The Easy Way To Get Referrals

Getting Referrals.  Hard or Easy?

Most professional advisors will tell you they work from referrals, yet how much truth is there in this?  When 100 advisors were surveyed in a top US city it was discovered that 16% made it a habit to ask for them, 22% asked for them occasionally and a whopping 62% never ever asked for referrals.  This is quite surprising, when getting referrals is one of the quickest and easiest ways to build a thriving practice.  Incidentally, when the advisors in the survey were subsequently asked whether they had ever had any training in obtaining referrals, 88% confirmed that they had not.

The Barrier to Success

The biggest barrier in obtaining referrals is the professional advisor’s mindset.  It’s easy to assume that asking for a recommendation is a straight forward process, and it is, yet often the core belief is one of embarrassment, difficulty and imagined humiliation.  On the other hand, if each advisor were to ask for just one referral a week over a year, that’s potentially 50 new client meetings that could statistically produce at least one new client a month.  If the advisor were to get really good at it, (in theory, this would automatically happen once it became a habit), imagine how much more new business could be brought annually year after year without the need for advertising or expensive marketing.

How do you ask for a referral and get it?

There are three simple steps to begin the habit of getting quality introductions:

1 - You need to confirm in your mind you really want them.  If you only think you do, then nothing is going to work no matter how closely you follow the instructions.  Desire is key.

2 - Whatever system or process you decide upon, you should follow the advice as prescribed and not amend the process - certainly not until you started getting the referrals as a matter of course.

3 - You should stick to the system for at least 90 days.  If it’s working early on, then this will be a breeze.  However, if you find it challenging you should keep going and give it your best shot.  You have nothing to lose and a significant amount to gain.

Suggested Ideas that Work

The Two-liner:

At the end of a client meeting where business has been transacted use your two liner. Here it is:

“As a professional advisor, I work purely from recommendations.  Do you know anyone else who would find what I offer useful?’”

Saying these two lines is easy enough, it just takes strong resolve to remember to say them every single time.  The more you say it, the easier and more natural it sounds.  Think of it this way, ultimately, each time you say it, it will probably equate to £2-10,000 in returns long term.  Isn’t that worth the small effort involved?  Compare it with not asking, and how much that negatively impacts on you; not having as many clients as you deserve, considering your qualifications, experience and expertise is not a happy place to be.

Even More Potent ‘Magic Words’

If you really want to go for it, then learn these ‘magic words’.  Repeat them again and again until they roll off your tongue.  The template is in two parts.  Part one is said during a meeting where business will be transacted and part two is said after the business has been concluded.  By the way, don't bother using this tool if no business is done because, invariably, the quality of referral from someone who has not bought is practically worthless. (No trust has been established, so why would they introduce you to anyone significant?)


“You may like to know that I make it a professional business practice to work by personal introduction.  The reason I get referred so often is that I like to think that…”

Two points.  First, you must complete the last sentence to suit you.  It could be, “…I like to think that I have a great deal of experience in this particular area”, or, “…I like to think that I can make a big difference in your need for XYZ.”

Second, once you say Part One, instantly change the subject and move on.   What you are doing is dropping a hint but not actually asking for the referral at this stage. This means the idea will now start swimming around in the head of the client, so when you bring up the subject again at the end of the meeting, they will probably already have thought of who to introduce to you!


This is said after the business is concluded.

“I mentioned earlier that as a business we tend to work by personal introduction.  Is there anyone you would like to recommend?”

Once you have delivered part two, say nothing.  Busy yourself with some paperwork or check something on your laptop, but allow them to be the first to speak.  Yes, sometimes you will hear, “Let me think about it” or “Can I get back to you?”  However, you will also actually get names and contact details too.  The biggest achievement is that you have asked the client, and that in itself will make you feel good.

So what do you do once you have the introduction?  Well, of course you need to follow it up, but when?  The strong recommendation is that, in an ideal situation, you should ask if it would be okay to call the person immediately, while the client is still with you.

Most clients will be happy to do this.  Explain that you would like the client to make contact with their friend before passing the phone over to you as a live personal introduction.  After all, wouldn’t the client prefer to make sure this introduction is done correctly and with the best intentions?  This bold, yet very professional method has the best chance getting your new referral in your diary for an informal chat (sometimes this feels better than the business transacted).

Finally, I make it a professional business practice to ask everyone who reads this article to share it with at least one colleague.  Is there someone you’d be happy to forward it to?





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