In a successful referral-based business, your ideal clients are not just those you enjoy working with but those who enjoy working with you. In fact, these clients think so highly of your business that they become advocates for you.

Here are the five elements that must be present for your clients to be effective advocates:

  1. The client sees enough value in their experience.

    Ask yourself: What do they value about their client experience? What could be improved to make their experience more enjoyable? What aspect of your services do they perceive as most valuable?

    Sales trainers often coach advisors through a series of uncomfortable “one liners” that seem to put pressure on clients to refer. We believe it is not a client’s job to refer, but it is the advisor’s job to provide an experience that is referral-worthy — with the natural result being more referred clients.

  2. The client is aware of all your products, services and resources — not just the ones that they use.

    How often have you discovered that a client turned to another financial professional for a product or service that you could have helped them with? And when you asked why they didn’t come to you, their answer was, “I didn’t know you did that!”

    Like many relationship-based advisors, you are likely providing exceptional service. However, your clients develop a definition of “what you do” based upon what you have already done specifically for them. Therefore, as their needs change, they tend to seek help from others.

    This limited understanding of what you do can significantly limit the number of people your clients can refer to you. Your clients won’t be recommending that their friends talk to you about a particular service if they aren’t even aware you provide that service.

  3. The client understands that you welcome additional clients and knows how to identify those you can best serve.

    When asked why they don’t refer their advisors to other people, clients frequently answer that they didn’t know that their advisor was seeking new clients. Another common answer we hear is that cli¬ents don’t know whether the person they may refer is actually someone that their advisor would take on as a client.

  4. The client knows how to make an effective introduction.

    How many times have your clients told you they gave your name to a friend and then you never heard from the referral?

    A referral needs to be an introduction to be successful. Remember, working with a prospective client isn’t a selfish endeavor. It’s an opportunity to help someone with a specific need. Only through a formal introduction from your client can you begin to help that person in need.

  5. The client doesn’t find the act of referring so risky that they become uncomfortable with the topic of referrals.

    Make sure you know which clients feel comfortable referring others and which clients prefer not to refer. If you’re uncertain, you may end up tiptoeing around all of your clients. By doing so, you successfully avoid those who won’t refer, but never fully embrace those who will.

    As a result, your most “promising” advocates don’t become “effective” advocates.