One you’ve identified a category or niche, there are a number of tactics that you can begin to use to achieve results. Experiment with more than one tactic and find the one that works best for you. Here are some ideas:
Incorporate referrals into your regular client conversations
Some advisors conduct an annual meeting with every new client. This is an opportunity to look back and review the progress that has been made over the course of a year. This process often leads to referrals. By reminding the client how you helped them with their financial situation, they are more likely to think about people they know who can also benefit from your expertise.
Be sure to ask those clients for permission to use some of their comments in a testimonial to be shared with new, prospective clients.
When asking for referrals, remember not to ask questions that can be answered with a yes or no. You will have greater success asking open-ended questions that lead to a discussion. There is a marked difference between “Do you know anybody else I should speak to?” and “As I build my practice, I’m always looking to share ideas and insights with other people [insert particular situation here].”
Be the first to refer
Sometimes the best way to earn referrals is to break the ice and provide them, first. This might be especially true for other professionals that your client might be working with, like a lawyer or accountant. By referring one of your clients to them, you demonstrate that the relationship can be mutually-beneficial. A two-way street gets far more traffic than a one-way street.
Bring people together
If you don’t have clients to refer, consider connecting professionals together. Remember: it’s the exchange of value that is important to building trust, not necessarily the exchange of clients or compensation. If people feel that you are motivated by doing them a good turn, they are likely to reciprocate later.
Finally, if one of your relationships has provided you with a referral, contact them to say thanks. This gives you a great opportunity to demonstrate how much you appreciate the lead. Further, it gives you an opportunity to hone the type of referrals they are sending your way.
Above all, asking for referrals is a natural and expected part of a professional services practice. Businesses don’t grow without referrals. Yet, many people continue to rely on passive approaches, hoping that referrals will naturally take place. They don’t. Get busy, get active, get referrals.
Craig Swistun is a Vice President with CC&L Private Capital Ltd. and can be contacted at email@example.com. CC&L Private Capital Ltd. is an investment counseling firm that provides traditional and alternative solutions to high net worth individuals, foundations and endowments, first nations and trusts. More information about CC&L Private Capital Ltd. can be found online here.