Referrals. They are arguably the fastest way to grow your business. But it can also be one of the most awkward parts of your relationship. Most of us can think of any number of things we’d rather do than ask our clients for a list of names of friends and family that might benefit from your services.
But referrals make sense. After all, the easiest way to grow your business is by finding more clients that have the same characteristics as your current A-list clients. And who knows people with those same characteristics? Your A-list clients of course.
So now you’re walking the fine line of trying not to put pressure on your best clients while still asking them for referrals. It’s tricky.
So, what can you do to make yourself more referable? Let’s look at advice from two industry experts. I’ve talked before about the Go-Giver series by Bob Burg and John David Mann, and specifically about their concept of the Law of Influence. In case you missed it, the Law of Influence states that your influence is dictated by how abundantly you put the other person’s interest first. In other words, you focus on your client’s interests, not your own. Treat everyone like the influential critic you want to impress by anticipating their needs. You need to think of everyone is an ambassador to your practice. Everyone you meet on the street could be a possible referral partner. This includes your A-level clients’ centers of influence. It’s important to understand where they are and what their challenges are today.
The second expert I want to recommend is Ash’s National Director of Practice Management, Paul Kingsman. Paul is the creator of the popular Say It So it Sticks series. He has done a wonderful job putting together some talking points about how to ask for referrals, in a nonthreatening way. Start by making sure the client is comfortable, because it’s pretty likely they are just as uncomfortable as you are when it comes to having a conversation about referrals. And then you want to be upfront about your services. You and any new client are trying each other on for size. You might be able to help them, but it might not be a good fit. You’re reaching out to answer any questions they might have, whether or not they become a client. With this approach, you’re offering value to your existing clients while gaining introductions to your very best new clients.
Earning new clients and strengthening your relationships is exactly what every advisor needs to grow into a High Performing Practice. And now you have the tools to do just that.
Gain access to new A-list clients by asking for referrals in a nonthreatening manner. You’ll provide value to both existing and potential clients.
Sometimes you just need a pregame talk to keep going. A good pep talk gets you psyched up for the big game. It gets you focused. It’s exciting. It brings the team together. And it can be valuable for your business as well.
Tommy Amaker is the head coach for Harvard University’s men’s basketball team. A few years ago, he gave his team a pep talk before they took the floor against Howard University. He told his team that there are basically three things they each have control of:
It sounds simple enough, but it’s also extremely effective. For those Harvard basketball players, Coach Amaker reminded them about the opportunity they had on that night at that game. But it was up to them to maximize it.
When leveling up in the business world, those three points — controlling your time, controlling your words and controlling your opportunity — are just as important as they are in a game of basketball.
Control Your Time
A couple of weeks ago I talked about how to improve your time management and how to control the things you can. Specifically focusing your time on revenue-generating activities can give your business a lift. So, think about how you are controlling your time, and focus on making it as efficient and effective as possible.
Control Your Words
I’ve also talked about the importance of connecting with your audience, and the words you use are a big part of that. Every time you communicate, whether it’s a marketing message or a personal conversation, it’s vital to speak clearly and use terms your clients understand. Because if they don’t see the value you are providing, they will find someone else to help them, and you’ll have invested time and energy with no return. Simply put, if you confuse you lose.
Learn more about how to communicate by joining one of the StoryBrand meetings I am hosting throughout 2020. (Find out more about StoryBrand here.)
Control Your Opportunity
You’ve heard me say it time and again. We are experiencing the greatest shift from the workforce to retirement the United States has ever seen. You can remain relevant during that shift. Take advantage of this amazing opportunity by thinking strategically. Today there are more than $5 trillion in assets and brokerage accounts. And there more than $21 trillion in bank CDs and savings accounts, which shows the fear and uncertainty consumers have in the market due to the current pandemic.
Turn these seeming obstacles into opportunity. Help your clients change their thinking. Look ahead and create a strategy. By doing so you’ll be building a High Performing Practice that will be able to thrive —no matter what else gets thrown at us.
Give your business a pregame pep talk. Focus on increased growth by controlling your time, words and opportunities.
