I am often asked about the role staff can play in generating referrals. Here are a few things for you to consider – and then implement (not just consider).
Referral generation begins with referability; the referability of your process, your advice, your service, and the overall client experience. Obviously, every staff member plays a significant role in making every aspect of your business more referable.
Here are some questions to ask yourself and your team (that turns into a great checklist of things to do).
1. Does your staff truly know and can the communicate the value of the work you do?
2. Are you becoming referable quickly? Do you and your staff deliver the best possible prospect experience – bringing as much value as possible even before the prospect becomes a client?
3. Do you and your staff put your new clients through an onboarding process that makes them feel great about their decision to work with you?
4. Do you meet with your staff – at least once per year – to review and adjust your client service model?
5. Does your staff have an “attitude of service?” Are they looking to provide the “wow” factor to your clients whenever possible?
6. Is your staff well trained on how to deal with client complaints? (For most humans, dealing with complaints is a learned skill; very few come by this naturally. Don’t leave this to chance.)
7. Does your staff understand the importance of client acquisition; especially through referrals and personal introductions – so that they see their role in the overall picture of client acquisition.
8. Does everyone in your firm realize that the ultimate measure of a client’s satisfaction is their willingness to tell others? (While not all clients will provide referrals, unsolicited referrals are a great measure of your referability.)
My referral system can be boiled down to two main elements: be more referable and be more proactive. Can your staff members be proactive for referrals? Absolutely! And, of course, how proactive they become will depend on their personality, their training, and their confidence.
Most staff should be expected to promote referrals as often as they can. Whenever a client expresses satisfaction, the staff member must recognize this and then promote referrals with such statements “Don’t keep us a secret” or “We’re never too busy to see if we can be a resource for others you care about.”
Only some staff members will have the personality to ask for referrals. For those who do, this can be a boon for an advisor’s practice. Make sure they learn the VIPS Method® for Asking for Referrals. To receive a summary of the VIPS Method, send an email directly to me with the words VIPS Method in the subject line. Send that to BillCates@ReferralCoach.com. I’ll get that short report out to you right away.
Some advisors like to provide incentives – individual or collective – to their staff for engaging in referral-stimulating behaviors. These incentives can be direct financial compensation or perks such as extra time off and/or gift certificates to restaurants.
Real-Life Case Study
Elizabeth is the marketing director for a financial advisor. (We’ll call him George.) George will not ask for referrals. Just flat out refuses. Elizabeth knows what opportunities are being missed, so she’s taken it upon herself to master the referral process and fill the void left by George’s fear.
Here’s what she does:
1. She visits with prospects and clients as often as possible when they come to meet with George, to building her relationship with them.
2. She follows up with prospects and clients after meetings.
3. She gauges client satisfaction with meetings, process, and/or overall relationship.
4. She asks for referrals – in person and over the phone.
In summary, get your staff on board with your efforts to acquire more and better clients through referrals and personal introductions. Make sure they all know their role in building a thriving referral culture.
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