A long-held belief in the advisory industry is that businesses grow by asking clients for referrals.
That is a misconception. Stephen Wershing says in his new book that people make referrals all the time but they are not appreciated so we hijack the referral process for our own purposes.
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Asking for referrals is ineffective. This is because there’s no way to know when a client’s friend may be in need of your services.
This doesn’t mean referrals are not essential to growing your business; it does mean that a better way to approach clients is to get to know them well and satisfy a need that will differentiate you from other advisors.
Finding that differentiation can be a challenge. Most advisors tend to give the same story or pitch to gain clients.
Discovering a need—financial or not—that a client needs and then filling that need is a much more effective way to acquire a client.
For example, helping a busy executive diversify a concentrated portfolio after the sale of a business or becoming a specialist in helping widows through the grieving process earns advisors the opportunity to help clients with other issues.
Setting up a client advisory group can help you know what your clients may need and the approach you should take in filling that need.
Hiring an experienced facilitator or consultant to conduct advisory group meetings is an effective way to find out what client’s want. Facilitators and consultants can drill deeper
to get specifics and can ask sensitive questions.
It also prevents clients from thinking that the questions you ask are just another sales attempt.
The quickest way to grow your business is to find out what your clients need, then to give it to them.
Enlisting the aid of a facilitator or consultant can speed that process along and give you information you may not have been able to get from your clients on your own.