There are two times people will think to refer you – and, no, when you ask is not one of them.
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They are just after they have a positive experience with you and when a friend expresses a need for a solution you represent.
Clients will talk about you after a meeting or interaction, providing it's memorable. The good thing about this is that you don't have to do much to prompt it beyond giving them an experience worth talking about. People naturally discuss with friends what's been happening recently. If you take care to create a positive experience, you have done what you can. Ever get an unsolicited referral from client soon after meeting with them? That's this effect in action.
The bad thing is this effect does not last long. Maybe a day or two. A longer-lasting way to stimulate referrals is to have your clients associate you with some specific solution or experience. This is documented in Julie Littlechild
's report Anatomy of the Referral
. When asked the question "what were the circumstances of the last referral (you gave to your advisor)?" 48% said “because a friend asked for a recommendation" and 57% said "because a friend described a financial challenge." The key, then, is to define what solution you represent so clearly that when a friend expresses a need to your client you naturally pop to mind.
Your referral marketing program
should start with defining what solution or experience you represent. Define that in conjunction with clients and adopt their language for it. Using their language rather than our own industry specific technical descriptions helps them remember. It must be different than other advisors. It must be a reason your clients come to you specifically and not just to a financial advisor generally. Have a plan to communicate that description often and in different ways. Keep reminding them what you excel at and what you deliver.
Consistently drive that message deep into the clients memory. Once it's there, you will find your clients referring you more consistently. Our clients are presented with opportunities to refer us all the time. The question is whether they will remember to recommend you when the opportunities arise.