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Seven Steps to Improve Your Referral Process

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Seven Steps to Improve Your Referral Process

Written by: Susan Danzig

Referrals are one important channel of a personalized marketing plan. Here is a list of ways you can improve the process through which you receive referrals to your financial services practice. I invite you to read through the list below and ask yourself how you are doing in the various areas I have highlighted and be on the lookout for anything you’d like to add to your own process:

1. Excellent client care

In order for your clients to even think about referring their friends and colleagues to you, their own experience with your services must be extremely satisfying.

Areas to take into account with regards to meeting client expectations:

  • Start by revisiting your Branded System and confirm that you are effectively delivering on each and every aspect of what you promised you would deliver to clients.
    • If necessary, make note of any areas that need to be refined or included more effectively to support you in delivering on your Branded System.
    • Determine who on your team will be responsible for taking action on any adjustments. (If you don’t have the bandwidth to take additional work on yourself at this point, I invite you to consider if bringing on someone to support you would be possible.)
    • Set a date on your calendar for when you would like to have the desired adjustments implemented and monitor the implementation.
       

2. Excellent client rapport

Excellent client rapport is part of the foundation for healthy referral attraction and important for several reasons. First, a close and harmonious relationship between you and your client enables them to share their feelings, thoughts, and goals. Nurturing this relationship supports their ability to feel comfortable sharing all of the details of their financial life with you, as well as any relevant personal details that can play an important role. Building trust and confidence supports a strong foundation for your relationship with your client and supports them feeling comfortable referring others to you.

Having good rapport with your client will also make you feel more comfortable asking for referrals. After all, it’s a two-way street!

3. Consistent client education of your brand

Consistent client education around your brand is important so your clients understand the value you deliver overall and can effectively communicate that to others. What I find is that most advisors think that once they initially share the full breadth of the services they provide, the client will remember this information accurately forever. While this would of course be wonderful, is is oftentimes not the case, especially if you offer a comprehensive service model.

For example, if you used the services of a CPA who solely provided accounting services for you, that would likely be simpler to remember than if this CPA also provided comprehensive financial services that included financial planning, investment management, estate planning, college planning, insurance planning, etc. You get the idea. My point is that while you may think that your brand messaging to clients is simple, you shouldn’t assume that it is simple for your clients to remember all the ins and outs of your service model — especially if you don’t educate them about it consistently.

As another example, if you include insurance planning with your overall financial services practice, it is important to share each aspect of the specific insurance product that you can provide for clients, such as life insurance, long term care insurance, disability insurance, key man insurance, etc. If your client feels the need for insurance down the pike, if you’ve already educated them effectively it will be natural for them to speak with you about it rather than going elsewhere. It will also make it more likely that they remember to provide a referral if they hear a friend or colleague mentioning the need for any of these products.

4. Share your goals

This is important so that your clients know that you are interested in growing your practice. When you share your specific goals with your clients, such as one new client per month, if they are raving fans and are happy to have the opportunity to contribute to your success, this conversation might support their mindset in thinking of people in their sphere of influence that could benefit from your services like they have.
On the flip side, if you aren’t sharing your goals with your clients, that can lead them to think that you aren’t necessarily trying to grow your practice or that you might not be looking for referrals or new business.

Related: 10 Steps to Hosting Your First Client Event

5. Ask for referrals 

A good time to ask for referrals is at the end of a client review or any time they have expressed gratitude for what you are providing.

Once they have given you referrals, the next step is to determine with your client the best way to get introduced, whether it would be through a simple e-mail introduction, a conference call, or an in-person meeting. I recommend simply asking your client what they think would be the best approach to connect you with their referral.

6. Take action to take great care of prospects

This is the important part! Once you have received the referral, quickly take action to follow up with the prospect to schedule an opportunity to discuss their needs.

This action will show your client you treat their referrals as well as your clients and support your client in feeling comfortable continuing to refer others to you.

7. Thank your clients

Expressing gratitude for referrals is an important follow up step with your clients to let them know that you appreciate their referrals. People like to be recognized and thanked for going out of their way to provide a referral. Simple gestures of gratitude can mean a lot!

You can express your gratitude with a simple thank you note. In this digital age, I recommend going the extra mile to send a paper note as emails can get lost in the inbox. If the referral becomes a client and you’d like to thank the client who referred them a second time, you can do that as well. Oftentimes advisors will take their raving fans out for a meal which is a great opportunity to continue to build rapport with them and express your gratitude at the same time.

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