Referrals

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Nov 10, 2009 3:23 pm

I am new, so probably missed the threads on referrals.  I see that a lot of cold calling is being done, and while I used to do a lot of it, I don't anymore, yet my business is growing.


If I had to do it all over again, I would do little or no cold calling.  What I would do is:
 
1)Befriend a very successful insurance agent from big mutual insurer  like NML.
 
2)Find out whom the top estate planning attorneys are in your area and get to know them.
 
3)Find out who the most well known CPAs are in your area and find 1 or 2 who are willing to work with you.
 
4)Seek out another successful advisor and ask them if they would be willing to help you.
 
5)Join the Chamber of Commerce, attend as many networking events as possible, and get involved on a committee or two.........
 
Actually,I did all those above things, after flailing around for a year or so, and that has made all the difference to me.  Referrals are SO MUCH easier than convincing complete strangers you are the best thing since sliced bread..........:)
 
Nov 10, 2009 3:51 pm
IndieMan:

I am new, so probably missed the threads on referrals.  I see that a lot of cold calling is being done, and while I used to do a lot of it, I don't anymore, yet my business is growing.


If I had to do it all over again, I would do little or no cold calling.  What I would do is:
 
1)Befriend a very successful insurance agent from big mutual insurer  like NML.
 
2)Find out whom the top estate planning attorneys are in your area and get to know them.
 
3)Find out who the most well known CPAs are in your area and find 1 or 2 who are willing to work with you.
 
4)Seek out another successful advisor and ask them if they would be willing to help you.
 
5)Join the Chamber of Commerce, attend as many networking events as possible, and get involved on a committee or two.........
 
Actually,I did all those above things, after flailing around for a year or so, and that has made all the difference to me.  Referrals are SO MUCH easier than convincing complete strangers you are the best thing since sliced bread..........:)
 
 
Thank you for admitting your incompetence..
 
1. Great.. but what do I have to offer him?
2. That is what everyone else is doing too
3. Again another category dominated by other advisors
4. Very good advice, most said cold call.. An advisor told me when you are new normally you have more time then money, and calling is free.... Also there are only two ways to get clients, you find them or they find you, don't count on the second one until 5 years in..
5. Networking with other poor businesses???
 
Nov 10, 2009 3:53 pm

I agree.  Most of my business this year has come through professional referrals.  My problem is, most of the professionals in my area are already in pretty tight with the CPA's and attorneys.  I am having trouble getting REAL tight with any of them.  Still trying....

 
Any specific good ideas you've used to cement relationships and basically say "how can we get some referrals going?"
Nov 10, 2009 3:54 pm

So Squash, if you are shooting down working with other professionals, then what do you suggest?

Nov 10, 2009 4:33 pm

I don't think it is a bad idea... just wouldn't focus on it.. CPAs, Estate Attorneys, etc... get solicited all day for referrals. My brother in-law runs a local firm 15 states away(no help) and 3-5 times a month a new broker will stop in and try to set up a relationship with him.. problem is, he has his client base and a local guy he works with and me. So he says up front he is working with someone but they insist on coming back..

 
I think there are more productive ways to build a practice.. Especially when you are new. what do you have to offer these people... NOTHING
Nov 10, 2009 4:57 pm
Squash1:

I don't think it is a bad idea... just wouldn't focus on it.. CPAs, Estate Attorneys, etc... get solicited all day for referrals. My brother in-law runs a local firm 15 states away(no help) and 3-5 times a month a new broker will stop in and try to set up a relationship with him.. problem is, he has his client base and a local guy he works with and me. So he says up front he is working with someone but they insist on coming back..

 
I think there are more productive ways to build a practice.. Especially when you are new. what do you have to offer these people... NOTHING
 
That's fair, and I run into that.  But again, outside of cold calling and client referrals, what are some of the ways you generate new business.
Nov 10, 2009 5:11 pm

I think seminars are easier than networking through CPAs, Chamber, etc. 


Heard an idea recently:  Heard of a guy who was sending out invitations to 5 clients at a time.  He would send the original invitation along with 5-6 copies and tell the clients that they are responsible for handing out the invitation to whomever they want to be sitting beside them.  Basically they have to fill a table.  He said he was getting 20-25 people at each seminar.  And since you're only inviting 5 clients your seminars don't just end up being client appreciation events and you buying dinner for 25 clients who don't have any more money to give you.  Clients are a little more relaxed because they are at a table with their buddies. 
 
Haven't tried it yet, but I thought it was a great idea. 
Nov 10, 2009 7:07 pm
Spaceman Spiff:

I think seminars are easier than networking through CPAs, Chamber, etc. 


Heard an idea recently:  Heard of a guy who was sending out invitations to 5 clients at a time.  He would send the original invitation along with 5-6 copies and tell the clients that they are responsible for handing out the invitation to whomever they want to be sitting beside them.  Basically they have to fill a table.  He said he was getting 20-25 people at each seminar.  And since you're only inviting 5 clients your seminars don't just end up being client appreciation events and you buying dinner for 25 clients who don't have any more money to give you.  Clients are a little more relaxed because they are at a table with their buddies. 
 
Haven't tried it yet, but I thought it was a great idea. 
 
