If referrals aren’t happening in your advice practice, this can be down to some psychological or practical barriers standing in your way. Once these barriers are uncovered, you may find that they are relatively simple to address:
Advisers can often feel uncomfortable about asking clients for referrals. Putting yourself in the position of asking clients to do something that will benefit you and your business can feel very awkward. But when you realise that referrals are really about clients helping out a friend or family member, it doesn’t seem inappropriate at all.
Let’s take a hypothetical scenario. Susan is talking to her friend Bill about her plans to renovate their house. Bill recommends a fabulous architect he used for his own renovation. Bill’s motivation is not to help the architect to grow his business but to be useful and helpful to his friend. It’s about improving his relationships with people he cares about
Looking at referrals in this way can remove any sense of discomfort. When referrals help your clients to strengthen their relationships, it’s a process that can serve both your needs. If referral conversations are still challenging, having a referral script to guide you is also a great way to get comfortable with the process.
Given their motivation for referring, clients are far less likely to give referrals when they don’t expect things to work out. They don’t want to put their relationship at risk so it’s very important they feel confident that a referral to your business will result in a prompt response and excellent customer service.
When you tell clients how busy you are, they can take this is a sign that you’re already running at maximum capacity. Instead of sharing the ‘we’re really busy’ message with clients you can be just as positive about your business with one of these phrases:
Clients are far less likely to make referrals when it’s just not on the agenda. And even if you can get past a reluctance to bring up referrals, it may not be easy to fit it into conversations that are focused on building relationships with clients and meeting their financial planning goals.
It’s easy to see how a referral process can get sidelined by these other important activities. Making referrals part of everyday conversations with clients is one of the best ways to make sure your referral strategy goes from ad hoc to long term. Here are three simply ways to bring referrals up in your client meetings:
These are just some of the ways to start making referrals a priority for your business and growth strategy. In our next article, you can explore the referral process in more detail and take steps to streamline and embed regular referral conversations and follow-up for your business.