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Free of charge: Are you easy to refer clients to?

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This short article looks at how referable your business is. Only one in five clients are asked for referrals, reflecting a lack of confidence from the supplier. Written by Nathan Williams of Customer Return this article provides some though provoking commentary and ideas. (PDF file, 2 pages, 351 KB).

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Unformated preview of the document: 'Are you easy to refer clients to?' (Part 1):

Are you easy to refer clients to?
Following the GFC, lead generation has become more important than ever with renewed focus on
generating referrals from existing clients. However, with consumers more cautious than ever before,
how do you make it easy for clients to refer you to others?
Given the volatility in investment markets, disappointed clients and advisers' reluctance to ask for a referral in
the post GFC environment, it is now more important than ever to strengthen relationships with existing clients,
reinforce your value and build a business that is easier for your clients to refer on to others.
Do you have the confidence to ask for a referral?
Unfortunately, some advisers have hang ups about asking for referrals because they don't really know what
the client thinks of their service. If you don't know what the client thinks including their likelihood to refer you to
others, then there is a natural inclination to shy away from the referral conversation.
Our research indicates that only one in five clients are actually being asked to refer onto others – this
demonstrates a lack of confidence in how to handle the conversation. The irony is that a number of these
clients also said they would refer after being asked the question...they've just never thought about it before!
If, in finding out about your client's experience with your business some issues and complaints are uncovered,
don't worry – when handled correctly, complaints are the perfect opportunity to salvage a situation and make
your business more referable. While it may sound counter-intuitive, you actually want to uncover as many
complaints as possible to make your business more referable. If your clients are apathetic and you aren't
receiving any feedback, that's when you should really worry. You need to 'earn the right' to ask for a referral
before you actually do.
Acknowledge the fears of others
When looking to build referrals with either existing clients or COI's, you need to acknowledge the fears of your
client and the COI in the process. They will be thinking....how do I know this is going to be a positive
experience, or indeed, is this person going to 'hurt' me in some way by not looking after my client, or will the
whole process take up too much of my time etc.
To overcome these fears, it's important to quantify and continue to demonstrate your level of service so they
will have more confidence in the process. Educating clients on your referral processes and the outcomes of
any introductions is key – including following up referred clients promptly. Communicating the result of the
interaction with referrer should also build their trust and confidence in the process.
A successful outcome with a referred client strengthens the existing relationship and should lead to more
referrals from the original referrer. Our research shows that clients more likely to stay with their adviser, but
less likely to refer their adviser to others than in years gone past. So while this bodes well for retention, it
presents challenges for generating referrals and these need to be acknowledged.
2 | P a g e
nathan@customerreturn.com.au 1308/109 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000
0410 471 200 02 9347 2436 02 9347 2437
Mindset vs Tactics
All of this starts with having a referability mindset and wanting to serve your clients in such a way that they go
on to become advocates for you. You need to look for ways to add value and trust that the more value you
provide, when combined with an effective client contact process and referability strategy, will lead to more
referrals and a more referable business for you.
A good client relationship and trust is the precursor to referrals. Without this, all the tactical ideas on how to get
referrals and seminars, networking etc will have limited success. Tactics such as financial incentives or
invitations to events are easy to copy. A proactive client contact process combined with a referral mindset and
a superior client experience is not – that's where the real competitive advantage lies.
How do I trigger the opportunity to talk about referrals?
Have a value discussion at the end of every client meeting and get the client to articulate the value they've
received. You need them to be saying 'I never thought of that before' or 'thanks, that's a great idea now you
mention it'. These are 'value recognising statements' and a perfect trigger to gain permission to brainstorm
with them about who else may benefit from your expertise.
The key is that you need to have the client tell you

Unformated preview of the document: 'Are you easy to refer clients to?':  Part 2