Take, for instance, a client of yours who gets asked for the name of their mortgage adviser.
He or she is (hopefully) very happy to give out your details, but what’s the likelihood that the person concerned is only going to ask one person for a recommendation?
They’re probably going to ask two, three, perhaps four people and that might well give them four different options.
That individual is likely to go to your website, and that of your competitors, and perhaps they’ll check on review sites.
Maybe they’ll be swayed by the services on offer, or the tools available from that site?
Perhaps they’ll get a real feel for the type of advice you provide, your way with clients, the testimonials from other satisfied clients, etc.
And via that process, they’ll narrow it down to the adviser that seems right for them – and you’ll then receive that email or phone call or they’ll walk into your office.
You might simply say this individual ‘came from a client referral’ – and you’d be right – but there’s so much more going on behind this decision.
And, the very real issue is if that individual does not make contact, you’ll have little idea about why you didn’t get the business because you’re likely to be completely unaware of their decision, and rather importantly, why they opted to go elsewhere.
So, how can you improve your referral and recommendation performance?
How can you give yourself the best fighting chance of securing that business?
A lot will be down to communication with your existing client base.
Just because the very last time you saw your client was to deliver them a five-year fixed, doesn’t mean you wait four and a half years to contact them.
We’re not advocating constant communication which is likely to end up with the client unsubscribing from your email database.
But you need to be providing them with regular information on the mortgage market, their own potential options, and perhaps recognising landmark moments in their life.
Requests for referrals and recommendations are not simply going to coincide with the end of a client’s mortgage term, and if you are in regular contact with those clients then the likelihood is that you’ll be the first name on their lips.
Convert the referral
After that, it’s all about having the right tools in place to convert the referral.
This means having a website which is the very best it can be and shows you and the firm off to the world.
Case studies, calculators, services and products, details of satisfied clients, plus links to your social media and any review sites which house five-star reviews are a must.
Give that prospective client a real understanding of what you can offer them and how you’ll make the whole process as simple as possible.
Ask for referrals
Finally, don’t sit back on your laurels and wait for those referrals to find you. In this business ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’.
Why not have an email template set up which thanks clients for their business and asks them if they have the details of anyone else who might be interested in them?
Identify the client groupings and target your services at them for referrals – for example, the portfolio buy-to-let landlord who is likely to know others within his or her profession.
Make sure you get feedback on the reasons why a client did come to you and also any negatives which might have potentially put them off.
Such feedback can be crucial in ensuring you’re not overlooked or dismissed out of hand because, for instance, your website is not up to scratch.
There is undoubtedly a virtuous referral cycle that advisers can tap into.
But it will mean understanding your clients, keeping in contact, asking them for referrals, and ensuring you’re at the top of your game to convert those introductions into real business.
If you can get it right, there is a plenty to be gained.