As I discussed last week, most financial services professionals I know are looking for a “silver bullet” to gain a steady stream of client referrals.
I highlighted the clients you should invite to help you build your practice: your “gold mines.” The #1 factor, according to COFPA Symposium speaker Dan Allison, that hinders your clients’ ability to refer you is that you don’t ask.
Upon further reflection of Allison’s declaration, I realize we’re facing the key liminal dimension, the doorway, of interpersonal relationships. From the advisor’s side of the doorway, the referral challenge looks like the clients’ problem: why can’t I get them to do what I want?” From the clients’ perspective, that doorway looks murky and confusing: “I expect my advisor to give me excellent service. I’m not thinking about what she needs. In fact, I don’t have a clue how I can help him.”
This week, I’d like to build on Allison’s work and help you address two more factors your clients say are keeping them from helping you:
2. “I don’t understand who you want to work with.”
You can take two actions to help your clients help you. First of all, your clients may not even know that you are looking for new clients. When was the last time you openly told a client you are seeking new clients?
Second, you can help your client know who’s a good fit for your services. You may need to reevaluate your unique thing in the world, a.k.a. your hedgehog” (see http://live.cranksetgroup.com for details).
Your hedgehog is a simple, memorable way your client can introduce you to a referral.
What is a hedgehog? It is what you uniquely offer and the audience to whom you offer it.
- You have a unique skill/approach—you are the best in your world. You have found the place where “your deep passion and the world’s deep hunger meet” (Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking, 1973, p. 95).
- You have a specific kind of ideal clients, the economic engine for your firm.
- You’ve identified your own passion and use it to serve clients; this might be optimizing tax efficiency or it might be clarifying clients’ values and keeping their financial actions aligned with them.
Now all you have to do is share your hedgehog in a 20-second elevator speech with your clients.
3. “I don’t know how to explain what they do.”
Most of your clients have no idea of all the services you provide. They likely have pigeonholed you as their “investment advisor” if you rolled over their 401K. Or perhaps they think of you as their “insurance agent” after they asked you to help them to protect their wealth in retirement and you sold them long term care insurance or a variable universal life policy with an accelerated benefit rider. Or perhaps you helped them set up a 529 Plan and they think of you as their “college planning advisor.”
Allison suggests that at least once a year you “cross-educate” your clients and go through all the services you offer. Your objective is to get out of that pigeonhole.
I liken it to telling your client about your Swiss army knife: “You have used me for retirement and estate planning. That’s like using the 4” blade on a Swiss army knife. Did you know that my services include nine other implements? I’d like to run through them with you so you can know how I could help family members, friends, and business colleagues address sensitive issues.”
Next week, we’ll look at the next top reason why your clients don’t refer you:
4. “I don’t know how to make the introduction.”
1. Clarify your unique value proposition by answering these 3 questions:
a. What do my clients say I’m best in the world at?
b. What are the top two skills I utilize to uniquely serve my best clients?
c. What are the key descriptors of my ideal clients? (Think about the ones you love to work with). How can I help my clients know who I’m looking for? Be sure to mine demographic, psychographic and personal whimsy factors while composing your description.
2. Develop your 20-second elevator pitch. Practice and refine the speech until it’s second nature.