Today’s affluent talk. They view brochures as sales material, and they no longer trust online reviews. But they do value the opinions of people they trust and respect. The following is an excerpt from our new book The Best Practices of Elite Advisors, published by Wealth Management Press:

Asking to be introduced to someone that’s connected to one of your affluent clients is the polar opposite of asking an affluent client for a referral. Yet because advisors have been taught for so many years to ask for referrals, they tend to think of referrals and introductions as being one-in-the same. They are not!

Chris, a financial advisor we know, recently started asking for referrals again. It had been years since he tried it, and he wanted to give this tactic another shot. The response by the first client he asked stopped this new referral program in its tracks. The client simply said, “Wow, times must be tough!” 

In our workshops, whenever we ask advisors how their affluent clients feel when asked for a referral, the responses are always similar: awkward, used, uncomfortable, put upon, etc. When asked how they feel when they ask for a referral, advisors’ answers are virtually the same: they don’t like asking for referrals. Unfortunately, “asking for referrals” is still promoted as an effective sales tactic. Here is the truth – straight from our affluent research:
 

·      83 percent feel uncomfortable when asked for a referral
 

They’re uncomfortable because this “simple” referral request puts the onus on the client and prompts a multitude of other questions:
 

·      Who do I know that has money?

·      Who do I know who isn’t happy with his or her current advisor?

·      Who won’t be put off by me giving out their name to this pushy advisor?
 

And then your affluent client replies with something along the lines of….

“Let me get back to you.” (In other words, “No, thanks.”)

This tactic has been around a long time, but has no place in the world of the affluent. There are far more sophisticated ways of achieving the desired result (meeting new prospects through current clients). Elite Advisors orchestrate these connections in a way that builds the relationship between them and the client.
 

With personal introductions, the data works in your favor:

·      83 percent will introduce you to a specific person if asked (if you have a business and social relationship)

·      66 percent will introduce you to a specific individual if asked (if you have a purely business relationship)
 

There’s a big difference in the willingness to introduce, a seventeen percentage-point gap, between advisors with purely business relationships with affluent clients and advisors who’ve taken the time to also develop a social relationship. This is the essence of the Relationship Management/Relationship Marketing Nexus. The more personal an advisor becomes with an affluent client, the more natural it becomes to source names, and the more willing the affluent client is to make a personal introduction when asked.

An important point to remember is that by asking for an introduction, you are helping your client help you by identifying a specific person you’d like to meet. This is the heart of the introduction process. You’re not asking “who do you know?” You’re doing the detective work yourself (sourcing names in conversation or online) and thinking about how this introduction might take place, before even thinking about calling your client.

The standard timeline protocol is to wait a couple of weeks from the date the name was sourced (you never want to appear too eager), and then call your client to request an introduction. The wording should be direct and concise: “Bob, you mentioned that you have drinks after work with a colleague on Fridays. I’d like to meet him. Could I tag along next week?” Of course, if you don’t drink, you can ask to be introduced by other means. Lunches, dinners, sporting events, and other similar functions work just as well.