As financial advisors seek to grow their practices, many are turning to their existing clients for help in getting referrals and introductions to potential clients. Some are going one step further and are having clients promote and advocate for their business. And with good reason: client testimonials and endorsements can be powerful enticements for prospects seeking to understand the benefits they will gain if they choose to work with a specific advisor.
During MDRT’s annual meeting, Ravi Rajpal described a few steps advisors can take to turn their existing clients into client advocates. Rajpal is the founder of the firm, My Money Management, which offers a wide range of financial services, including financial planning, insurance, retirement planning, and wealth management. He is 17-year MDRT member.
“A client advocate is one who promotes you in your absence,” said Rajpal. “They’ll call you consistently to provide you with the contact information of the people they’ve referred you to. They promote you and your business – even when you’re not around,” he added.
Leveraging this approach deepens the relationship with clients and greatly increases the chances they’ll become lifelong clients, he added. In addition, taking steps to create client advocates will make advisors stand out from other advisors and increase their knowledge of different businesses and industries.
According to Rajpal, turning clients into advocates provides a wide range of benefits, including:
Giving back helps you grow as a person.
Providing clients with an opportunity to network with each other and listening to their conversations helps increase your knowledge of their needs.
Clients will realize that you are an extraordinary professional who strives to meet their needs.
You can get consistent referrals from your client advocates, leading to the growth of your practice.
The trust your client advocate has in you is a joyous experience.
Host events for clients
Rajpal uses several approaches to turn his clients into advocates. For example, his firm hosts networking events, such as high tea parties, or invites some clients to special occasions.
Twice a month, it also hosts lunch or dinner meetings with two or four clients who complement one another in either a professional or personal way. And twice a month, he added, they listen intently to what service, connection or introduction the firm can provide to meet its clients’ needs and wants.
“By taking these steps, we now have around 27 advocate clients, and they continue to give us approximately four to six referrals each month, with 90% closures,” Rajpal said. “Our advocate clients have a more personal relationship with us, leading them to invest surplus funds with our business.”
'Giving' generates referrals
Another advisor who knows a thing or two about turning clients into advocates is Susan L. Combs, owner of Combs & Company, a full-service insurance brokerage. Combs is also past national president of Women in Insurance & Financial Services, an author, and a speaker.
“We have always ‘given’ a lot to our clients; so, that’s why I think we get back so many referrals from them,” she explained. Here are a few ways in which Combs and her firm use client advocates:
The firm has a sample of its clients on its website, which it links directly to their websites. “We do this to show a variety of different industries that reflect our niche markets,” she said.
The firm often features them on its social media campaigns, “Wonder Woman Wednesday” or “Feature Friday”.
The firm promotes the work the clients are doing on social media. “This means we try to follow as many of them on social media and subscribe to their newsletters so that we can highlight the work they are doing,” she said.
“We advocate for them; so they advocate for us,” she added. “Our tagline is: ‘If you don’t know insurance, know your broker.’ And we have had many clients say that we explained things so that they could understand them and we always treat their business as if it was our own. We advocate for the best coverages, as well as take into account their budget and contracts that are in place. This has made them loyal to us and happy to refer us when the opportunity arises.”
Ayo Mseka has more than 30 years of experience reporting on the financial-services industry. She formerly served as Editor-In-Chief of NAIFA’s Advisor Today magazine. Contact her at [email protected].