Posts Tagged ‘referrals’

The Delicate Art of Approaching Friends and Family for Referrals

April 3rd, 2014, Comments Off.

Demonstrate your value by telling stories of client success.

Work is frequent fodder for conversation between friends and family alike. When the topic comes up in your social circle, how do you describe the work you do? When you describe your practice to friends and family, be mindful of the fact that the words you choose may actually align with the art of gaining referrals. Friends and family are great prospects, and even if they are not likely to become customers in the near future, you can still gain referrals from them.

Your ultimate goal is to demonstrate the importance of the work you do and the valueyou bring to others. The best way to do this is by telling stories, sharing anecdotes and providing case studies. Most salespeople—financial professionals included—overlook the effectiveness of stories, anecdotes and case studies to demonstrate the importance of their work and the value they bring to their clients.

For a non-client to refer you to someone he knows, a very clear picture of the value you bring to others has to be realized. Be sure to describe the process you put your prospects and clients through. Provide specific examples of how you’ve helped clients prevent problems, solve problems and take advantage of opportunities:

  1. Discuss value: “George, are you beginning to see the tangible value we bring to our clients?”
  2. Treat your requests with importance: “Great. With that in mind, I have an important question to ask you.”
  3. Get permission to brainstorm: “I’m hoping we can take a few minutes to brainstorm about people you think should know about the work I do. Can we try that for a minute?”
  4. Suggest names and categories: “For instance, I think your business partner, Barbara, might be a great candidate for the work we do. Could you introduce me to her?”

It’s really as simple as that. The key is basing your conversation on the value you bring to the table. To accomplish that, tell the story of your value. If  you do a good job of describing the value you bring to clients in your practice, there’s a good chance that friends, colleagues and family members will want to become your clients, too.

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One of my coaching clients asked me the following question: “I’ve been meeting some people for golf over the last few months. They’re not close friends yet, but we get along very well. Some of them would probably make great clients. I’m not sure how to approach them for business. Any ideas?”

If you’re not comfortable approaching friends and family for referrals in a social situation, ask them to sit down with you, at a convenient  time and place, to discuss your practice in depth. Explain that you want to talk about expanding your business and acknowledge that you would appreciate some help. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to buy a meal, or cover a round of golf, for this meeting.

When you approach friends and family about a separate meeting, honesty is the best policy. The key is how you bring it up. In most cases, you want your approach to be soft. Let me give you a short script to illustrate my thinking:

YOU: “George, there’s something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about, but I’ve felt uncomfortable bringing it up here on the golf course.”

GEORGE: “What’s that?”

YOU: “I do very important work for successful people like yourself. I was hoping I might be able to approach you in ‘business mode’ to see if I might be a valuable resource for you or someone you know. May I give you a call at your office to begin a business conversation with you?”

GEORGE: “Sure. Here’s my card. Tell my assistant that I asked you to call me. She’ll make it easier on you that way.”

Of course, put these sentences in your own words, and be genuine. But you get the idea. The key is not to pressure your friends and family to help you. Express your desire not to hurt the relationship by putting any pressure on anyone. And always be yourself. Sincerity opens doors more easily than tricky techniques.


By Bill Cates

Bill Cates works with financial professionals and their companies to increase sales by attracting high-quality clients through a steady and predictable flow of referrals. To learn more, visit or email him directly

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Learning to “Celebritize Yourself” in Business

January 28th, 2014, Comments Off.

The digital age has brought with it limitless sources of information and the chance to become noticed through the loudspeaker that is the Internet. But in an ever-increasing crowd, it’s essential to know how to stand out.

That’s what Marsha Friedman’s book, “Celebritize Yourself: The Three Step Method to Increase Your Visibility and Explode Your Business,” is about—creating a strong brand that transforms you into an industry celebrity.

“The term celebrity isn’t just reserved for the stars we read about in the tabloids, but rather, it also refers to experts who are known for being at the top of their chosen fields, many times removed from movie and TV stars,” Friedman says. “Whether you’re a doctor, financial advisor, real estate broker or even a waiter, you can celebritize yourself.”

Friedman focuses on three steps to accomplish this mission:

  • Write. Many celebrity experts, including Zig Ziglar and Suze Orman, started out as authors. Even if you do not consider yourself as a writer, Friedman suggests turning your ideas into a book to define yourself as an expert. There are many professionals that can assist you in the process, including ghostwriters, co-authors and copywriters. These services aren’t always cheap, but they can propel your credibility to the next level.
  • Speak. It’s also vital to spread the word about your industry knowledge, Friedman says. Use Internet platforms as well as real-life opportunities, such as speaking engagements, radio and TV interviews, to get your message out to anyone that will listen.
  • Sell. Achieving “celebrity status” makes selling your brand—and thusyourself—an easier task. But not all media pitches are the same. It’s key to consistently evaluate and improve your pitch so that it stands a chance of being noticed, Friedman says. Ask yourself if your pitch would perk your owninterest.

When  you have become your brand and people trust what you say, people will become anxious for the opportunity to talk about your message.

“Celebrity is a powerful commodity; doors that were once closed can suddenly open,” Friedman says. “People listen to what they ignored before. New business and money flows to you—not away from you. Most of all, people thank you for sharing your wisdom.”
For more information and tips on this subject, visit


By Christine Cusatis
Advisor Today


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