The ONLY referral that Works… and why all the other referral advice is worthless

Why don’t you get more referrals?  Your clients love you.  They know you are smart and provide great service.  We assume they like their family and friends.  So why don’t they refer more?

The answer is pretty simple.  REJECTION.

It’s why all the other referral systems don’t work.  I’ve read over a dozen books touting that they had cracked the code on how to get referrals… and hundreds of articles claiming the same thing.  They are all the same drivel repackaged.  Worthless advice that does not work.  It’s because they don’t put themselves in the client’s shoes.

We don’t like rejection, but it is part of our job.  However, rejection is NOT part of being a client… so they are not going to put themselves in a position, where they might be rejected.

Think about it.  They go to their friend or family member and say, “Bob!  You gotta work with my advisor!  He’s awesome!  He’s been getting me great returns for the last 8 years.  He’s created this fabulous income plan that has more money coming in than we ever dreamed possible.  And boy, or boy, does he take good care of us.  You have to sit down with him!”

What is their friend Bob going to say?  “That’s OK, I got a guy.”

How does your client feel?   Rejected.  When will they refer again?  Never.

Now don’t get me wrong.  If someone ASKS your client if they know a good advisor… then they will absolutely refer to you.  But, then we are just waiting passively for that miracle to happen.  It’s why we get a few referrals every year… but don’t get them on a regular basis.

Or maybe you have that one guy in a hundred that loves to bird dog for you.  Loves to talk you up.  Terrific!  But how many of your clients are like that… and how long before that guy runs out of friends to talk to?

You need a referral system that is active instead of passive… and above all, predictable.  After 35 years in the professional sales business… I finally found the one referral that actually works.

You must make them want to refer for their OWN benefit… not yours… not their friends… but for themselves.

How do you do that?  It’s NOT by offering compensation for referrals.  It’s been tried.  It doesn’t work.  People feel “dirty” getting paid to sic, what they are afraid their friend will think is a salesperson, on them.

Instead, here’s what you need to make this referral technique successful:

  1. It has to benefit your client at the gut level. It must help them avoid something that would be very unpleasant.
  2. It has to be apparent to them, that the benefit is for them alone… and that you will NOT benefit by selling their friend something.

This second one is tricky.  I mean, we do want a referral so that we can bring them on as a client… and eventually sell them something, right?  Otherwise, what’s the point of the referral?  Don’t worry, we will sell the person they refer something… but it cannot be the first thing we do.

So, your client must believe they are referring their friend or family member to receive a NON-financial service or value.  Something that has NOTHING to do with what you get paid to do.  Nothing to do with investments, insurance or investment software.

The reason for this is that your client will be willing to refer their friend or family member, if they think it is for something valuable, that has nothing to do with money.  They aren’t comfortable referring, if they think you are just going after the money… and as we said, they know that the person they refer will reject them, if it’s just about the money.

What I use to achieve this is a list of 7 NON-financial things that are simple to take care of up front… but if not taken care of… could cause big problems down the line.  Time… money… and hassles.

Using a NON-financial offer makes the referral easy.  Here’s how it would go:

  • Give your client the NON-financial benefit (in my case the 7-item checklist) … at no cost. Simply a value-added benefit that you are now offering to your clients.
  • Walk through all the negative consequences that would/could happen to your client if you hadn’t helped them by giving them this benefit.
    • Have them realize the time… money… and hassles you have helped them to avoid in the future.
  • Then simply say:
    • “Do you have anyone in your life that looks to you for advice… or comes to you for help… maybe runs things by you?
    • “Would you like me to do these NON-financial things for them too… because if we don’t, who are they going to ask for help and drag into their problems… all the time, money and hassles? Who do they look to for help?”
    • “Would you like me to take care of these NON-financial things for them… so that their problems… don’t become YOUR problems?”

They make the referral because it helps them avoid the HUGE problem of being saddled with helping out a loved one, when this thing happens to them.  They will actually schedule the appointment with the referral for you!  No chasing… they schedule it for you!

Now this does not work with all clients.  It only works with clients who have family or friends they help out.  That may only be one out of 5 of your clients, but they will give you multiple referrals.  And the kicker is… when a Center of Influence makes that referral… schedules that appointment for you and the person they are referring… how good is that referral?  It’s as good as done.

About Mike Kaselnak

Michael Kaselnak is considered one of the top marketing and sales experts in the financial services industry. He has personally mentored over 300 financial advisors in the past 10 years. These financial advisors saw their average production increase by 62%. Many saw increases of over 300 percent. He writes articles that have appeared in many mainstream magazines and has written the popular report 300 Financial Headlines that sell.
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2 Responses to The ONLY referral that Works… and why all the other referral advice is worthless

  1. Stephen Antic says:

    Mike:

    I have enjoyed your suggestions over the years as a member of your mailing list. thanks for all of good ideas..

    My son joined me recently in the business and as a result is looking for referral ideas and this one’s got my attention.

    Question: do you have a sample of the seven non-financial questions list that he might be able to utilize with his clients to gain referrals?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Stephen Antic

    • Hi Stephen! Those questions would actually be confusing to you, because they are talking about 7 parts of the 21 things my guys using the 5Q system address. Without context they wouldn’t make sense to you. For you and your son, think about what you can do for your clients… that your client would NOT want to do for their friend or family… something that would be a big hassle for them to have to handle that they would prefer you handle for the person that they would refer.

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