That’s a tall order for anyone, but at the very least, you need to give your clients something to talk about. Clients want to be able to impress their friends—to share a unique experience or story that makes themselves more interesting. We are more drawn to people with interesting backgrounds or doing interesting things.
Advisors can make themselves more interesting by actively engaging in the community, volunteering with the same organizations as your clients, increasing their visibility through media appearances, and promoting their thought leadership through a blog or other publications.
Give your clients a story to tell
We’ve often written about the importance of having a story to tell. It’s a way to reveal your authenticity and connect with people on a personal level. Your “Why I’m Here” story offers a more profound reason—a purpose—for why you work so hard for your clients. That’s what clients want to share with people when they talk about you.
Proactively encourage reciprocity
Clients pay you for your advice. But they stay with you because of the value you bring to their lives. They become stark raving fans when you proactively find ways to improve their lives—going way beyond the typical advisor-client relationship. When you do something special for your clients, many will feel the need to reciprocate, and there’s no better way to do that than with referrals.
We’ve discussed how to exceed expectations by anticipating your clients’ questions and concerns and alerting them to things they don’t know enough to ask. That not only shows you genuinely understand them but, more importantly, it shows you care.
The most important way to show you care is to be there when life events—good and bad—unfold, offering to help guide your clients through them. Don’t ask if there’s anything you can do; just do it.
Most clients want to know their advisors on a personal level. That’s why the “Why I’m Here” or “Who I Am” stories are so critical. However, on an ongoing basis, you must offer opportunities for your clients to get to know you. Invite your clients to a “non-business” lunch to talk about each other’s lives. Get a threesome of clients to join you for a round of golf. Show up to events your clients are involved in. If you become one of them, they will feel more comfortable telling others about you.
You can enhance your social standing with clients by connecting and interacting with them on social media. Ask your clients if it’s OK to connect with them on their preferred social media and then become part of their conversation—responding to or sharing posts and offering your own insights on issues of interest to them. This keeps you top of mind when they’re talking to people who may need your services.
Becoming exceptional is the challenging part, involving restructuring your business practices to an elite level. Exceeding your client’s expectations builds on that but requires a conscious effort and consistent application of “above and beyond” that makes an impression they’ll want to share.
Watch this 3-minute video to learn how our 24-step training program can help you become brilliant at the basics and develop the skills for which clients would want to give you referrals, even if you didn’t ask.
Available as a self-paced program (always open) or as a 12-week coaching program (open only a few times a year), this training will change the way you view your practice and give you an enormous advantage over your competition. Select your format and enroll today!