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Referrals sound great: Existing clients send you new prospects who already trust you without wasting a dime on marketing. But referrals aren’t as great as they sound.

If you’re not careful, referrals will kill your business and have you searching for a new job. But you don’t have to give up referral marketing. You can build a sustainable financial advisor business with referral marketing strategies—as long as you don’t depend on them.

If you’re in this for the long haul, listen now!

Show highlights include: 

  • Why referrals should never be your only marketing strategy—unless you want your business to crash and burn. (4:48)
  • The biggest disadvantage of referrals—and how to avoid it. (5:01)
  • Why the most successful advisors turn down referrals. (6:02)
  • How to get better referrals without begging and pleading. (7:56)
  • If someone tells you about their referral-only business, throw all of their advice in the trash. (11:04)

If you’re looking for a way to set more appointments with qualified prospects, sign up for James’ brand new webinar about how financial advisors can get more clients with email marketing.

Go to https://TheAdvisorCoach.com/webinar to register today.

Ready to learn even more about becoming the successful financial advisor you know you can be? Check out these resources:




Read Full Transcript

You're listening to Financial Advisor Marketing, the best show on the planet for financial advisors who want to get more clients without all the stress. You're about to get the real scoop on everything from lead generation to closing the deal. James is the founder of TheAdvisorCoach.com, where you can find an entire suite of products designed to help financial advisors grow their businesses more rapidly than ever before. Now, here is your host, James Pollard. [00:32]

James: Hey, financial advisors fam, financial advisor marketers you are the fam, my family. I love you. I hope you're doing well. I appreciate you listening to the show. Make sure you go back and listen to all of the episodes because I've created them to help you. I've created them to help you succeed. So if you don't listen to the episodes and you don't soak in all the valuable content that I put out, put out there for you and all the entertainment and the stories and the lessons that are in those stories, even if they're not explicitly mentioned, if you don't do that, you're only hurting yourself. I want to start this episode with a little thought experiment. I was thinking about this idea, this idea that the thing which looks like a mess to you, is easily cleaned up by someone else. I mean, you think that you have a complex problem, so you look for a complex solution. [01:21.0]

I've said that several times on the show before, it's a problem amongst financial advisors; they think getting clients is hard, so they complicate things. They think setting up an email marketing system is hard, so they complicate things. To me, it's easy to another financial advisor who has already gotten it it’s easy; to another business owner outside of the financial services industry who seemingly has nothing to do with you, it's easy. Sometimes trying to fix the problem yourself is like a fish looking for the ocean. Even though the fish is surrounded by the ocean, he's never going to see it, he's never going to find the ocean, even though it's all around him, don't be afraid to get help. I am here to help you. One of the best things I've ever done in my business, what set up my inner circle newsletter because it filters out all the tire kickers. Inner Circle members get a secret subject line, which allows them to email me directly and have me answer anything I'm qualified to answer. [02:22.5]

Jonathan: Nice.

James: My Inner Circle Newsletter is all about helping winners win more because only winners subscribe to it in the first place. Everyone else automatically disqualifies themselves by thinking that a) they can't afford it, even though $3 and 26 cents per day. And they can ask me questions to recoup said $3 and 26 cents per day and they also get a newsletter which can help them. Recoup said $3 and 26 cents; 326 pennies per day. Or b) they don't need it or some other BS, excuse it's just blah, blah, blah. But enough about the inner circle, if you want it go to TheAdvisorCoach.com/coaching. Today's gonna be a shorter episode, we're going to talk about ‘Why referrals are killing your business?’ A pretty intriguing title, I know. that's why I picked it. I think I'm pretty good at these titles. I really, I think I am. Would you agree producer Jonathan? [03:14.5]

Jonathan: Ahhhhh…..I think, you put a lot of work into them. I like, I liked the contrast in this one a lot.

James: Very clickbaity gets you to check it out.

Jonathan: Yeah, yeah.

