Have you noticed how difficult it is to reach people these days? I’m sure you have. It’s hard enough reaching our existing clients, let alone prospects. The days of walking away with names and numbers (referred leads) are over. Referrals just aren’t enough anymore. We have to think in terms of Introductions.
Build a Culture of Introductions
Getting introductions is not just about asking for them – although that’s an important strategy. Think in terms of creating a culture of introduction – where your clients know how to talk about you, know who you serve the best, and create engaging introductions (where the referral source is totally committed to creating a connection between you and the prospect).
Neal Bristol is an extremely successful advisor in Canada (#2 in his firm) who has created a culture of introductions. From the beginning of his career, Neal formed the habit of creating personal introductions – mostly over lunch, but occasionally over another meal or at a hockey game. When a client mentioned someone in his or her life, Neal became genuinely curious. Once it looked like he could be a valuable resource to this friend, colleague or family member, Neal would say to his client, “I would love to meet your uncle Ernie. Can I take the two of you to lunch?”
I was just in touch with Neal – getting permission to tell his story – and he told me, “Next week I’m going to lunch with a client who is bringing 6 other friends to introduce me. Also, I bought a cabin last year and have been hosting clients and their friends on weekends to help build my relationships with existing clients and meet new ones at the same time. My goal is to make it as easy as possible for my clients to provide personal introductions to their friends through lunches, presentations, cabin getaways, etc.”
Neal has been using personal introductions for so long, now clients call him and say, “Neal, I have lunch for us.” Meaning, “Neal, I have someone I’d like to introduce to you.” Have you built a culture of introductions or are you just dabbling like most people?
Making Email Introductions Work
There is no substitute for an in-person introduction. That’s the highest form of introduction. However, those are not always possible. Enter the email introduction.
Have you noticed that most people return email messages faster than voice mail message? Getting introduced through email is a viable strategy, but never assume your referral source knows how to craft an email introduction that will result in a solid connection. Follow these six steps to maximize the effectiveness of your email introductions:
- Prepare an email introduction template. Make this as easy as possible for your referral source.
- Discuss what the source thinks he or she needs to say to the prospect to get that prospect to reply to your email or take your call. Help your source think through this introduction. Words matter!
- Briefly discuss how the source thinks the prospect might react to the introduction. Anticipate possible objections, so the source’s email or your email nips the objection in the bud.
- Adjust your email template based on discussions from steps 2 and 3. Send the template to your client for adjustments.
- Create a time frame for the introduction. Create a verbal agreement.
- Ask your source to cc you on the email. Don’t assume he or she will remember to do this. I recently coached an advisor who had a client send 10 emails out on his behalf (or at least that’s what the client told him). But because he wasn’t cc’d on the email, he had no next step.
Whether you ask for them or now, always think in terms of Introductions. Be assumptive: “How would you like to introduce me to George? What do you think you need to say to him to get him to take my call?”
I’d love to hear your thoughts, questions, and best practices related to this topic. Please send them directly to me at my email address: BillCates@ReferralCoach.com.