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Yes! You Can Ask for Referrals Without Begging and Without Hurting Relationships!
by Bill Cates

How do the affluent want to meet a financial professional like you? One recent study surveyed over 4,000 affluent individuals. It determined that the affluent would prefer to meet you either through a referral from a friend or colleague or through a referral from a CPA or other trusted advisor. This article will give you my proven strategy for asking for referrals from your affluent clients (all your clients for that matter), without begging and without hurting the relationship. If you think that your affluent clients won't give you referrals, think again. Not all will, but a significant percentage will - especially if you met them through a referral.

Some Say You Can't Ask
There are a few "marketing gurus" who will tell you that you can't ask for referrals in today's marketplace. Please - don't listen to them. They're wrong. I've taught several thousands of financial professionals my simple method for asking for referrals and thousands are using it effectively to generate referrals. No - you shouldn't ask for referrals the old way - the producer-centered way; but you can ask for referrals in a client-centered manner. That makes all the difference. The VIPS Method™ for Asking for Referrals
  • V - Discuss the VALUE they've received.
    Near the end of a client meeting (in person is better, but over the phone can work fine), ask your client what they find most valuable about your relationship, the work you've done, or what are some of the more important things you've accomplished (together) thus far. Discuss their value perceptions. Be genuinely interested in their response. Probe for clarity. Don't "tell" them the value you have brought to them; get them to tell you in their own words.
  • I - Treat the request with IMPORTANCE.
    You treat the request with reverence in three ways:
    • Make sure you have enough time to have the conversation. Use an agenda for every meeting and put the item "Value Discussion" on the agenda - to make sure you do it!
    • If you met them through a referral, remind them.
    • Use confident words, body language, and tone of voice. Try saying, "I'm glad you see the value in the work we've been doing. Because of that "I have an important question to ask you."
    When you enter into this conversation from a value discussion and treat the request with importance, you are coming from a position of strength. You know the value you bring to your clients and you want to bring that value to others.

  • P - Gain PERMISSION to brainstorm for introductions.
    It's important that you get permission to talk referrals and that you set it up as a "brainstorming session." You're not begging for permission. In a confident way, you want to get buy-in for this conversation. This softens up the request just enough so your client won't feel put on the spot. You don't assume they want to give you referrals. You ask them, and you let them say "no." The dynamic of brainstorming means that this is a collaborative process. You may know of people they don't think of and you can qualify the folks who come to mind to make sure they fit your practice.
  • S - SUGGEST names and categories.
    Come prepared to this conversation with a few suggestions. When you "prime the pump" with an idea or two, you're more likely to be successful. You don't want to throw open the entire universe to them. They'll likely draw a blank. Stimulate their thinking by suggesting names of specific people (or categories of people) whom they've mentioned previously. Using money-in-motion questions or other trigger questions to stimulate their thinking.

Here's What It Might Sound Like
YOU: So, Bob. We've talked about quite a few things over the past couple of weeks. I'm curious, what stands out as being the most important or valuable thing we've done thus far?

BOB: Well… I'd have to say that the most important thing is helping me get clear on a few things. I feel more clear and confident about my financial future. I now realize, if I follow your strategies, I should be able to have enough money to send my three children to private universities and still retire quite comfortably. As you know, I had been quite concerned about that. I also have a better handle on how I want to care for my family once I'm gone.

YOU: That's great. I'm glad you're finding value in the work we're doing. You know, if it wasn't for George, we wouldn't have met, nor had a chance to do this important work. I guess we both owe George some thanks.

BOB: I've already thanked him.

YOU: Good. You know, with that in mind, I have an important question to ask you.

BOB: Shoot.

YOU: I'm wondering if we could brainstorm for a few minutes to see if we can identify some folks you care about that you think should be aware of the work I do? Would you feel okay talking about that for a minute?

BOB: I suppose so.

YOU: Since we're just brainstorming here, I'll throw out a few ideas for us to explore. Last week you mentioned your sister Barbara. Maybe we can start with her.

BOB: Actually she might be a candidate for what you do.

YOU: Great. I'd like to learn more about her and we can talk about the most appropriate way for me to meet her, but first… There's a concept I call "Money in Motion" that might help us determine others you know who might truly need my help. For instance, like yourself, who do you know who's just recently sold or is thinking about selling their business?

BOB: Nobody comes to mind right this minute.

YOU: That fine. We're just brainstorming. Let me run another idea by you. We do some very important work for people who are in the mode of changing jobs. Who do you know who might be in that category?

It's really as simple as that. You need to find the words that work best for you. Just make sure you touch all the bases.

It's best to come to your meetings prepared to talk referrals rather than to wing it. As you prepare your agenda for your client meeting, think a little about what the value discussion might sound like. Be prepared for that. Then think a bit about whom you know who they might know. If you have thought through this conversation a bit, you'll be more confident - less likely to wimp out - and you'll be more effective in getting referrals.

Bill Cates is the author of Unlimited Referrals and the creator of the Unlimited Referrals® MarketingSystem. Bill works with producers and their companies to increase sales by attracting high-quality clients through a steady and predictable flow of referrals.

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