James: Yeah, the master of… you would, you, of course you would think that the marketer person is the master of clickbait, right? I mean, yeah, just being transparent. I mean, of course you want to have your headlines and stuff, they kind of clickbaity. That's the freaking point. There's a radium. There's a reason why radium. There's a reason why medium make millions of dollars in these magazines, the Enquirer, the National Enquirer or whatever the heck that magazine is. And these, the grocery store checkout magazines, they're still selling the flying off the shelves. Their whole magazine in the industry depends on these types of headlines. And I mean, so if you ignore them or you think that they're not right for you or they're not appropriate or whatever, you probably just hate money. [04:01.7]

Jonathan: Nice.

James: Hey it's is true. So let me get this clear about referrals. I love referrals. And in fact, a lot of financial advisors who do business with me, they are referred by other happy financial advisors, so serve referrals are awesome. And I even have a product called 51 Referral Marketing Tips for financial advisors. Like I've literally written the book on referrals because they, financial advisors wrote to me and they said, Hey, can you help me with referrals? Help me with referrals. I wanna get more. Again, I get referrals from CPAs and attorneys and all this, so I created it for them. But the problem is they're intoxicating. Too often, financial advisors get dependent on them. Referrals weaken. There are other marketing strategies, if they're not careful. Referral should be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself. And there were a few reasons why they may be killing your business if, and this is important if, you were too dependent on them. [04:59.8]

First of all, you aren't typically in control of the referrals you receive. Sure, you can control who you ask for referrals and you can indirectly control the type of referral you get, but you are not in total control. Compare that to something like email marketing, where you can control a) the type of traffic going to your site, because you can literally buy traffic for any niche you want. If you've got a credit card, you can make it work. b) You can control the type of people you accept these clients by having them fill out a form or a survey before you confirm the appointment, whatever. I mean, that's the ultimate control. It allows you to run your business and get more clients with very little effort from you. It's the definition of control. [05:44.3]

I would rather know the exact type of person who's coming into my business. That doesn't mean I hate referrals, it just means that I'd rather have you and me implement some marketing so you can control and you can scale instead of hoping and wishing for referrals to come in. And secondly, if you're trying to build a business and you're trying to take it in a certain direction, turning down referrals will become more common place. So the, when I help financial advisors

Jonathan: Really. [06:14.5]

James: You turn them down. And when I help financial advisors, a lot of times, I would say at least 80% of the time, I'd put them in a niche focused model where they're going after a certain occupation. And when they get a referral that doesn't fit that niche and it doesn't fit that occupation, they have to turn it down. Well, I guess they don't have to, but most of the times.

Jonathan: How do you do that and not block your referrals from coming in?

James: You have no choice. [06:46.1]

Hey, financial advisors, if you're looking for a way to set more appointments with qualified prospects, I invite you to sign up for James' brand new webinar about how financial advisors can get more clients with email marketing. Go to TheAdvisorCoach.com/webinar to register today. On this webinar, you'll discover why email marketing is able to generate upwards of 4400% ROI for smart financial advisors, three fatal mistakes nearly all financial advisors make with their emails, and the proven three-step process for converting prospects into booked appointments using email. All you have to do is head on over to TheAdvisorCoach.com/webinar and register today. [07:25.9]

James: I mean, well you explained to the person that, Hey, I'm looking for a physician, I'm looking for a dentist in this area who have this particular type of issue. It's tricky when you already have a business. And let's just say, that you have a hundred clients? And they're all from different backgrounds and they don't fit any particular mold. They don't fit any particular niche. It's very tricky then and it, it can be very awkward to try to pivot your business and say, Hey, you know, actually from now on, I'm only looking for attorneys or I'm only looking for physicians, but if you can start early and you build a business with nothing but physicians and you're the, a financial advisor and that's your niche, referrals are a lot easier. And there are a lot more beneficial because doctors know other doctors, they talk to each other on the same building. If you ask for a referral, chances are that doctor is going to refer you to another doctor. And it's just a lot easier. [08:17.7]

But if you've got a teacher and an engineer and someone who's retired and someone who's not retired, and someone who just graduated college and someone who's in med school, I mean, it's tough to build a business that way. Even if you are, if I know there are people listening who have businesses just like that, and they're probably making two or $300,000 per year, and they think they're hot stuff and they're God's gift to the financial services industry. Yeah, I get it. Cool. But you could be a million plus if you just followed what the heck I'm talking about, and you had a niche and you booked your business the other way. But when you have that general business and you depend on referrals, if, if you ever try to pivot and you ever try to, you know, repent for your foolish way and building niche specific business, it puts you in an awkward spot with the client who referred you when it happens. [09:03.0]

