My Favorite Way to Get Client Referrals Using Gratitude

Have you ever felt uncomfortable asking your clients for referrals? I know I did the first five years of being a financial advisor and that's why I didn't do it that often. The way that we were taught just seemed so disingenuous and really awkward, at least it was for me. It was never natural; and maybe you feel the same way.

You've probably read some of the books and heard some of the various techniques to get more referrals. They just never fit my style until I learned about nine non-salesy referral techniques. In this post, I want to share one of the ones that I like the most. You can start using this technique in your next meeting and you'll see that it's a lot more natural. It's not awkward and it's not pushy or what you’d usually think of when you think about asking for referrals.

I called this referral strategy the gratitude technique.  It’s just a short one-minute or less conversation, and it results in two things:

  • It makes your client feel good.
  • It leads to more introductions to your ideal clients.

To understand why it works, first let's revisit why old-school referral methods don't work.

When you ask for referrals using traditional methods, it puts clients on the spot. It's an uncomfortable situation for them and for you. Our goal should be for clients to want to introduce others to us, not be forced to. The gratitude technique works because it's honest. You should only use it for clients that you really do enjoy helping, and that fit the mold of your ideal client. This also helps clients pre-qualify who they're referring, so that you're only introduced to those that have best chance of working with you.

Typically, you want to use this technique towards the end of a regular review meeting with your client when they've expressed thankfulness or just gladness for working with you. We want them to recognize the value that we're providing them.

There are three parts to this strategy:  

  1. Say something that makes them feel good
  2. Remind them why you do what you do
  3. Make a small offer to them

Here's an example of how the conversation might go:

 After the client expresses gratitude for your help, say: it really is a pleasure working with you. It means a lot for me to play the small role in your financial life.

Client: we're very glad we met you too.

You: thanks! I feel really grateful to do what I do. Especially when I'm able to help people like you. It really is a dream job for me. In fact, if you ever run into people who are like you, who might need help with planning for retirement, feel free to introduce us, if you think it's a good idea.

Client: we can tell that you enjoy what you do and we love working with you too. We'll keep an eye out for you!

And that's really it. It's a non-pressure ask. And it's a way of making them feel good because you really do love working with them and serving them. All you're doing is offering to help others as well.

Maybe it'll result in an introduction to other people, or maybe it won't, but there's no doubt that your client is thinking about you in a different way. Maybe it'll pop in their head when they're talking with one of their friends. You never know. You've given them a reminder to just be on the lookout for people like them: people who have the same issues that they had before they met you. And you did it in a completely genuine way.

And if you like this idea, click here to access the client referral formula, which includes eight additional ideas for non-awkward referral requests.


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