I remember hearing this idea when I was at Jones.  I think they called it the 5X5 seminar.  Probably would work very well.  We tried a "Take a Friend to Dinner" theme seminar once where each client brings a friend... I like the 5X5 idea better.
Nov 10, 2009 9:16 pm

Everytime that this subject comes up, I'm a broken record.   When you go an meet the estate planning attorney, you are 4th in line at best for getting referrals.  He has clients in the business.  He has reps who send business to him.  He has his own personal guy.

 
He has no idea how you work.  If you want referrals, make the guy your client.  At least, make the effort to make him your client.   That's the only way that he'll be able to see how you work. 
Nov 11, 2009 7:40 am

iceco1d, great advice.  When you give business to somebody, you are moved in line ahead of the advisor who met with the guy to talk about networking.

 
Also, look at your bank statements.  To what businesses did you give business.  Those business owners should all get a call from you.  Why do business with a company if the owner won't meet with you to talk about your business?
Nov 11, 2009 11:52 am
Squash1:
Thank you for admitting your incompetence..
 
1. Great.. but what do I have to offer him?
2. That is what everyone else is doing too
3. Again another category dominated by other advisors
4. Very good advice, most said cold call.. An advisor told me when you are new normally you have more time then money, and calling is free.... Also there are only two ways to get clients, you find them or they find you, don't count on the second one until 5 years in..
5. Networking with other poor businesses???
 
 
Jeez, who pissed in your Wheaties?  Glad to see you have all the answers, and think referrals aren't the way to go.  Seminars?  Cold-calling?  And YOU think MY ideas are poor?? 
 
 
Nov 11, 2009 11:59 am
anonymous:

Everytime that this subject comes up, I'm a broken record.   When you go an meet the estate planning attorney, you are 4th in line at best for getting referrals.  He has clients in the business.  He has reps who send business to him.  He has his own personal guy.

 
He has no idea how you work.  If you want referrals, make the guy your client.  At least, make the effort to make him your client.   That's the only way that he'll be able to see how you work. 

I thought that was understood in my post above............but it is absolutely the way to go.  I realize a lot of CPAs and estate planning guys have "a guy", but not all.  I decided 3 years ago to become "the guy" in my hometown.  I like my hometown and wanted to spend as much time there as I could.  My name is known in town because I was heavily involved in the Chamber (served on the Board and as President), was very involved in youth sports, etc, and what I found was the folks that I wanted to get as referral sources all either were sponsors or active themselves.  Again, YMMV, but it has paid big dividends for me.  The local estate planning guy was referring all his business to an advisor 30 miles away he knew.  When he got to know me and I him, he quit using his advisor and he and started working together giving referrals to each other........
 
I gotta be honest, I don't like seminars and cold calling is too much work.  Again, YMMV.........
Nov 11, 2009 12:13 pm

Your example is great. But also why I made fun of it.  You said "if you were to start again" how long does it take to do the following:

1. Become President of the chamber
2. Serve on board of chamber
3. Wait for the local estate guy to get to know you by prospecting him?
 
1-2yrs maybe..
 
I think it is a great idea to do, but as a side job. As a new person your initial job has to be getting new qualified prospects in the door. And the quickest way to do that is by phone/seminars.
Nov 11, 2009 2:11 pm
Squash1:

Your example is great. But also why I made fun of it.  You said "if you were to start again" how long does it take to do the following:

1. Become President of the chamber
2. Serve on board of chamber
3. Wait for the local estate guy to get to know you by prospecting him?
 
1-2yrs maybe..
 
I think it is a great idea to do, but as a side job. As a new person your initial job has to be getting new qualified prospects in the door. And the quickest way to do that is by phone/seminars.

I get your point.  I guess I am glad I am no longer a rookie.........
 
However, I would say this.  While it is tempting to be a generalist like many of us were starting out, the sooner you choose a niche,  the better............:)
 
Actually, the quickest way to get qualified prospects in the door is to work at a bank as an advisor, but that's a whole nuther discussion...........
Nov 11, 2009 3:37 pm

We've been networking for a while and I'm really starting to see how stupid many "professionals" actually are.

 
I know how the game is played and to get referrals you usually have to give first (especially if you are an unknown).
 
So I meet with a well known estate planning attorney over lunch.  We have a really nice discussion, good guy, knows his stuff, asked me good questions about our firm and process.  He says that he has no one locally to refer to.  I say, neither do we.  Sounds like a good match right?
 
About two weeks later, I have a referral for him.  So I send him an email.  No response.  Call him and leave a message - no response back.  Two weeks after this I email him again.  He emails back saying he is out of town but that he will be back on Monday and will call me as soon as he's in the office.  That was 3 months ago and was the last I ever heard from him. 
 
Sometimes you can't give business away.
 
 
Nov 11, 2009 4:51 pm
etj4588:
Sometimes you can't give business away.
 
There's a little luck involved.  When I approached the large NML producer originally, I knew I needed to get his attention.  So I gave him a bunch of referrals for insurance.  He wrote a lot of them and we got to know each other.  After about 6 months, he asked for a meeting.  He told that although he was a ChFC he didn't want to do the investment part of the business anymore.  So he started giving me referrals, all were $100,000 and over.  That was 9 years ago and its still working for both of us.........:)