But many financial professionals are not getting their share of referrals says Stan Mann
Mostly because they are not leveraging the most powerful marketing strategy for advisors – referrals.
According to the Schwab Report: “The fastest-growing advisors saw growth rise five times faster than all other firms because they excel at delivering “the client experience” and as a result get more referrals.”
These fast-growing firms generated an average of 36% more new clients from referrals than all other firms, said Jonathan Beatty, senior vice president of Schwab Advisor Services.
Beatty said the fastest growers understand their specific value proposition and ideal client profile, which makes them better able to generate more referrals through strong client relationships. “The client experience floats all the way through the system,” he says.
The client experience is the key. The better your clients experience you, the more referable you are. It’s not about asking for referrals. It’s about being referable. Highly so.
You are probably already knocking yourself out giving superior service, catering to your client’s whims and having client appreciation days. In fact, you might even have a reserved parking place for them when they visit your office. All of this is good stuff. But it’s not enough.
Here’s a little-known secret to make you highly referable. In addition to providing fabulous service, you also need to engage your clients. Take your very best clients and make them true partners by asking them how you can improve your practice. They will feel flattered and invested in your success. Do this individually and in groups. Create an advisory board and listen to what they say.
Not only will you give them a superior client experience, you’ll get many valuable ideas to improve your practice.
Now you have this loyal group of clients you have conditioned to want to help you. One of the best ways they can help you, course, is by giving you referrals. Not just any old referrals, but ideal referrals.
To be able to do this they need three things:
- Knowledge of who the right prospects are for you,
- An understanding of how to describe you and your services, and
- Reassurance that it’s safe for them to make the referral.
Identify Your Target Market
What type of people do you work with best and help the most? Do you target anybody nearing or at retirement age, or do you specialize in a specific occupation or profession? Let’s use dentists as an example. If you work with dentists who are nearing or at retirement age, you are in a more powerful position because this group is easier to market to because they have similar values and interests. You can even get to know and use their jargon, which makes you more attractive and trustworthy in their eyes.
A less specific target market works well too. For instance, self-employed professionals would include dentists, doctors, accountants, and lawyers, to name a few. So if you’re having a referral conversation with an ideal client, you can say something like, “the people I help best are self-employed professionals like you.”
An effective referral building strategy includes clearly defining the specific characteristics and circumstances that make up your ideal client profile. Think about it: what type of people do you love to work with? What type of people are you in sync with? And how are your unique services geared to that type of client?
Clarifying your ideal client profile makes the referral process clear. Once you understand and have crafted your ideal client profile, it’s easy to reinforce with your current clients how they ARE ideal clients for you. And it’s natural for your clients to then recognize what a good fit your services are for them.
Having a written ideal client profile also helps you in many additional ways. It helps you focus and speak the language of a specific type of person. It helps you decide which networks to participate in and what marketing strategies to use. You’ll be able to structure your whole financial service to serve your ideal client. And your ideal client will listen to you. It’s like being able to call out to him/her by name in a crowded room. Your ideal client will be compelled to look at you and listen.
If you picture your ideal client in your mind’s eye when you’re writing your marketing material, it’s much easier. You can write about their specific needs and desires. Define your ideal clients by examining these criteria:
- Age, occupation or retirement status
- Investable assets, socioeconomic group
- Psychographics (values, motivations, problems, issues and aspirations)
- Groups they belong to
When you’ve done this, take a fresh look at your ideal client and think of it him/her as your ideal prospect. This is the person you want to talk to. This is person you should network with. This is the person you educate. This is the person you write your value proposition to. This is the person you make your compelling offers to.
And this is the person you want your clients to refer.
So, when you’re educating one of your special clients to refer to you, show her this ideal client profile.
Then educate her on what to say. Explain that you have a process for making referrals you’d like her to use.
It’s important for your referring clients to understand why they should refer anyone to you in the first place. What’s in it for her friend?
So, if you ever wondered why your client get a glazed look when you ask for referrals, it’s because she doesn’t know what’s special about you; she doesn’t understand what value you provide; and she doesn’t know what clients you work best with. You’re a generalist who does everything for everybody — just another advisor. You don’t stand out from the crowd.
That’s why, in addition to your ideal client profile, you need to show her your compelling value proposition.
If you don’t have your value proposition yet, here’s how to make one. Start with this exercise. Make a list of the benefits your services provide. Thoroughly review the challenges your clients are trying to solve. Describe which tools you provide and what decisions you help them make. Then boil this down to one or two concise sentences.
Always start your value proposition with your target market explaining the people you help and then describe the benefits you provide. The shorter you make this, the better.
For instance, my value proposition is: I help financial professionals get more profitable, high net worth, referrals.
Lastly, you need to reassure your clients that it’s safe to refer to you. She’ll have no regrets because you promise to treat her friend with the utmost professionalism. Her friend will have a good experience. You will act as a sounding board and not as a salesman. You’re offering a value-added service and her friend does not need to become a client to benefit from it.
Be sure and keep her in the loop and let her know what’s going on without divulging inappropriate details. I find one of the big mistakes advisors make is to thank someone for a referral and that’s the end of it. The referring party is kept in the dark. Not at all rewarding.
Follow these tips to make yourself highly referable and you get your share of the annuity sales bonanza.
P.S. Exclusively for financial professionals.Discover my seven-step process for getting a steady flow of more profitable referrals.