Consistent referrals are the holy grail of any sales enterprise. Building a business on referrals creates a loyal client base at a low cost of acquisition. The advisor has built-in credibility with the prospect. The prospect typically is not as price sensitive. And the prospect is more likely to refer you to another prospect.
In a pandemic world, referrals are more important than ever. The COVID-19 crisis has limited the ways we can seek new business. Your best clients are likely struggling to conduct business effectively in the new normal. Now is an excellent time to position yourself as a business-to-business connector. Your existing clients will begin to see you as a valuable resource for their business in addition to being an insurance or financial planning wizard.
So how can advisors give a proper and effective referral? Here are six ways.
You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Active listening techniques will help you better understand what your client is attempting to communicate.
Pay attention to facial expressions. The human face is very expressive and is able to convey an enormous amount of information. Noted public speaker Patti Wood suggests that when you briefly match facial expressions with your clients, it not only shows your clients that you are listening, it creates the same chemicals in your brain that body language shifts are creating in theirs. You will actually feel what they are feeling and understand them more effectively.
Look at the client directly, even if you are on a Zoom call. You do not have to glare at them and drool. Making eye contact 70% of the time indicates that you are engaged in the conversation.
Show that you are listening. Nodding is a great way to demonstrate that you are listening without saying a word.
Try to block out any distractions. Give the client your undivided attention.
Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal. Your goal is to identify and tactfully solve a problem, not win a debate.
Actively listening does not mean you have to be a confessional, psychologist or sin eater for your client. Your goal is not to be the emcee at the pity party. Your goal is to identify the problem and position yourself as a problem solver and resource.
Identify And Offer
After you have identified the root cause of your client’s pain and have made a proactive suggestion for a solution, adding a benefit you have experienced using the solution is even more powerful.
For example, “Amy, I hear you. These virtual meetings have become tedious. Have you considered a way to differentiate your company from the competition? We have been using a catering company that specializes in Zoom meetings. It has worked wonders. The meeting participants are happy and more attentive. They look forward to Zooming with us.”
By identifying the problem and offering a solution, you create a natural opening to give a referral.
Strong relationships are built on mutual respect. You must ask both the person to whom you are making the referral and the person who is receiving the referral for permission to make the introduction. Both parties will appreciate that you demonstrated respect for their time.
Make The Introduction And Provide Context
Both parties should be aware of the reason you are connecting them. This can be accomplished with a three-way email or through a phone call.
For example, “Amy, thank you for sharing your virtual meeting challenges. I want to introduce you to Chad. Chad is an award-winning restaurateur who, during the pandemic, has shifted his business to catering virtual meetings. We have successfully used his services in the past, and it has been a hit! Perhaps he can help you too.”
Similarly, prepare the receiver of the referral with the reasons you are making the introduction. For example: “Chad, I would like you to meet my client, Amy. Amy is struggling with the monotony of Zoom meetings. You helped me make my Zoom meetings better. Do you think you can do the same for Amy?” The introduction should also provide the preferred method and appropriate times for connecting.
Be A Facilitator
It is not your job as a connector to close the deal, but it is helpful to offer a small suggestion regarding how the two parties can meet. It can be simple. For example, “I noticed that Bob’s Bagels has reopened. Perhaps you two can meet for a cup of coffee?” This is a gentle nudge for the two parties to connect without creating an awkward interaction.
Get Out Of The Way
Your job is done. It is not your responsibility to be the director of marketing for Amy or Chad. It is acceptable to follow up to see whether you made a productive introduction. This information will help you become a more valuable connector in the future.
Giving good referrals is a rewarding skill. You will have the power to touch and change lives.
Giving referrals also will help you build a powerful network of thoughtful people. As a result, not only will your sales figures grow, but also your life will become fuller and more rewarding.