Referrals can be the life’s blood of a practice.
They can also be the advisors achilles heel.
So how can your advisors not suffer death by referrals – and how can you build your PVP-Peerless Value Proposition® at the same time?
Kirk Lowe is a sought after expert on branding for financial services. He is the “Brand Guy” at Top Advisor Marketing.
Kirk is dedicated to demystifying and simplifying financial marketing. He regularly shares his insights and advice on his podcast Top Advisor Marketing, and offers DIY marketing resources and courses at AdvisorU.
Over 17+ years in financial branding, Kirk has worked with independent advisors, RIAs, IMOs, and BDs helping each find their unique points of differentiation then bring it to life in their marketing. Hiss clients have spanned the United States, Canada and Australia.
Death by Referrals
Advice about referrals is killing advisor’s practices. Old school methodologies and expectations are just plain wrong in today’s environment. It’s an epidemic and it’s painful.
The 5 Deaths
Death #1: Too many referrals
Let me tell you the story about Mike S. He has been in the business for 30 years. Has 350 clients. Averages 10 referrals/mth. You’d think that this would be pretty exciting news. Mike only gets one worthwhile referral out of those. That one lead is hard to close because Mike’s marketing is not built around what he does; it’s built around what everybody in his organization does. There is less perceived value to his ideal audience than there should be. He does everything for everybody. So when the perfect client comes along they don’t immediately understand they’re a perfect fit.
Death #2: Too few referrals
If you’re starving for opportunities to talk to people who you want to do business with, this is a problem. Desperation sets in and that influences other decisions you make – especially marketing. You are more likely to spend good money after bad on silver bullet marketing. You’ll spend time and money on one-off tactics trying to solve your prospecting problem.
Death #3: Referrals that are not ideal prospects
If you’re getting opportunities to people who don’t work to your ideal profile, then you’re just wasting time trying to deliver value to people who you don’t completely get or you’re not completely committed to. You’ll struggle to attract and keep these people.
As noted above, Mike’s situation has him spending most of his time helping juniors create value instead of helping himself add value to ideal clients (and prospects). Mike could be working with these advisors to create more value in his business instead.
Death #4: Too much asking for referrals
Do you really think clients enjoy you asking them for leads? Do you think they appreciate the scripting that you put before them? They don’t. Find another way.
Try earning their referrals and making it easy for them to talk about you. Inspire referrals.
Death #5: Not being referable
If you’re not referable you’ve got a massive problem that you need to deal with before you do anything. Are you great at what you do? Does your target audience care about what you do great? Are you fulfilling your capabilities with each and every client? Is your value tangible enough for clients to recognize and share?
Why People Refer & The Story Of MIC
There are two reasons that people refer.
- To be helpful.
- To look good.
The psychologist Fritz Heider created a theory called “the attribution theory”. His conclusion is that people’s behaviors are based on personal motives. People don’t just do good things for the sake of doing them. They do good things because it makes them feel good to do them. With that in mind, you can ask yourself, “What would make my client look good or feel good about referring me?”
The Story Of MIC
MIC stands for My Ideal Client. MIC is your ideal client. MIC has not referred you to any new business in several years.
There are three reasons why MIC doesn’t refer:
1) MIC doesn’t know WHO to refer to you. MIC does not understand your ideal client profile. MIC doesn’t understand what value you offer to that ideal client profile. Even if there are 10 prospects in MIC’s network they wouldn’t know them to see them.
2) MIC doesn’t refer you because they don’t know HOW to refer you. MIC doesn’t know what to say. MIC doesn’t know how to set you apart. MIC doesn’t know how to introduce you so that their friend/colleague/relative actually listen and hear the difference. “That sounds like an interesting opportunity or professional. I’d like to know more.”
3) MIC doesn’t know WHERE to refer people to. People don’t want to be referred to your office for a meeting. They want to be referred somewhere that they can check you out. It needs to be non-committal and easy to do on their terms. They want to know what your website address is. It’s a non-starter if your website doesn’t look great or it’s not intriguing or engaging, and it doesn’t speak directly to that person. Do you have a podcast? Do you have a blog? What are your social channels? Are you active there and do you share personality, community and expertise? How does your network make introductions and where do they make those introductions to?
Do you know how to inspire referrals from MIC?
You do it by building trust. Face-to-face is no longer the first mechanism for building trust – that’s the new reality. Trust is most often built online. It’s built while you are not even in the office or when you’re not around. It’s built on your web site, through your social channels, through places where you share your wisdom – your podcast and blog. It’s built at 6:00 AM as your ideal prospect is having their morning coffee and it’s built at 10:00 PM as they are winding down with their tablet in their lap.
Trust is built through their community and friends.
Building Referral Momentum
The focus of your organization should be the lifeblood of your organization — that is, being referable. Make it easy for people to refer you. Teach them who to refer you to. Teach them how to refer you, what to say, and where to refer them to.
You do this three ways:
1) You start by building a story that intrigues them.
2) Then you create content and resources that proves your brand and engages them.
3) Then you share that content which influences them, and attracts more.
When these three things happen, that’s when you develop trust, expand your network, get introductions, and inspire more people to refer you.
Invest in the future “You Incorporated.”
Building momentum in your marketing is more important than going from one marketing thing to the next. Invest in marketing that builds sustainable momentum.
Written by Kirk Lowe