How to Get Referrals without Sounding “Salesy”
Even people who sell for a living don’t like to feel like they’re getting “sold,” right? Maybe that’s why so many of us find it difficult to ask for a referral. After all, we’ve just finalized the agreement, the contract is signed, and the check may even be in the mail. Why ruin all that positive energy by asking for one more thing?
But maybe the secret to a solid flow of referrals is … not asking. We should probably explain.
Everyone who is in a service-focused business knows that gaining a referral from a trusted source is like finding gold. Here’s another important fact: the best and most solid referrals are those that come when you haven’t asked for them — at least, verbally. In fact, non-verbal referral requests are typically some of the best leads you can get. Not only that, it’s really hard to come off “salesy” when you haven’t said a word!
So how can you ask for a referral without asking? It boils down to three key components:
1. Believe Deeply in What You Do
This is the starting point — after all, RIAs don’t get into the business because they want to generate commissions or because they want to win sales contests. They get into the business because they believe they can help and because they believe clients deserve the best, most up-to-date counsel for their investments, their financial planning, and other aspects of their lives.
Advisors are motivated by a genuine desire to aid people in reaching their most cherished goals, whether they be philanthropic, retirement-related, or providing security for the next generation. That desire to help others succeed? That’s your “why.” And you need to share your “why” with as many people as possible. If you do that, and if the way you conduct your business aligns with your “why,” you’ll take a huge step toward never needing to ask verbally for a referral. Why? Because everyone who needs your services wants to work with someone who sincerely desires to help them succeed.
2. Embrace the “Power of Three”
Knowing your “why” leads naturally to the next step in gaining no-ask referrals: keeping in touch. At Beyond AUM, we sometimes call this the “Power of Three: Contact, Care, and Community.” Examples of the Power of Three might include writing three “just checking in” emails daily; sending three handwritten notes each week; making three “no-reason” phone calls every day; or popping in three times a month to say hello to someone you’ve recently met, accompanied by a small gift or card that communicates that you care.
Simple activities like this, performed consistently over time, can guarantee that the next time one of your contacts is talking to someone and the topic of financial planning comes up, your name will come to mind.
3. Repay the Referral
There are probably dozens more ways to cultivate no-ask referrals, but we’ll end this article with one of the best: be a generous referrer.
Do you know a barber or hairdresser who makes you feel great every time you see them? Make sure that you give them tons of referrals. Is there a mechanic you admire for unfailing honesty, fair pricing, and timely service? Who doesn’t want to know about that person?
And the same goes for CPAs (who should already be in your professional network), attorneys (ditto), physicians, yard care professionals … you name it. Make yourself a fountain of referrals for people you genuinely trust. Guess what happens next? Those who have received the gift of a referral from you will often feel a responsibility (at least) and even joy (at best) for returning the favor.
And you won’t even have to ask.