How to Ask for Referrals Without Asking

Written by: Stan Mann | Results Producer

Do you hesitate to ask for referrals out of concern that it will hurt the relationship with your clients? Or do you think it’s a waste of time?

What stops many advisors and causes them to tense up is when they feel they’re asking for a favor. And this can be true if clients feel pressured. One advisor was so relentless asking for referrals that a client referred his paperboy just to stop the interrogation. There’s a big controversy over whether to ask for referrals or not to. When I posted the question on LinkedIn, many financial advisors offered their opinions. The “ask” camp was a small majority. So, should you ask or not? Also, there is a way to ask without asking. First, you have to lay the groundwork. You have to position yourself as referrable. You need to deserve referrals. Everyone on LinkedIn agreed to this. Position yourself by providing WOW service. Clients most appreciate quick response to their inquiries. Make clients feel important by sending birthday and anniversary cards. The most powerful way to position yourself as the go-to financial person is to be known as a specialist in two areas. The first area is your financial expertise (such as Social Security, comprehensive financial planning, 401ks/403bs/IRAs, asset allocation, career change, or estate planning, to name of few). The second area is who you serve. This is the most important area, yet most overlooked by financial advisors. You need to provide your financial expertise to a specific, well-defined group. Examples are wealthy divorcees, plastic surgeons in Los Angeles, or executives at Dell Computer who are getting ready to retire. Develop your niche. Cultivate your clientele. A good time to ask for referrals is at the end of your regular financial review. Another excellent time is when clients express happiness with your service. Position yourself so your client sees you as an expert who specializes in providing specific financial services. Review with your clients the profile of your ideal client so they’ll know who they should consider sending your way. Here’s what you say to ask for more referrals without asking. “I don’t need any more clients, but as a service to you, I’m willing to help your family, friends, and colleagues with their financial questions. Who comes to mind that might benefit from my help?” You’re not asking for a favor. You’re offering them a favor. This method has several advantages. You don’t come across as needy. You’re not placing any obligation upon your clients. And it’s much easier for most of us to offer a favor than ask for one. You’ll feel comfortable and do it more often. There you have it. What do you think? Will it work for you? Let me know. Send your questions. I’ll do my best to answer them.