Overcoming the Five Barriers to More and Better Referrals
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When you immerse yourself into a niche and surround yourself daily with information and people connected to that niche, like I have with financial advisors, you can’t help but develop a deep understanding of their needs. Something I’ve noticed that continues to be overlooked or brushed over is knowing the answers to five significant, distinguishing questions.
Every advisor I speak to struggles to answer at least one of these questions in a way that would be beneficial to their referral efforts. I totally understand why that is, but it illustrates the need for advisors to up their marketing efforts…especially their referral tactics.
And here’s why.
Let’s look at this from a 30,000 ft view. Everyone wants more referrals. But nobody wants to ask for them. So you focus on providing great service hoping that will do the trick. Your clients love you but they’re still not referring you as much as you would like. COIs aren’t referring back to you either. What or who is the common denominator?
It’s your responsibility to empower and engage people to refer you. It’s your responsibility to make it easy for people to refer you. You can’t expect people to know the answers to these questions if you don’t know the answers yourself. Knowing the answers and teaching them to others is the recipe to not only getting more and better referrals. These questions are in no order of importance because they are all important:
1. How would you describe your ideal client?
This question focuses on your ideal client, not necessarily your only client (unless you have a well- defined niche). The challenge here for most advisors is to eliminate any industry jargon. For example, you might want your ideal client to have $2 million in investable assets, but the average person referring you will never know the details about someone’s investable assets. Plus, all too often an advisor says they want one thing and yet they are willing to accept another, adding confusion for those trying to refer.
The goal is to create a clear image or profile that is easily identifiable and triggers someone to think of people they know who meet that description. Clarity breeds accurate referrals. Confusion is the kiss of death.
2. What makes you and your firm unique?
What is your unique selling position or value proposition? The key word here is unique. As an adjective, unique means “unlike anything else.” Look at that definition closely. Too often when I ask an advisor this question, none of the responses qualify as unique. Common phrases that do not qualify include: “we are a one-stop shop solution,” “we provide customized solutions,” “you’ll get measurable results,” “the best client experience,” “we do everything in your best interest,” “expert advice,” “personalized approach,” and so on.
These phrases don’t qualify because many of your competitors say the exact same thing. It’s not unique. It might be what you do, but it’s not unique. Knowing what makes you unique sets you apart. It gives the people who want to refer you something they can tell people that makes you more interesting, more desirable and more special. My clients usually need a lot of help with this one, so dig deep.
3. Why do you do what you do?
This is all about getting in touch with your “why.” Why? Because it’s personal and it’s your story. It belongs to you and no one else can share your exact experience or path that led you to this place in your life. In fact, this story of yours is a part of what makes you unique. When you and others share your story with people, it humanizes you and connects you to the heart of the person hearing your story.
One of my clients recently shared his “why” story with me that took some work to uncover. He always felt drawn to work with people entering the final chapters of one’s life. As a young man, he worked with his dad in an assisted living facility where his grandmother was a patient. He remembered his gratitude for being able to spend quality time with her as he also grew attached to many of the residents, fascinated by their life stories yet disheartened with their tales of how they ended up there. As he wrote out his story, he became emotional remembering the feelings attached to why he became a financial advisor and a long-term care specialist.
Connecting with and, more importantly, sharing your why is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your business.
4. What makes someone not a good prospect for you?
It’s normal to be focused on what makes a good prospect for you. However, it’s just as important to know what makes someone not a good prospect for you. One of the reasons why you tend to receive sub-par referrals is because people lack a clear image of what you want and what you don’t want. I know this is a tough question because some advisors hate to put parameters around who they will accept as a new client. However, these same advisors will complain that they receive referrals that are not what they want. Something has to change. I suggest a good long talk with yourself to determine what types of clients don’t really work well with you.
Some of my clients have listed personal qualities and characteristics that they prefer to avoid. Perhaps you can make this list as well and again, share it with others. If you want people to refer you remember, the more they know, the more likely they’ll get it right. That will in turn make them happy because they want to get it right and you’ll be spending more time with good prospects.
5. How would I know if I’m talking to someone who could be a good prospect for you?
You might be thinking this is too similar to what I’ve already said, but hold on. There’s a method to my madness…there always is. This question puts someone standing in the middle of a potential referral for you because they are actively engaged in a conversation. On that note, as I said earlier, you’ve got to make it easy for people to refer you.
The answer to this question should be words, phrases or questions that they might hear the other person say. Don’t make this complicated. Keep it simple. It’s intended to be easy for people to remember so that when they hear these statements, they realize that person could be a good prospect for you.
Find some time to reflect on these five important questions and write out your responses. Focus on simplicity and clarity. Eliminate jargon. If you keep this information to yourself it will have zero impact on your referral marketing efforts. It’s meant to be shared. If any of these questions hang you up or the thought of sharing it makes you feel stuck, don’t be shy. My contact information is below.
Michelle R. Donovan is a referral/business coach, speaker and partner of Productivity Uncorked LLC. She helps financial advisors fix their referral issues and build a robust business with coaching, consulting and DIY Courses. Michelle’s books have become Wall Street Journal best-sellers, Amazon best-sellers and published in seven languages. Email Michelle at [email protected] or connect with her on LinkedIn.