Get to Know as Much as Possible About Your Clients.
The next big point – know your clients. I mentioned before it’s very valuable to personally know your clients and gift them something they really love after a referral. However, knowing your clients extends far beyond that.
Do you know where they all work? Do you know what their job role is? Do you know what clubs they are members of? How about what their hobbies are?
Remember, not only are they existing clients, but they are also resources too. One client could be a perfect link to another client. For example, I once helped my friend Don go from working with the HR departments in companies to being the C-suite guy for big fortune 500 multi-nationals.
For my company over the years, I had the HR Director for the largest employer in the state of Colorado as a client. Thanks to that contact, I managed to get invites to all of their huge employee events. They had 45,000 employees in Colorado. I basically had a carte blanche to do anything I wanted because the person in HR knew and loved me and my company. They did “payroll stuffers for me;” let me speak at their events; let me author a column in their internal newsletter; and more.
I also ended up with the President of a $780,000,000 Electronics chain; the McDonald’s regional director (who was on the Corporate Board of Directors); C-Suite Executives for the Denver Broncos and the Denver Nuggets professional teams; a number of professional athletes; several on-air newscasters, as well as behind the scenes staff, radio personalities, and more.
Well, without probing a bit and really paying attention, you often don’t know the valuable associations that a client may have.
Unfortunately, most advisors never figure out what their resources are, or they don’t see the opportunity when it’s right in front of them. The late author/speaker Chet Holmes talked about developing your “Dream 100 List.” As it sounds, that’s creating a list of who would be your “dream” clients and targeting them in a very focused way. It’s a great practice. Targeting prospective clients who are in positions of influence is ways that would benefit you is extremely valuable.
Use your imagination on that one, but imagine if you targeted the news producers and on-air talent in your metropolitan area. How about all of the C-Suite Executives in the top 50 employers? There are many possibilities but strategic targeting is better than hoping for the best.
Circle of Influence Marketing with Referrals
This type of marketing to benefit from your clients’ clients, friends, or associates is often referred to as host-parasite or host-beneficiary marketing. Within our industry, it’s more often referred to as Circle of Influence. I see most “Circle of Influence” marketing fail. Often, it’s not due to the sincere interest of your client or of a CPA, Business Broker, Attorney, or other professional to send you clients. More often, they just aren’t very good at selling their own service – much less yours.
I’ll make a quick note on this strategy. As with all marketing efforts, “start internally first.” In other words figure out who your clients are. Figure out what your existing resources (people) are that you already have relationships with. That’s much faster and easier than “cold-calling” a bunch of CPA’s.
Keys to Successful Implementation
That is not to say that a circle of influence success cannot be achieved, you just have to build it in a different way. You have to build it in such a way that you sell their clients on your services directly rather than waiting for them to accomplish it.
What I always try to accomplish is mailings that I put together directly to their clients, along with events and other resources exclusively for their clients. Of course, most people don’t want to just hand over their address book and that is completely understandable. In the past, I have written emails and forwarded them over. I have written letters, assembled the mail package added postage and then delivered to them to add the addresses.
I have written text messages. I have done automated voicemails. Whatever the case, you are not relying on them to market you, you are marketing yourself through them. By the way I wrote the letter for them to send with the suggestion that “I know how hard this can be, here’s a starting point feel free to use any, all or none.” Every time they used it verbatim.)
More Ways to Expand the Circle of Influence
For example if you have a series of books, you could arrange for one to be sent to each of their clients once or twice a year with an endorsed cover letter from the CPA or whatever professional you are working with. You could throw a joint event with about the impact of a new tax plan or other recent legislation. They could invite all of their clients and you could invite all of yours to a webinar or live event. Suddenly, you have a huge amount of potential crossover business that organically works as a relevant referral.
The basic principle of the circle of influence is that you are still selling yourself but earning referrals through someone else, whether that comes in the form of a meeting, event, or direct messages of some form. A client is not going to sell you or your business very well. A client’s employee is going to do an even worse job. So always be in control of your own brand and your own sales presentation.
Remember, referrals revolve around the person being able to sell you effectively to someone they know. So many businesses look to build this circle of influence, working out deals with people in exchange for sending clients their way. I cannot describe strongly enough how much this usually doesn’t work very well. It has never worked well consistently without giving the referrer an easy sales system that will get implemented. Referrals rely on a good relationship a simple sales process and implementation, not a financial incentive alone.
One example on this before moving on. I know an advisor who developed a relationship with someone who’s already rounded up a big number of Dentists. The host was impressed enough that the advisor was invited to speak at his live event with approximately 1,000 dentists. That created a huge number of their clients requesting his book. It turned almost immediately into 25 new clients and $25,000,000.00 in AUM. That was just the kick-off to the relationship that likely will end up generated $500,000 to $1,000,000 a year in ADDITIONAL Revenue to this advisor.
Pro Tip: Needy is a HUGE Turn-Off
This is an extremely important point to hammer home. Never beg for referrals. It just isn’t a good look for your business to come across as desperate. All it does is leave current clients and potential prospects wondering why you have to beg. Are you not doing well? Are you not good at your job? Should they look to work with someone else?
You’ve likely heard the old line, especially from the life-insurance training play book: “I get compensated in two ways, first directly from commissions from your purchases and second through the referrals of your friends.”
That’s the wrong approach for a variety of reasons not least of which is it focuses on YOU not of them. It focuses on you getting paid, NOT them helping their friends solve their problems and improve their financial situation. ALWAYS focus on the client and on helping them provide solutions for their friends. NOT on the client helping you out with your financial needs.
7 Quick Keys to Successful Referrals
Instead, you should give them an easy reason to refer and a simple path to help their friends come to you. Those really are the two pillars of referrals.
- The first element of referrals is combining rapport with competency. They should feel a real connection to you, your personality, and what you bring to the table. They should also be happy with the working relationship and with your professionalism.
- The second element is, instead of trying to bribe people and looking desperate, show appreciation after the fact. Show your thanks for the referral by giving them something they would actually love that shows your put some thought into them personally.
- The third element is showing honest appreciation for the referral itself. Send a personal letter to them, give them a call, or invite them out somewhere. Don’t just send an emotionless email or text, and definitely don’t forget to thank them altogether.
- The fourth element is creating a circle of influence. Use your contacts to create opportunities for referrals with joint meetings and events. Ask them to forward on your material such as books, newsletters, and podcasts to their own clients. Personal things they can gift clients, family and friends are best such as your book or other physical material.
- The fifth element is knowing your clients. You should know who they are, what they do, where they work, who they know, what hobbies they have and more. You never know how much value a client has until you actually look.
- The sixth element is to never ever beg for a referral. It just isn’t a good look for you.
- Finally, the magic number seven is constant communication. If you don’t communicate effectively with your clients, you are unlikely to get anywhere at all. You should be an active face and voice in their working lives. Emails, texts, letters, calls, podcasts, meetings, webinars, events, books, unexpected gifts and more.