Five Reasons Why You're Not Getting Referrals

Five Reasons Why You're Not Getting Referrals

​Are you getting enough qualified referrals from people within your network? Or are you relationship rich but referral poor?

In my experience working with those in the financial services industry, I’ve seen those who stay in touch with clients, go to networking events, and even ask for referrals, but never get much to show for it.

Here are a few of the reasons why you don’t get more referrals.

1. You don't take the first step.

Before you ask for a referral, you must make sure that your client is happy with your services. If you ask too soon, you either won’t get referrals at all or the referrals will be poor quality. Take a minute to talk to your client and ask, “How are we doing?” That little question works wonders. If you get a positive answer, you can move ahead and ask for referrals. If you get a not-so-good answer, you now have the opportunity to make it better and you’ll live to fight another day.

2.  They don’t care enough… yet.

This goes hand-in-hand with #1. A lot of professionals will attempt to ask for a referral when the relationship is too new. There is a time and a place for everything, but if you’re attempting to build a long-term relationship with a client, it’s okay to take it slow.

Think about that time you found yourself in a networking situation and somebody you just met wanted to ram a business card in your hand. When they talk, it’s “me, me, me” and what you can do for them. That’s how you come across when you ask for a referral too early in the game.

When someone gives you a referral, they are putting their reputation on the line. You want to be sure that your relationship with the person is developed enough to minimize the perceived risk they take on when referring you.
Another reason they don’t care enough is that prospects and clients are busy. I publish a lot of material ondealing with rejection because a lot of people get hurt when the first try doesn’t go well and they shut down. Don’t do this – your clients are probably too wrapped up in their own world. They’re not even thinking about you or what you can do for other people they know. Take it slow, consistently express your gratitude, and remind them of how you could help other people they know. Don’t get discouraged if they don’t hop up and give you twenty names the first time.

3. You’re asking the wrong way.

When most people ask for a referral they do it like this: “Who do you who needs XYZ?” Every time I hear that, I get one step closer to going crazy. Or how about “Do you know anybody who could benefit from my services?” That’s the absolute worst.

In 57 Marketing Tips for Financial Advisors, I explain that you should never force people to do your qualifying for you. The old “Do you know anyone who could benefit from my services?” forces your clients to make a judgment in an area they may or may not feel comfortable with. All you’re doing is making your client mentally organize EVERYBODY he/she knows, which is too overwhelming. Even if the client is deep in thought and genuinely wants to help you, all he or she will be able to muster is a bleak, “I can’t think of anybody.” You want to know why? It’s because you weren’t specific enough.

Clients aren’t giving you referrals because they genuinely don’t know what you’re looking for. Do some filtering when you ask for a referral. If you specialize in working with physicians, ask: “Who is your physician?” and take it from there. If you’re selling life insurance, go ahead and ask, “Do you know anyone who has recently had a child or might be starting a family soon?” By asking more specific questions, you’ve whittled down the five-hundred people that your client knows all the way down to three or four.

4. You aren’t giving referrals.

One of the best ways to get referrals from other people is to give them first. When you give a referral, you demonstrate your utmost trust and confidence in the person. You also show your willingness to assist or help your client resolve a problem he/she has – the mark of a true professional.

It’s likely that at least some of your clients are lawyers, doctors, business owners, managers, or some other type of professional. You are the person who interacts with all of these people. If you know someone who needs a particular service, make a referral! Call your client and check up on them. If they have a problem that can be solved by someone in your network, let them know. Not only will you have stayed in front of your client, but you will kick in a primal urge to reciprocate on the part of the professional. Nearly all service professionals get part of their business from referrals, so send a few their way.

5. You didn’t ask.

Unfortunately, this is the most common and most easily overlooked reason referrals aren’t coming your way. If you don’t ask, you don’t receive. “Oh, I didn’t know you needed more business!” will be heard so much you’ll think it’s your new ringtone.   

