There are many advisers in a position at the moment of being so inundated with new client referrals and enquiries that they have a waiting list of people wanting to see them. AND we are also coming across some advisers in the opposite situation. They’re looking to grow their business and wondering how they can best find the right type of clients.
As we always say – do not go for growth at any cost, ensure you’re selective about the clients you choose to serve, so that you can build a resilient business with raving fans for clients. You can change lives and create incredible value for people when you’ve designed your client experience and service proposition for their very needs. But I digress.
Whether you’re building a new business, or you’re busy replacing legacy clients in an established business, there are a few techniques that we know will help you attract more people so that you can improve more lives.
The right place to spend your attention and marketing focus will depend on the type of business you have and the clients you’re seeking. Digital marketing strategies with lead magnets and nurture funnels can be incredibly effective when done well… but I’m going to focus this article on one of the most tried and tested strategies to build resilient advice businesses. That is, receiving qualified, warm referrals.
There are two main sources of referrals that most firms excel with:
- Referrals from existing clients, and
- Referrals from centres of influence like accountants, mortgage brokers, etc.
Whichever source they’re coming from, there are a few rules you can follow that will lead to successful referral strategies.
1. Ensure your referrers know what type of client you’re looking for and what sort of value and outcomes you can create for them. Many advisers feel they need to serve any client that is referred to them for fear of offending the referring party, but the reality is, the referring party wants to ensure their friend/client has their needs met. If that’s not by you, they’ll still be happy if you’ve directed them to the best place to serve them. You might be surprised at the uplift in quality of referrals you receive when you can clearly articulate the types of clients you work best with!
2. Ensure you acknowledge and thank the source for sending the client to you. Without revealing any personal information of your new client, you can let your referrer know that you appreciate their introduction and you’re enjoying making a difference to the party in question. Wherever possible, also encourage your new client to give the referrer feedback on their experience with you. In the case of a centre of influence, having regular catchups to discuss their clients (to the degree of detail they have authorised you to do so), will mean that you stay front of mind, and receive a consistent flow of clients. Clients who have referred for the first time will be thrilled that they can help both you and their friend and will be more likely to repeat the exercise if they feel appreciated and valued.
3. Be mindful of how you present yourself to the world. Think of the last three times you were asked how you are… was your answer something like “busy, busy, busy”, “crazy busy, these markets have been making life interesting” or was it more like “Great thanks, I am loving being able to help people make the most out of life”???
Clearly, the latter answer will be more likely to inspire people to think of you when they’re next presented with someone who needs your help.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for them! Creating referral relationships with centres of influence is usually a conscious process…and we know many advisers don’t like the idea of asking their clients outright. BUT there is an elegant way that you can let your clients know that you’re happy to receive referrals from them, without being too awkward.
There are actually a few ways to elegantly request referrals. I’ll give you an example here of how to bring it up in conversation, and you can do a similar thing via a campaign, either emailing your clients, sending letters out to them, you could send them a little card, share a video of you speaking – via email or on your socials…. you could do a whole range of different things that get their attention. If it’s in person, the best time to do it is at the end of a meeting, when you ask them how it went and get some feedback on the value that you’re providing for them and the impact your relationship is having on their life.
We’re never proponents of providing scripts for client conversations – we always encourage advisers to use their own language and personality, but you could say something along the lines of:
“Our industry has gone through tremendous change over the past few years, resulting in a shortage of quality advisers (there are less than 16,000 now – down from over 28,000 four years ago!), so most firms have long waiting lists for new clients. We’re improving our efficiencies to serve our clients better, and we’re only accepting new clients on a referral-only basis, to ensure we can add value to their specific needs. If you know anyone who needs quality financial advice, <be prepared to have a more detailed explanation of your targeted clientele> we would be happy to help, and if they come from you, we will make sure we make the time to look after them.”
You can also go the next step to make it really easy for them to refer to you – either create some referral cards, or perhaps even a unique link that your clients can send people or share on social media to book in an initial phone enquiry straight into your diary. (You’ll at least want some way to vet the enquiries before spending an hour of time in a meeting!)
You can take this same sentiment and put it in a well-crafted letter or email that can go out to your clients as well. We’ve created a template of both the email/letter copy and a sample referral card for our Evolve Alliance members that they can customise to suit their firm.
We love to hear examples of how advisers do this well, so feel free to reach out or share your experience in the comments!
To get your copy of the templates, log in to the Evolve Alliance portal by clicking here. If you’re not already a member of the Evolve Alliance, you can join by visiting the same link.