Everyone would like to raise your game in certain areas of
your business, as no one can do everything perfectly, but if you
have even the faintest doubt about your personal value, skills and
commitment, asking for referrals will not ring true. If you know
you have what it takes to win referrals, take stock of your past
achievements and what you have achieved for your clients. You
will probably be surprised at the value you bring, without letting
yourself drift into the forbidden garden of self-entitlement. Self-esteem drives the ability to win good referrals – and so does
humility. The professionals who consistently earn the best
referrals practice humility. Humility is not thinking less of yourself.
It’s thinking of yourself less. Skilled professionals who practice
humility are never short of good referrals.
The confidence to ask for quality referrals goes beyond
understanding the type of clients with whom you want to work,
your professional ability, likeability (humility) and client commitment.
Asking for referrals is founded on a foundation that takes hard work to
build. It rests on your comprehension and respect for your personal
and business goals, and the value of a well-rounded life. Before
asking for referrals, you need to be running a focused business
(of any size) that hires and keeps great staff. A united team meets
shared revenue and service delivery goals. When that infrastructure
is in place, you will feel more confident about managing unexpected
or even dreadful events, within your business or due to economic
challenges that are beyond your control.
The same advisor said professionals don’t ask for referrals
because they are afraid to make a client feel obligated or
uncomfortable. They also don’t like rejection when they hear, “I’d
like to help, but I no longer make referrals.”
Regardless of how much confidence you have in yourself
and the goodwill of your clients, the same experienced advisor
suggests that as little as 60% of his clients will refer him. People’s
views on giving (or not giving) referrals remains the same in tough
times, which is another reason you should be consistent in your
approach to gathering referrals.
As another seasoned investment professional described it to
me, “when an advisor’s business starts to soften and worry has set
in, referrals suddenly become a focus of the conversation between
advisor and his or her circle and people are a little taken aback.
Some clients want to help while others don’t like receiving an SOS
sent from an advisor who waits for a crisis before reaching out”.
Some clients are very private and don’t want people to know
who is managing their assets. Others enjoy referring you because
they want to be associated with you. It’s a case of ‘you’re known
by the company you keep’.
Who gives the best referrals?
There are as many responses to this question as there are
professional who seek referrals. This is because each referral
source is different.
Despite the proliferation of formal referral gathering systems
(which appear in abundance online – check out a couple and see
what suits your business model and personal style), there is no
easy way to earn referrals.
As personal interaction becomes more rushed and competition
for assets in motion mounts, advisors often need to rely on their
instincts and personality type to win referrals. Some earn referrals
based on professional performance and technical skills. Others find
success through developing their personal brand and working hard
to build trust based on a mastery of emotional intelligence skills.
The steadiest referral gatherers rely on a combination of the two.
“You can’t be someone you’re not,” an insurance lawyer
noted. “If you are introverted, you can work at gradually becoming
more engaging as you claim a voice. But few people are truly
convincing chameleons who can change their personas instantly.
People see it as inauthentic.”
One confident request of three clients or other people you
know well is more powerful than an unsure request to ten clients
or people who you are just getting to know. Think carefully about
the potential response of the person who you want to refer you.
1. Appreciate the value you bring to your clients.
2. Identify the kind of client you are seeking.
3. Make asking for referrals a carefully considered regiment – not an event.
4. Become ok with feeling a little uncomfortable. The worst they can say is “no.”
5. Enhance your listening and interpersonal communications skills to make
people want to refer you – or become clients themselves.
6. Remember the power of humility: Humility is not thinking less or yourself. It is thinking of yourself less.
7. Keep your mind and body in good shape. You are the only brand
you’ve got and it needs to always be in top form.
8. Develop your “IQ” (Imagination Quotient). Creatively build your brand through social media, networking,
charitable work, public speaking and community involvement. Get curious about things outside your world.
9. “Thank you” are powerful words – in both thought and deed.
10. Be patient. Most people want you to succeed - situations can change suddenly when they find the time
to help or they find someone who is great, vs. adequate, referral for you. Hold out for ‘great’ every time.
Ten important things I’ve learned about asking for referrals