Russ Alan Prince’s book, Cultivating The Middle Class Millionaire tells us that 70% of loyal millionaires were likely to refer people to their primary advisor, yet only 10.7% of advisors actually asked clients for referrals. Dan Allison, the founder and president of Feedback Marketing Group, says that when most advisors lay out their method of asking for referrals, they’re not really asking anything. Sometimes clients don’t even know they’re being asked, or they don’t know that you’re taking on new clients. Be clear and direct. 

James Pollard
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James Pollard is a marketing consultant who specializes in helping financial services professionals grow their business over at ... Click for full bio

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: April 24-28

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: April 24-28

Here’s a look at the Top 11 Most Viewed Articles of the Week on, April 24-28, 2017 

Click the headline to read the full article.  Enjoy!

1. Implementing a Robo Advisor Strategy

Robo advisors can complement—not threaten—any bank’s business model and improve customer engagement. Regardless of age, income, or gender, 75% of bank customers surveyed by KPMG said they would be likely or somewhat likely to consider a robo advice service from their bank. — Greg Vigrass

2. The Sweetspot of Sales

I’ve had some extremely interesting conversations the last few days. We’ve been discussing sales, sales management, leadership, motivation etc. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with these inspiring business leaders. One question keeps coming up: Why do you love sales so much? — Tove Zilliacus

3. New ETFs That Reinvent Fixed Income Investing—Without Reinventing the Wheel

We all know the drill: the Fed raises interest rates, and the bond market falls. That’s an important equation to consider now that the decade-long era of historically low interest rates is slowly but surely coming to an end. — Salvatore Bruno

4. Alternative Beta Strategies: Alpha/Beta Separation Comes to Hedge Funds

A quiet revolution is taking place in the alternatives world. The idea of alpha/beta separation has finally made its way from traditional to alternative investing. This development brings with it a more transparent, liquid and cost-effective approach to accessing the “alternative beta” component of hedge fund return and a new means for benchmarking hedge fund managers. — Yazann Romahi

5. Advisors Will Be Extinct in 5 Years Unless…

I’ve had financial advisors for more than 40 years. Not once in those years have I called my advisor to find out what stock/funds I should buy or sell. But I have called to find out where I should get my first mortgage, when to sell my house, or how much income I could get in retirement. — Paulette Filion and Judy Paradi

6. Outsourcing Investment Management: TPAM vs. TAMP

Many financial advisory firms want the silver bullet solution to outsourcing investment management so the focus can be on client interactions and business development. However the jargon in this outsourced space has become very confusing so here is a brief summary of our understanding. — Jennifer Goldman​​​​​​​

7. How Can Financial Planners Save You From America's #1 Killer?

You probably aren’t aware of this, but it’s true: financial planners are heroes. Yep, it's the truth. And when you think of the America's top killer, you might think about smoking, cancer or obesity. Or maybe even a serial killer. — Ronald Sier

8. How to Stay On Clients' Minds

How to effectively stay on your clients’ minds (for all the right reasons), even though they may not see you for months. — Paul Kingsman

9. 20 Reasons Why Your Company Should Do Less Better

Do Less Better practitioners are fanatical about focus and de-complexity; herein lies the secret of their success. Yet, do less better isn’t something most leaders embrace. The seemingly more attractive (and logical) option is to do more and more — John Bell

10. Advisors: Where Should You Start with Content Marketing?

Often advisors ask us, “How should I get started in marketing?” It’s a fair question. They just want to make sure they’re putting their time and resources in the right place. — Jud Mackrill​​​​​​​

11. The 11 Best Steakhouses in the World

Serious carnivores will go to the ends of the earth to seek out a perfectly marbled, expertly seared steak. And so, it seems, will we. We've visited the best butchers in France, reacquainted ourselves with the idea that everything (steaks included) is bigger in Texas, eaten at celebrated parrillas of Argentina, and enjoyed the elegant ambiance of metropolitan steakhouses. — Andrew Harper

Douglas Heikkinen
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IRIS Founder and Producer of Perspective—a personal look at the industry, and notables who share what they’ve learned, regretted, won, lost and what continues to ... Click for full bio