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Program News | March 25, 2022

The Best Way to Respond to Referrals

Often we treat it as a given. A client has referred someone to us, so we reach out to set up an appointment. Simple as that.

But as an advisor, your referral channel is your single most important source of new business. Why wing it?

Much like prospecting, referral onboarding benefits from having a clear process. It enables you to deliver a consistent experience across the board (even if you hand it off to another member of your team), while setting the right tone for a successful onboarding and a solid client relationship.

Here’s what we’ve seen is to be a good framework for referral onboarding:

  1. First Introduction

There are a few boxes to check when you first introduce yourself to a referral. You want to provide a primer on your practice that’s easy for them to review in brief, and you want to show personal attention and gratitude. 

This usually translates to an introduction letter (or email if you’re reaching out online) with some compact collateral that shows your professionalism, foregrounding the tangible qualities and features that have made you refer-able in the first place. Finally, be sure to clarify next steps. Include a meeting scheduling option or a heads up that you’ll be reaching out personally. You may also want to share a meeting agenda or any pre-meeting checklists or questions. 

  1. Value Presentation

During that first meeting or video call, build on the foundation laid in the first introduction. Present more of the details of what you do, what makes you qualified to serve their needs and what you offer that’s hard to find elsewhere.

It’s just as vital at this stage to leave the referral with more than just words. Have more detailed collateral to share, and maintain the personal connection through any communications surrounding the value presentation (like follow-up emails or meeting confirmations).

Depending on your existing processes, this meeting may also serve as your “client discovery.”  In that case, while it’s still important to share more about your capabilities, ultimately it’s about the person you’re in the process of onboarding. 

So this can be a good time to polish up your discovery process as well—is it repeatable, interactive and engaging? Is it generic or does it reflect your area of specialty? Is it limited to risk tolerance and investment targets or does it explore other topics?

  1. Welcome Kit

There is an initial burst of excitement when a referral makes the commitment to become a client. And you can strengthen their sense of optimism by making them feel like they’re part of an exclusive club. 

A welcome kit will explain what they can expect next and clarify the service commitment made by you and your team. It’s about personally welcoming the new client into the fold, while giving them something to talk about when they start sharing the news with others in their circle. This can help kick off a client relationship that will lead to even more referrals.

We’ve grouped these three stages of deliverables together into the Referral Onboarding Program, so that we can help advisory firms implement a simple, systematic process for referral relationships. Reach out for more information on what’s involved.

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