3 Proven Ways to Increase Your Referrals
by Bruce Stava
As a Licensed Banker, one of the greatest benefits of your job is the number of prospects you encounter every day at work. This flow of prospects is the envy of brokers and insurance agents everywhere, who understand just how difficult it can be to find a qualified prospect even once a day. However, studies have found that the average platform rep often does not do enough on their own to create the absolute best kind of prospect-the referral. Everybody knows that referrals are the most effective way of growing your business, and most everybody has some explanation why they don’t have an organized system to create more referrals (“I’m too busy with branch customers: I don’t feel comfortable asking my customers for their friends’ names” etc.).
There are 3 sources of referrals that you need to develop. The first is your branch’s staff-tellers, other platform employees, and the branch’s Financial Consultant. The second is your existing customers, especially your “A” list of clients. The third is outside your branch and customer base, and consists of professionals and businesspeople with whom you interact every day.
Develop a branch referral plan: Do all of the tellers and platform bankers in your branch know exactly what it is that you do? Do they truly understand the benefits of the investment products you offer? Does your Financial Consultant interact with you daily? All of these sources need to be addressed in a regular and systematic way, and the best way to start is to meet with your branch manager and arrange a monthly/quarterly business and activity plan. This should include your making a brief presentation at each weekly staff meeting accompanied by regular one-on-one coaching sessions with all of the branch employees to explain your role and answer any questions they might have. Needless to say, the monthly contribution of lunch for the staff (courtesy of your favorite wholesaler) goes a long way to gaining branch goodwill! Ideally your manager should work with you to help develop referral goals for the branch, as well as recognition and rewards for high performers. Setting up a game plan with your FC can also lead to increased referrals, and often the “too small” prospects that are sent your way will turn out to either have more assets to invest, or know somebody that does!
Your customers should be your advocates: Many LBs are reluctant to ask for referrals from their customers because they either think it makes them look unprofessional or they are afraid their customers won’t like being asked. The reality is that a trusted financial advisor is something that people cherish, and will be happy to recommend to their friends, however it is not something that they go around their day thinking about. Your job is to insert your “personal ad” into conversations with your customers in a natural manner, and make sure that you don’t spend all your time reminding them of what you do, but rather ask them about people they know who might be unhappy with their current financial advisor, and offer to help them. In particular you should focus on the 10-20% of your customers who are your “A”-list. These are people with whom you already have a great relationship-tell them how much you appreciate their trust, and simply ask them for their advice on how you can meet more people like them! Lastly, a good use of wholesaler support is to arrange a regular customer appreciation event, whether a breakfast, lunch or dinner meeting, or even better, a social event like golf or an art exhibit at a local gallery with refreshments. These events need not be overly large and complicated, just focused on your very best customers-ask them to bring a friend, and make sure you’re ready to follow up on the leads!
Always be networking: On any given day you come into contact with people outside of your branch, from your drycleaner to your dentist to your pool cleaner. Ask these professionals about their business, and let them know that you appreciate the job they do for you, and are always looking to send new customers their way. Then actually refer your friends to them, and you will have a naturally evolving source of mutual referrals.
Take some time to think about these three referral channels, and decide which are the strongest for your particular situation. Then write down a short plan describing what you intend to do, how you intend to do it, and what sort of referral results you want to result. Share this plan with your branch manager, and then go make it happen. I guarantee that your business will grow more, and that you will enjoy it more, as your referrals increase.
Bruce Stava is the President of LicensedBanker.com, the first website dedicated exclusively to providing Jobs, Tools and Resources to Platform Investment Representatives and Management. Bruce can be contacted directly at (562) 438-5591, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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