Many advisors have built their business on referrals. These referrals generally come from their centre of influence (COI). This includes their friends and family, it also includes professionals in related industries (for advisors this means accountants, lawyers maybe even mortgage brokers, tax and estate specialists)
According to a recent survey by Environics Research Group Ltd.
The same article also highlights some of the most popular triggers for client referals.
This graphic illustrates two important factors.
- We need to ask for referals more.
- People refer you to help their friends not you.
How to generate more referals
So aside from asking for more referrals & automating the ask it into your process, how can we generate more referrals from our clients or COI if they are not actively doing it on their own? We need to be able to help clients help their friends. We can make this easier by following the 4 pillars of being "referable"
How engaged you can get your clients in your process because you need their "buy-in" you need their belief that what you are doing for them is so valuable so different from other advisors that if they don't refer you to their friends and family they are doing their friends a disservice. This is how I feel about my real estate broker. He has gone over and above and saved me literally hundreds of thousands of dollars because of his experience and attention to detail. I go out of my way to refer him because I am confident that he will do the same for them. I like being a connector and helping people solve problems it's in my nature, however, the reciprocal impact is something quite amazing. Remember the more referrals you give the more referrals you get back.
This includes knowledge of products how to apply them as well as being able to listen to your client's needs in the first place. This also includes things like being on time (15 early is considered on time). This for a lot of people is also how you present yourself not only in person but also the quality of your materials. By "quality of materials" I mean things like your website, brochure highlighting your main value, how you presentation or pitch the various solutions you have to offer and communicate that value. Today most consumers will research you before doing business with you and they will use the information they find to form an impression on your professionalism. Even in 2013 a study suggests that, a whopping 85 percent of people said they would use the Internet in some way to purchase a life insurance policy! This means upping your digital profile to match the expectations of your ideal customer.
Clarity & Simplicity
How easy can you make the experience for the client? This means everything from the way they book time with you, to what you accomplish in the time you have with your clients. The fundamental rule customers live by today is that they want simple transparent processes. Make sure you have all your ideas laid out in a clear and concise way. Remember 88% of people aren’t familiar with the different types of life insurance options available to them. They need help here and you are the one who can provide that clarity. Clarity also starts with the way you describe your process and lay the framework for what happens after they apply. What your approach to planning looks like. Make sure when you lay out your approach to the client you include things like a 3 month follow up to go over any questions that may have come up as well as tell them up front you will ask for referrals at this stage provided they are ecstatic with your customer service.
Building trust is a given in our industry however despite our clients being satisfied by our services and the products we offer financial advisors rank extremely low with only about 22% of people trusting financial advisors. The best way to increase trust is by being transparent and offering a choice and clarity about the product and process. Effective communication is fundamental in building trust in any relationship. Some advisors indicate to me they just tell their clients what to buy because they know better. (I've heard these people referred to in the USA as a FIG's I'll let you google that one) however, the old adage that:
So even if you know what products your clients should buy you should still be open about their other options so they know you considered all their options and used that intel to select the ideal solution. Today people have so many choices with anything they buy they are worried about the opportunity cost of picking the wrong one.
Read about this in more detail in or article about The Psychology of choice in the insurance buying process
- Refer First
- Small Gifts
- Referal as a Service
- Ask at the end of every comunication
- Set goals
- Process, Process, Process
- Referral As A Service
- Survey Tool
Offer referrals to your COI first. Make it mutual so they feel the need to reciprocate. This is where building a trusted COI is important, let's say you find out when doing their life insurance they don't have a will you can help them take care of this without having to do anything. It makes working with you easy and provides them value.
One of our subscribers sends 2 can dine movie tickets to clients, it's not as much about the value of the gift as much as it is the thought and a movie night or dinner out free can feel like you are getting the gift of time(the excuse to go see a movie or grab a bite) your clients are often just like you and me not taking enough time for themselves. Send me a referral and I send you to the movies incentives do not have to be a trip to Bali, they just have to let the person know you appreciate them thinking of your business.
If you have the budget there are lots of out of the box referral reward programs that take care of the heavy lifting in terms of admin work to fulfil the incentive however even a free SurveyMonkey or MailChimp account should have enough basic functionality to facilitate this kind of campaign.
Have a newsletter? Ask for referrals with a banner or collection form in the footer (the bottom of the email). This way when content is appreciated your clients and prospects can share with their friends family and colleagues. Here is our call to action to sign up for our newsletter found at the end of every blog, we also encourage you to share, so please share with your industry colleagues!
without a goal you may get a few referrals but you may be leaving some on the table. Set a SMART goal for how many you want & make it juicy with a roadmap on how you will get there.
Set reminders in LDA or your CRM or your calendar to ask for referrals at a prescribed time after the sale. By making a new trigger for yourself it helps you break out of your hypnotic rhythm and learn a new behaviour. If you make a process consistent you can more easily measure the results and make adjustments.
Tools that help make you more referable
Counteless times I have heard from clients that before an advisor even finishes their presentation the client has said they want to work with them due to how much work they went through to put together such a complete presentation of their options. Having the right tools to communicate with your clients and show them you invest in your practice to perform your due diligence goes a long way to becoming referable.
Some advisors will find that LDA more than fills the role of their CRM for managing clients, getting birthday and policy reminders. However, there is a large group out there who want more from their CRM, tools like calendar booking via link, email and marketing automation. A CRM is an excellent tool to use to become referable. It can keep you on top of client communications and help you share the right message with your clients at the right time. Look for a CRM that has marketing automation and integrates with many services as this is going to help connect your customer regardless of their preferred platform.
Linkedin and/or any other social platform is critical to your strategy. Make sure you have a customer-centric profile, not a resume-centric profile to ensure that when you are referred by a client you have portrayed a professional image and have useful content that can nurture that lead. If you have a polished online presence you are instantly more referable. Don't stop there, online you have to ask and tell people to refer you so don't be shy and make it part of your CTA (call to action)
If you have the budget and want an out of the box referral program you may want to consider services like Referral SaasQuatch or Ambassador these programs cost money but releive the admin work if you find that you are getting too many referals to administrate the reward.
We don't know what we don't know. It's important to find out how our clients feel about our services. Find out where your strengths and weaknesses lie. At LDA we use Survey Monkey to perform our annual survey. A key metric to look to is your net promoter score (NPS) as to how willing friends and family would be to recommend your services. You could use a survey tool like this to gauge the temperature at your practice and also use it as a collection mechanism to administer a referral program (we also use survey monkey to capture our monthly webinar registrants.
In conclusion if you want to acquire new sources of revenue using your existing block you need a referral strategy. In the vein of practicing what I preach, I want to make sure that if you enjoyed this article or enjoy using our software to share this article with your colleagues and encourage them, nay insist they Sign Up Free!