Most financial services professionals I know are looking for a “silver bullet” for gaining a steady stream of client referrals. Why does the silver bullet elude us?
The silver bullet eludes us because we’re facing the key liminal dimension of interpersonal relationships. The financial advisor thinks the referral challenge looks like the clients’ problem: “why can’t I get him to do what I want?” From the clients’ perspective, the concept of referrals seems murky and confusing: “I expect my advisor to give me excellent service. I’m not really thinking about what she needs.” Or, “I don’t have a clue what s/he wants.”
Over the last two weeks, we’ve looked at three actions you can take to solve this problem from the advisor’s side of the liminal dimension:
- Clarify your hedgehog.
- Develop a plan to cross-educate your clients.
This week, building on Dan Allison’s work, I will help you address the fourth factor your clients say is an obstacle to their helping you:
4. “I don’t know how to make the introduction.”
You’re the expert on this! Allison asks advisors’ clients this question:
If you had somebody important to you, who needed your financial advisor’s help, what would you do to recommend that they see your advisor?
Many of our clients report a story like this: “I handed your card to “Sophie” and told her to give you a call.”
The good news is that this client wants to help. The bad news is that he doesn’t know the best way to connect the two of you. Let’s examine what you might say to clients to help them help you to connect with that family member:
“I appreciate your passing along my card but I want to talk about that for a minute. Our goal is to provide enough value to our clients that you want to get our help out to other people you care about. In this case, you identified somebody who may need some help.”
At this point, ask deeper questions of your client to explore why this potential new client might need your help. You might ask follow-up questions like:
- Tell me more about the value you’ve received from our firm. What difference has this made for you?
- Tell me more about your loved one’s situation. How do you think our firm can help?
Allow the client to reflect on his positive experience with you. Let her empathize how you could help that loved one to have the same experience.
Next you can go to the “how-to’s” of moving clients beyond that feeling of genuine empathy and altruism. At this point, the client will be more motivated to take the actions you suggest.
Back to your client: “Unfortunately, the method that you used will rarely lead to that person actually getting any help. Is there a different approach that will be comfortable for both you and comfortable for them that will lead to an introduction? That way, they can make an informed decision about whether to pursue help that I offer.”
Let your clients guide you!
Start with what’s comfortable for them. Then build upon their suggestions or propose an alternative.
One very effective way to help clients introduce you to that friend is to create a warm connection: set up a lunch for the three of you. You might say something like, “I just want to get to know your loved one. I promise not to embarrass you by ‘selling’ to them in that first meeting. Let’s coordinate our calendars. How would a lunch on October 10th or 13th work for you? If those dates are open for you, why don’t you offer those dates to your loved one? I’ll check back in two days to see which one works best for him.”
Here is another helpful tool :
- Ask your client to make a phone call today to let that family member know of their advisor’s offer for a complimentary get-to-know-you conversation.
- Then ask your client to send an email introduction in which she shares contact information for both you and the loved one .
- Note on your calendar to contact that person once you see the email.
What other tools have you found that keep those referrals from falling into a black hole?
- Today’s blog excerpts come from Dan Allison’s article, “5 Reasons Clients Don’t Refer, and What You Can Do About It.”
- To summarize how you want your clients to introduce you to leads, here are some steps to make sure the following are clearly agreed upon:
a. Your client understands–both emotionally and cognitively—how her action is helping her friend. She should be able to say to that friend, “I know you’re still shell-shocked from the loss of your spouse. I know my financial advisor can give you a sound second opinion on what you need to do next. Most quick decisions are almost always the wrong ones. She can keep you from making a mistake.”
b. Your client has a clear plan of action and an agreed-upon time for completion: “I know you’re really busy and I want to help you take care of your recently widowed friend. Would you be able to set up a lunch/make an email introduction by tomorrow?”
c. Your client is motivated to act. However, the unexpected does crop up. Check by asking permission: “May I call you to check on how best to help tomorrow?”