I’m an active runner. And I’m also not as young as I used to be. I notice that I get sore when I run. But I’m dedicated to improving my performance, so I get frustrated when I don’t hit my personal best. Recently, I investigated some new wellness options to ease my sore muscles. Specifically, I was interested in what a new wellness facility is doing with cryotherapy and compression therapy.
Before I visited, I did my homework. I learned about what habits I need to change and what the appointment entailed. After all, cryotherapy isn’t new. But the way they use it is different. And expensive. So, I wanted to make sure I was all in before investing in the treatment.
Most importantly, I knew what results I wanted to get. I had already formed my definition of success, and I knew how to measure it. My changes resulted in shaving 15 seconds per mile off my running time. I can see the improvement. I can quantify it. And I can determine if the results are worth the cost.
Success in business should be the same. It doesn’t make sense to change just to change. We need to look for purposeful change. Change that leads to success.
We are all accustomed to change. Every day we adapt. To economic conditions. To client expectations. To wearing a mask when we shop for groceries. The key is to look for a health change.
In my example, the change was amazing. More importantly, my legs felt good following day. Before continuing with treatment, I made sure that there was some level of defined success. That’s the same thing that we need to do in our business. We need to define what success means before we try new marketing. Before we try new client processes. Before we try something, anything, just because we think we need a change.
There are three major takeaways for meaningful change:
Considering these three points before making any major changes to your businesses or processes will help you focus on what’s important — remaining relevant as your clients shift from working to retirement — and not get bogged down in less meaningful actions.
Be deliberate when making changes. Know what you want to accomplish and how you plan to measure success.
Have you ever thought about how many moons there are in the universe? If you answered no, that’s not surprising. But as we have more time at home and I’m traveling less, I’ve spent more time outside. In addition to enjoying my balcony, I’ve dedicated time to looking at different industry thought leaders. And I’ve spent some time gazing at the night sky, just enjoying the view.
Last weekend, I read an article from blogger Seth Godin who, in his post “How many moons?” was reflecting on similar topics. Someone asked him recently how many moons he thought there are in the universe. Not having any idea, he made an educated guess. The Earth has a moon. There are nine planets in the solar system (if we consider Pluto a planet). So, he guessed there are probably around 22 moons in our solar system. But he was way off. The correct answer is that we have more than 200 moons. In fact, one planet alone has 80 distinct moons.
By now you’re probably wondering what moons have to do with retirement planning? Or anything, actually. Here it is. Just like when Seth tried to figure up the moons, he thought only about the things that were relevant to him. He wasn’t thinking big enough.
Getting a little more specific, let’s focus on Social Security. If you talk to your clients about Social Security, they will think small and consider what’s in their own neighborhood. What did their friends do? Or their parents? And most likely they will conduct an internet search or two about the best way to get the most out of Social Security. But they won’t be thinking about the bigger picture, which is the Social Security System itself. And that’s something that’s worth considering.
Historically, only 2% of men and 4% of women take Social Security when it’s maximized at age 70. So the vast majority of Americans take Social Security early. In fact, more than 50% take it early, and that’s a reduction number. Why are so many taking Social Security early, instead of waiting for it to max out?
One reason is that they don’t trust it to be there when they reach full retirement age. But according to US Treasury regulations, if there is even $1 of tax revenue coming in, Social Security is going to be paying out. So, the next thing to consider is what that payout is. And the amount paid out might very well be reduced.
So what your clients’ friends and parents used as a planning strategy for Social Security likely won’t be right for your client. Think back to the moons and looking at the bigger picture. What are they, and we, missing?
We need to figure out how to shift that risk which, before now, wasn’t feasible. But with innovative product design and more appropriate asset location than asset allocation, there are more options to consider. Or, we can see beyond our own small neighborhood and catch a view of a moon in another sky. But it requires you to think differently.
Instead of thinking about the funding crisis of Social Security, think about how to shift that risk of the reduction. Don’t focus on the elimination of Social Security It’s an opportunity to attract more clients and earn better assets under management. And it will add longevity to your business, allowing you to remain relevant through the greatest shift from the workforce to retirement our country has ever seen. And, by changing your thinking, you are taking a necessary step to building your business into a High Performing Practice.
By broadening your thinking and looking beyond common strategies of the past, you can help your clients maximize their Social Security benefits. And you’ll be growing your business at the same time.
© 2018 Ash Brokerage LLC.