Partners in Prospecting

Call Me: Five Simple Steps for Obtaining Referrals

August 18, 2021

The most streamlined source of new business is to develop opportunities with existing clients, including asking them for referrals. Most Advisors tell me they under-utilize this source of new business and if they had a process to obtain referrals seamlessly, their Assets Under Management (“AUM”) would increase.

There is nothing like having your client or friend, someone who feels you have met their needs and expectations, trusts you and values your work to open the door for you. An introduction is the best way to break through the corporate filters.

Please make sure to check with your compliance team regarding your firm’s policies and procedures regarding obtaining referrals.

 Referral Mining: 5 Step Formula

  1. Overcome the fear.
  2. Know when to ask and make your timing a repeatable habit.
  3. Be clear to whomyou’d like to be referred.
  4. Know how to ask.
  5. Say thank you multiple times.

 Overcoming the Fear of Referrals

  • Speak with all of your clients. Happy clients and those that are unhappy. A mechanic wouldn’t ask for a referral before he fixes your car. In the same way, you wouldn’t ask for a referral unless you helped your client and fulfilled your client’s needs. Both happy and unhappy clients can help you in this regard.
  • People that are happy with your products and services want to help others and this is a way for them to add value.  The unhappy clients can also be a great sense of referral, once you ask them why they are unhappy.
  • Keep it casual. Ask whether your clients have any friends, colleagues or associates who are looking for an Advisor. Referral requests don’t have to feel like cold-calls.

When is the best time to ask for a referral?

The best time to ask for a referral is when you have delivered value and demonstrated your capabilities; simply, when you have earned the right to ask your client for a referral. This can happen at any time of the client engagement:

  • When you’ve delivered a great idea.
  • When you’ve had a great or bad meeting.
  • When your clients express appreciation for your work.
  • When they have purchased from you.

Your Referral Request: How to ask a client for a great lead

How you ask for a referral depends on the context in which you are asking and your own personal style. Make your request in a clear, conversational tone that reflects who you are.

Your referral request should be clear on:

When speaking to a client about giving a referral, it is important to remind them as to why they became a client (and have remained a client) in the first place. For example, they may say that as a small business owner, you helped them save money by recommending new product or insurance strategies. You can ask them if they know like-minded clients and even offer to send an e-mail directly to the prospect (as long as your client obtained the prospect’s permission to send an email). Remember to obtain permission to use their name. This way, the onus is on you to approach the referral. Keep the e-mail short and to the point*:

Dear Ms. Smith,

Dalia Jones recommended I reach out to you as she thought you, as a small business owner like her, may be concerned about your insurance strategy. She indicated that, like you, she had the same concerns. She said we not only saved her money suggesting a new insurance strategy, we also gave her peace about her succession planning.

I’d be happy to discuss your own individual situation in a quick call next week and I’ll call you on Monday morning to discuss further. I am looking forward to connecting.

Show your appreciation to the client who gave you the referral

  • Update the client who gave you the referral once you’ve connected with the client they recommended.
  • If the referral becomes a client, send a thank you card (handwritten and mailed works well) and if permitted after checking with your Compliance Department, send them a token of your appreciation.

As usual, there is a song in the title of this blog post. What is the song and who is the band who sings it?

About Jennifer Kuta

For more than 25 years, I have worked with Advisors helping them build their businesses. My commitment to you is to partner with you in your practice and offer solutions to help build your business.


*Contact your internal compliance policies to ensure prescribed disclosures and unsubscribe mechanisms are included in your referral email.

The contents of this blog are the personal views of the author and not necessarily the views of Caldwell Investment Management Ltd. The contents are provided as general in nature and should not be relied upon nor construed to be the rendering of advice. Readers should consult with their own compliance/legal advisors for advice on their specific circumstances before taking any action as sales and prospecting activities are subject to regulatory oversight.

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