Getting good referrals can be tricky, but is key to building your business.
Richard Peterson, a medical doctor and managing partner of MarketPsych, recently told the CFA’s 2012 Annual Wealth Management Conference the referral process can be broken down into five categories:
1 Reconnaissance – Ask clients how they feel about your services and what they value about your relationship.
2 Establish an exchange of services – If a client has met their investment return targets, discuss how well the relationship has worked and how much you’ve enjoyed helping them. They may be inspired to help you in return through referrals.
To further establish this connection, offer to help clients meet other goals — if they recently sold a business but still want to be part of the community, offer to help them set up a mentoring group through your connections.
3 Functional feedback – Let clients know you’re open to helping them in new ways. Figure out what complimentary services you can offer, and come up with a few ways to better serve your target markets through their responses.
4 Emphasize your excellence – If your clients are happy with specific services you offer, such as your ability to offer valuable insurance and risk advice regarding their businesses, let them know you loved doing so. They may refer others who need the same services, and they’ll be aware you’re passionate about it.
5 Requested referrals – If a client does refer a friend, make sure to let them know you followed up on introductions, and thank them.
At times, though, pursuing referrals either directly or indirectly can rub clients the wrong way, says Peterson. A long-standing high net worth client, for example, might see it as crass.
You don’t want to lose this client, so periodically reference how well the relationship is going instead. If they agree, they may feel inclined to refer your business. But let it happen naturally. Don’t push.
Also, try forwarding some of your written work or a link to your blog if they’re interested. These are often shared with friends and might pique some interest from those connections.
Read: How to win referrals
When Peterson’s needed additional support and resources, he says he’ll refer clients to his network of accountant and lawyers to ensure the best possible service. A side benefit is that some valuable prospects have come through such connections.
If you’re looking to increase your network, don’t exclude other client bases. If you’ve specialized in a certain niche—such as entrepreneurs, family businesses or recent retirees—try offering complementary services to other similar markets. Do your research and identify other markets that fit with your skill set and resources.