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How to get more referrals...

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Aug 29, 2007
Regina, SK, Canada
I'm not sure how many of the people on this forum use referrals to get more business, but I use it a lot in mine, so I figured I would post some of the things I do that help me get more referrals in my business.

At the initial prospecting meeting I have with clients I plant the seed with them. I do a little dialog with them...the whole getting to you stuff. At the end of me telling them about me and my business, I always say, "and my goal is to give my clients such great service that you are going to want to tell all their friends about the work I do." If the prospect is a referral I'll throw in "and as it turns out that's how we met." I find that some people don't realize that you are actually looking for new clientelle if you are successful. I've gotten the 'well you always seem busy with your work, so I didn't think you needed any more clients'. By telling them up front you want them to tell their friends about it, it kills that one right away.

During the second meeting, in my case the fact finding meeting, I will again plant the seed for referrals by saying "The last time you bought a car and started driving it around, did you start to notice all the other people driving the same car?" Most will say yes. "Well, financial planning is fairly similar. Now that we've started talking about your finances and (specifically whatever I am talking to them agreements, retirement planning, etc), you will likely start to notice more conversations around you about it." Some will interupt me right there and say "yeah, you know just today I heard Bob at work talking about XXX". Without even asking I've gotten a referral right there. If they aren't so kind as to dish them out without being asked, I will continue by saying "So throughout our proccess of doing your planning I may ask you if you've ran into anyone in similar situations that might be interested in what I do. Is that ok with you?"

At any point after that (but not too often), when I notice that the clients seems to have found great value in something that I've done or something that I've told them. The one way I make sure I've shown value is right off the hop I will over deliver on the one big question I ask all my prospects first "What is your biggest financial concern?" If you can over deliver on their biggest "weakness" and show them a solution to overcome it, it's like handing them a brick of gold. I'll start by asking them shortly after we've finished up what we were doing "so, how have you found the proccess so far?" By asking right after they have found value in something you are more likely to get a postive response. "What have you found to be of the most value so far?" By getting them to think of the great things you've done for them, they will be more likely to want to share those great things with friends or colleagues. "Now as I mentioned, I want to build my business with people just like you, **Insert a description of your target market while paying the client a small compliment like: a young successful (whether they are successful or not, make them feel special) entreprenuer that is just starting a family**. Can you think of anyone that is a similar position to yours (sometimes I'll insert a memory jogger, like 'that you work with" or "that has recently had a baby") that might find that same value as you have?"

After they have given the names, as the client what the best way to contact them would be "Now what do you feel is the best way to contact Jane and Billy? Should I just call them directly, or do you want to talk to them first to introduce me?" If they want to want to talk to them first say "Can you get a hold of them within the next couple days? I like to try to follow up on things for my clients right away." I also have a canned referral introduction letter I send out if the client really doesn't feel completely confortable with calling the person. The letter/e-mail will be sent out signed and with the return address from the cleint as though the client wrote it. The letter is fairly simple and more of less says, "I just wanted to write you to tell you about the great experience I had with Chris Chisholm, an advisor with XXXX. He explained everything to me in simple terms and kept my best interests first. He also helped me do XXX (product/service plug relating to prospects/clients situation) and helped create a plan to make sure that I will have money at any of the times I will need it most in life. I think you would find a lot of value in the work so I asked him to give you a call. He will likely be contacting you within the next few days. If you would like to get a hold of him before he calls to find out if the work he does is of value to you, you can reach him at (123) 456-7890"

30 days after a slae is completed or a policy gets delivered I will send them a follow up letter (with a self addressed/stamped return envelope..if they have to pay postage they are less likely to return it) thanking them for the business and include a short 'customer satifaction' survey asking how they found the entire proccess, if everything went as smooth as I told them it would be, if there is anything they weren't satified about, etc. If there is anything that they are unsatisfied about, I will follow up immediately (like within 24 hours). If it's something that is in my control to fix (like they weren't sent a certain document) I will fix it immediately and send them a $10 gift card to a coffee shop or store that they frequent. If it's a very minor error, like a mispelled name, I won't send a gift card. Fixing the problem is one thing, but over delivering gets you referrals! At the end of the survey I will put a blurb about referrals, like "Is there anyone that you've recently came across that might find value in the work I do?"

On an annual basis I will call them up to arrange an annual review. During this meeting (or the phone call if they don't want to meet in person). I will again review what they set up, what has changed since we set it up (opportunity for crosssells), and review the the value they found and lead into asking for a referral.

A couple other things that I will do is send out birthday cards (for the clients and their kids), anniversary cards, and Christmas cards. Every once in a while I might e-mail or mail them an article that I came across that would be of interest to them with a little sticky note saying something like "Came across this recently and thought you might be interested in it". The article will ussually have absolutely nothing to do with my work (IE: If my client loves to golf, I might send them an article from a golfing magazine with golfing tips, or if the client loves to cook, I'll send them a recipe or something) and never asks them for business or referrals. These little things show that you actually care about them as more than just a paycheque and keeps your name on the top of their minds. Between the annual reviews and all the cards, I in contact with my clients and their families anywhere from 4-7 times a year alone, not to mention sales appointments.

I've found that these methods have worked great over the last few months for building my business. I'm sure most of these things can be used in just about any type of sales position. If anyone has any other best practices I'd love to hear them!

Did you find value in this article? What was the best part? Can you think of anyone that might also find value in the work I do? j/k haha

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Jul 27, 2007
Washington DC
Great advice.
just curious, what tool do you use to track all your customers and the extra information you get from them?


Aug 29, 2007
Regina, SK, Canada
I use a program called CDS (Client Data System). Not sure about others, but it's got some cool features, like you can link it to your phone and it automatically makes an note of when you called the person. If you want to add extra notes about the outcome you can in the same notepad.

I've heard a lot of people mention Goldmine, is there a website or something to check it out?

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