Financial Advisors: Stop Asking For Referrals to Unicorns!

One of the biggest challenges to getting significant numbers of high quality referrals (remember quality isn’t measured by their readiness to buy right now, but, instead is measured by the level of relationship with the person referring you) is that most Financial Advisors, and other #salepeople, keep expecting their referral partners/clients to do their job for you.

I used to be a member of an organization that had an expression that ‘being a member of “referral group X” was like have 20-35 salespeople’…nothing could be farther from the truth. This type of pandering to people that are afraid of selling is repugnant. Here is the reality: how long did it take you, the full-time financial advisor, to be able to not only know you products and services at a competent enough level to discuss them with a wide variety of prospects, and be able to have the marketing and sales skills to even get the appointment?

Here is where I get so frustrated with the generic referral training out in the marketplace…it is almost all focused on how to avoid selling by hoping that you can get people that don’t get paid to grow your business to do your job: Identify specific prospects (by name) and have the professional selling skills to be able to handle an appointment with someone that you would really like to have as a customer without requiring them to (a) be in the market to switch advisors on the spot and (b) only carry on a conversation designed to discredit and ‘kill off’ their current advisor. Neither of those situations are attractive to the best referral sources and clients, the ones that will refer you when you ask, and will lead to less production over time.

Stop Asking For Referrals to Unicorns

Your homework: Do your job if you want to experience the amazing power of #referralmarketing

  1. Know your target market prospects by name. You should have a list of exactly who you want to meet. For example, if you specialize in surgeons, you should already have (and be updating regularly) all the surgeons in your geographic area in your database and be tracking who you currently have relationships with that also is connected to your prospects.
  2. Stop asking for referrals to Unicorns. If you are using the terms ‘anyone’, ‘someone’, ‘who do you know who’ you are failing as a professional and you are making your referral source not only do the work of getting you the introduction…you are making them figure out WHO you want to meet. #beashamed. People can, with almost 100% regularity, figure out if they know the person you are asking to meet by name. You need to move as quickly as possible, with people that will actually refer you, from WHO to meet to HOW to meet. Once you have a specific person to discuss being introduced to by a referral source…finding out the specific way to get introduced to that prospect becomes alot more tangible and less risky/scary for your referral source to consider and then execute upon.
  3. Insist on the reverse with the people that you want to help by #givingreferrals. Don’t them do the same bad job of being a professional and put the work on you. If you really want to help them (and your absolutely must want to give if you expect to get significant referral business) make them tell you exactly WHO they want to be referred to. The massive bonus of this practice, if you have read earlier blogs of mine, is that you will be training them on how to help you better with their enthusiastic support. Note: being able to get the time to train your best #referralsources is the key variable on referral performance, and there is no better way to get that training time than to have it be focused on directly impacting them.

Add this to your mindset: I will make it easy for my best referral sources to refer me more and better by letting them know exactly WHO I want to be introduced to and trust that if they know that prospect we can discuss HOW to meet them. By the way, this type of conversation often prompts unsolicited introductions as your referral sources will often say something like this: “I don’t know George, but, I do know Amy in the same company and she and I have lunch once per week.” Being specific accelerates trust and trust increases referral quantity and quality.

That is the first step to developing a better #referralmarketing plan. The magic of a written and complete referral marketing plan is that it is the right thing to do for financial advisors that want to grow and enjoy their business. After all, you do financial plans for your clients? Why don’t you get the same help for your business. Start with your favorite client and practice giving.

All the best,


Are you ready to grow consistently and profitably? There is a path to growing your financial services business that is simple, fun to execute upon and highly profitable for both individual advisors and teams of advisors: A custom referral marketing plan for you and/or your firm.

We help firms grow through referral marketing consulting that designs powerful systems and provide the coaching and training to make those systems work better and faster. Don’t hesitate to reach out for a chat, ask to speak with a client that is already on the path, or, to just get a few questions answered. We love helping financial services professionals love their job and love their life.

How to reach me:, or, 540.314.5665 (cell)