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How To Double Your Business By Cloning Your Top Clients - The Secret Strategy Of Getting Referrals Part I

Are you ready for the secret? There are two parts to it. First you have to ask. Second you have to ask often.

Here is a list of great referral marketing ideas:

  • Referral research method

  • Getting Married philosophy

  • Non- verbal referral communication

  • Up front referral business

  • Competition target method

  • Clone your best clients method

  • Centers of influence referrals

The first idea is to do research on selected referral targets. Show your client or center of influence the ideal client profile that you are looking for or targeting. Let them know that you are constantly trying to improve your business to help people achieve their financial goals.

While clients are happy with the services they receive, you would like to interview potential prospects to conduct research on what our marketing, communication and advice that you help people with and the perceived value. Ask them for names of people in your unique profile purely to do market research.

You want to let them know that it will greatly help identify and target your ideal prospect. Then call these referrals and you will be amazed at the amount of
information you can gather about your target market.

How they network, the clubs or associations they belong to the type of advisors they work with and how they network. Along the way the people who you conduct research on may provide referrals to you directly.

The next referral strategy is the getting married philosophy.  Think for a moment if you were to marry someone new, who would you want to meet that is associated with that person to find out more about them. First you may meet their parents ( a movie was made about this ), you might want to meet their friends, colleagues at work and possibly their neighbors.

We’ll ask your client, ' Now that you have become a client of ours, have you talked with anyone in your family, at work or your friends about us'. Chances are if they just moved a large investment account to you, they at least tell their best friends. 

In their center of people close to them they have the ability to send friends and family your way as referrals. Talking about it up front may make it easier to refer these people to you. You can ask if any of these people, family, friends, colleagues at work should need your help that you are more than happy to accommodate their needs. While they might not fit your ideal profile, usually birds of a feather flock together and their friends will be similar to their profile. Get married to your clients. At least help the people around them.

Non verbal messages such as:

  • Newsletters

  • Message on your desk or biz card

  • Letters to clients

  • Surveys to clients

  • Have a worksheet or handout

Newsletters: At the bottom of my newsletters ,I write, 'I would like to thank my clients for thinking of me to help family and friends by referring their name to me. Referrals are always welcome and greatly appreciated'. Another idea on your newsletter is have a draw for a dinner gift certificate for clients that referred you business and announce the winners in your newsletter.

Message on your desk or business card - On my desk, my business card holder reads, 'The best compliment you can give is a referral'.

Letters to clients: Why not select a few clients to start with and send them a letter asking for referrals. Then follow up with a phone call, not to ask for referrals directly, but indirectly to see if they received the letter and possibly to have a coffee and share an investment idea with them. Then you can ask for referrals once you see how they feel about referrals. See a sample letter in my book at financialadvisormarketing.com .

Surveys to clients: Positive or negative, everyone needs feedback. Surveys are a great way to ask for referrals if they are happy with you. I would only survey clients you are comfortable
asking referrals from.

Seminars and seminar invitations:- You can see the strategy on seminars, but you don’t want to miss these ideas. First, in your invitations, always state that your clients are free to bring a friend or family member to your seminar. Second, on the bottom of all seminar feedback forms, I always put, please add these people to your next seminar invitation. I have received
valuable referrals from this form information.

Up front business referral:  When I first heard this ideal being presented by a top performing financial advisor from Vancouver, I loved the idea. It is something that you cannot decide to do when it seems right, but in every new client interview it should become part of your initial interview or talk. What I am referring to is establishing the terms of how you do business.

You would state to a new client that part of doing business with you is to generate referrals for you so you can spend more time on managing clients goals and less time marketing to new people. Up front you tell them the profile of people you work with and that they help you identify prospects for you and let you know of these people.

If they agree, then you have a solid basis to ask for referrals on a regular basis and both of you are comfortable with this type of business practice. Remember it must be done up front each time a new client decides to do business with you.

Competition target method:- This method of referrals can be fun, especially if your target market is a certain segment of business owners. For example, lets say you do group benefits for engineering firms. After you deal with one firm, ask them about their competition. They will usually know their good competitors in town and may even know them well through trade associations.

Once you start asking about them, ask if you can contact them using their name for their business. If they don’t like their competitor, sometimes they will be reluctant to use their name as a referral source, but the respect of competition usually makes it an interesting conversation. You can usually find a lot of information about a target group by asking for referrals to that group. The clients are usually more than willing to talk about their competition, positive or even sometimes negative.

Verbal ways: Clone your best clients. One of my best clients came as a result of asking a client to invite a friend to one of my meetings. As a result I asked my client about the referral and they tried to get their friends to come and see me for quite some time, although I didn’t know that. When I asked for a referral, they mentioned this persons name and that they tried to get them to come and
talk to me. It was only when I asked for referrals that I found out that the client was trying to help me, but it wasn’t working.

Have a referral talk as part of your vocabulary. This is the most uncomfortable talk advisors have is asking for more business after the client gives you business already. However, once you do it 30 times for 30 days, it becomes a habit. It will be the best habit you pick up and you will go farther and faster than you ever thought possible by using that talk every day, over and over.

Have a worksheet or handout for clients. To remind you of the referral talk use a cheat sheet to help you make it a habit. You will need paper anyways writing down names , so you might as well make a sheet out of it - See a sample letter in my book.

Centers of influence referrals: As discussed in strategy # 13 in my book, Build a dynamic referral team.

Grant's Tip: Create a point system and make it a game. If you need 8 referrals per month, think of the sources that you will generate them and how. When you know that you will generate one or two referrals a day to add to your database, it’s exciting to know that you sometimes don’t have enough time to keep up with the referrals you generate by habit on a daily basis.

One center of influence I have worked with knows that during the course of the year he knows how many referrals are usually generated and from who he works with so at the start of each year, he has an estimate of the amount of business he will automatically generate through his referral networks. See strategy # 24 in my book, Guerrilla marketing For Financial Advisors', Creating a referral system.

Copyright 2003 By: Jay Conrad Levinson and Grant W. Hicks, C.I.M - Co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing For Financial Advisors ", Trafford Publishing 2003.

You may use these articles in your marketing, newsletters and web sites as long as you retain the copyright information at the bottom, including the link to our web site and inform us where it is being used as well as sending us a copy of the publication.

Always check with your compliance office and or branch manager before implementing any marketing idea. The information does not constitute a recommendation for the sale or purchase of any securities or insurance.