Earn them Instead
Virtually every practice growth guru I have ever come across utterly demands that you ask your clients for referrals. They say you should ask, ask often, offer incentives, and throw parties. But, I say you should view asking for referrals like you view marketing: its goal is to eliminate its need. You should only ask for referrals if you are not already getting them. If you are getting them, then better to improve their frequency and quality by earning them instead of asking for them. Not asking for referrals is itself a strategy. Asking for referrals is distasteful for advisor and client alike. Not asking gives you some mystique. Clients will think, “Maybe he already has all the clients he needs? I hope he will accept my referral.”
I am ashamed to say that I have said to clients, “Send me some business.” I have tried the “I get paid in two ways, commissions and referrals.” I have even tried the, “Who do you know that could benefit from my services?” I even know one trainer who claims he tells his clients that he will not work with people who don’t respect him enough to send him referrals. Makes me want to puke. I prefer the high road. Rather than asking for referrals, I want to earn them, and earn them I do. About 50 a year, which is about all my advisors and I can handle. I earn referrals regularly, and I teach my advisors to do the same. Here’s how.
“Healthy sheep reproduce naturally.” – Chuck Smith. What he meant was that healthy Christians will win new Christians to the faith all on their own. Pastor, evangelist, church planter, and author Chuck Smith was the founder of Calvary Chapel, the newest major evangelical Christian association of churches (domination) in the United States. The Calvary Chapel Movement, as it was once known, was born during the mid 1960s in southern California when Smith began evangelizing the youth of his generation and teaching them the Bible, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book.
He believed that once a person was successfully evangelized (that is, once they had accepted the good news of the Christian faith), the best way to reach others was to a). disciple his new converts in the basic doctrines of the faith by teaching them the Bible; b). love them like his own children by spending lots of time with them; and c). meet their spiritual needs with effective counsel and guidance. Once he began to raise and nurture his sheep, they became a large, healthy flock. And, as he so aptly put it, ” Healthy sheep reproduce naturally.”
Build Your Congregation
Chuck Smith founded what many consider the healthiest and most effective American church growth movement in a century. As financial advisors, we are in a similar dynamic. Our parishioners are our clients. Our pulpits are our seminar lecterns and conference room dry boards. Our doctrines are the principles of financial planning. Our ministry is loving and caring for the financial needs of our clients. Our counsel and guidance is the advice we give. In a sense, every investment planning practice is a financial church, so to speak, with a congregation of hundreds of families to watch over and care for. This is the key to earning referrals.
Treat your book of clients like a pastor treats his congregation. He tends his flock with love and care, patience and gentleness, generosity and kindness. He empowers them by stretching them and teaching them the deep doctrines of the faith, so that they can be resourceful and effective decision makers in their own right. He creates a vibrant atmosphere of continual personal growth that compels his members to want to share their experience with those they love and care about. He makes his church a safe haven for the lost and broken who want to come in from the cold.