Now you can mitigate this situation by making it very clear, who you want as a referral. And like I said, having a niche makes this way easier because if you make it clear that you only work with a certain type of person, then you'll likely only get referrals for that type of person, but only a small percentage of financial advisors even have a niche to begin with. I'd rather spend my time building my business and going after my target market, then dealing with a referral who probably isn't going to be a good fit, anyway. Personally, I'm speaking personally here, that there are people who are different, we're all unique little snowflakes. I get it. I'm more of a builder I would rather build. I would rather have a predictable, consistent, scalable result instead of sitting back and hoping and wishing for referrals. [09:51.9]

Like I said, referrals are the icing on the cake. They are not the cake itself. And the “Cake of your business” is what you go out and build yourself. And if you really think about it, you're pretty limited to what you could do with the referral marketing, anyway. Each person that refers to you, they have a certain number of people that they interact with, that they influence and eventually that referral, well, it will run dry, because that person will go through his or her sphere of influence. I promise you. I’ve seen it. People like they get disillusioned into thinking, Oh, Sally Shu keeps sending three every year. She'll keep referring. It's just, it's goofy. Just goofy. Compare that to something like LinkedIn, where I can get tens of thousands of prospects overtime. Well, content marketing, I can reach a vast universe or online advertising. You can allow me to reach any type of person I want with a few clicks. Those are much bigger numbers. And if you're trying to make a big income, you need to work with big numbers. And first I said, at the beginning, first I said that they were intoxicating, that was like the first thing I said in the show. [10:59.9]

Jonathan: Yeah.

James: They are. They really, really are. It's mind blowing. Whenever people tell me that they have a referral only business, I know they lost her, the motivation to grow. It's just gone and it can come back, they can take the business in the right direction again. But it is a lot of work. It's like getting a locomotive going; it takes a lot of energy to get that thing going. Once it's going, it's cool. But it takes a lot to get started. And back when I was doing coaching with advisors, I would use an application and I put them on a waiting list. I had a little box where they could tell me anything else they thought I should know when I reviewed their application. And several people told me they had a referral only business. This is why they were trying to hire someone like me to help them with the marketing and do all that stuff to help them grow because they realized they screwed up. [11:53.2]

I mean, referrals are awesome. Like I'm not bashing them. Let me get that, that clear, but you don't want to depend on them. And I would be like, okay. You know first of all, my first thought, when I, when this came across for the first time, I was like, Oh, well, why are you reaching out to me if you ever have a referral only business. But then I realized that they realized it, they were screwing up. And I understand that maybe you want to grow now, if you're someone who's in a referral only business. but I don't really want to work with someone who gets into that position to begin with, because the truth is that marketing and prospecting is a skill. And if you depend on referrals for too long, those skills don't get used. And eventually you get into a position where maybe you want to grow again and you have to relearn all of this stuff. You have to build that muscle again, just keep your momentum going. It's kind of like working out, right? I mean, if you work out for five years and then you stop for three years, most of that is going to go away and your muscle is it's going to deteriorate your body's going to deteriorate. You're going to get weaker. And it's going to be like, you're starting from zero all over again. [12:59.9]

Compare that to just maintaining and just working out. Maybe you're not trying to add weight to the bar, every time you hit the gym. Maybe you're just maintaining with the same weight, so you see people like that all the time. But it's better than just stopping, losing that momentum, losing the ability to market, be ability to prospect those skills. Okay. If you don't use it, you lose it. And I think that's it for this, this episode, Jonathan. [13:23.3]

Jonathan: How about that? What's coming up next time, James?

James: Next week, I'm going to talk about how lifestyle practices can fit in for financial advisors and financial services is basically a business that can support its owner, and it can give him or her the desired lifestyle. I mean you can make it as big as you want, you can make it as small as you want. And I'm going to give you some pointers on how to design a lifestyle practice next week.

Jonathan: Ooh, one of my favorite topics can't wait. Financial advisors that is a wrap for this week's show, we will be back in your, ear buds next time. Thank you for tuning in. [14:00.3]

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