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

NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work

NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work

Written by: Jon Sabes

When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward. 

However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:

  • He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
  • He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
  • When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
  • While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
  • In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.

Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (, is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.

Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.

Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.

His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”

When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”

On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.

“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”

That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing.  Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.

Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”

When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it.  He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.

I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.

GWG Holdings, Inc.
Investing in Life
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GWG Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:GWGH) the parent company of GWG Life, is a financial services company committed to transforming the life insurance industry through disruptive and i ... Click for full bio