The best way to get referrals from clients, including financial advisor referrals, is to always have a reason to call.
Who should listen: This episode is for sales professionals who want an easy way to ask for referrals that gets results.
Key idea: The key to remaining top of mind, nurturing clients, and acquiring client referrals, is to create opportunities for offline conversations.
John Turner started his lifelong career in finance and sales as a young man selling very large bibles with his grandmother door-to-door in the hot Southern sun. As he recalls, it’s in carrying those heavy loads of books that he learned how to sell, how to take a no, and how to stay resilient.
Having spent 13 years at Charles Schwab, where he learned to manage portfolios and sell annuities, John developed a system for an IMO (independent marketing organization) that grew its annuity business from $300M to $750M. After that, he took a startup firm to $250M in annuity sales in 3 years.
Today, John works with broker-dealers, RIAs, insurance carriers, banks, and Wall Street firms, educating financial advisors about the benefits of annuities and how to tell clients a story that helps them see why they should include annuities as part of their wealth-management plans.
In this episode of Stay Paid, we ask John about how to develop relationships with clients and how he nurtures clients to provide him with referrals.
Always have a reason to call
We’ve consistently advised our clients and podcast listeners to follow up with their leads and to stay in touch with their clients. John sings the same song, only he makes a point of calling clients while they are still riding the high of their most recent experience with him—the submission of an annuity application. That’s when he can best capitalize on the trust he’s built and his clients’ satisfaction with his service to ask for a referral. (More on that in a minute.)
The lesson is to always have a reason to call. If you’re a financial advisor, you’ll want to touch base with your clients at least twice a year to report on how their portfolios are performing. But are there other opportunities—other reasons—you can identify and use to call? Work these reasons into your strategy, put them in writing, and share with your clients what they can expect from you.
The same tactic applies if you’re a real estate agent. As we mention in the episode, sellers especially want to know what progress is being made toward the sale of their homes. Set an expectation based on reasons to call. Let your clients know that you will call them when x, y, or z happens, or you’ll call them once a day to update them.
But you can also be creative when developing your reasons to call. When you listen to the episode, you’ll hear about a doctor who created a reason to call his patients that is so unexpected and so appreciated that his practice is consistently referred by patients.
Become your clients’ raving fan
We mentioned that John uses his critically timed status call to ask for referrals. In addition to providing his clients with an update on their application, he uses the call to let his clients know that they are precisely the type of clients he wants to work with.
While our conversation with John didn’t evolve to discuss why a client may be so wonderful that he wants more clients just like them, we suggest that providing reasons to a client works to boost their egos.
By saying to a client that they are easy to work with, are in the perfect situation, or that they need this or that kind of help, John is letting them know he is their fan. That not only makes them feel good, but also kicks in a bit of reciprocity. It’s only after triggering that social-psychological response does he ask, “How can I get in front of someone else like you?”
When you tell your clients that they are exactly the type of client you want to work with and explain all the wonderful reasons why that’s the case, it will make them feel good and give them a reason to be nice back—and a referral is the perfect gesture. Furthermore, if you are truthful and specific about telling a client what makes them ideal, it stands to reason that you’ll increase the chance that you’ll get referrals reflecting those same characteristics.
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