In a world in which accepting a LinkedIn connection can lead to an immediate, automated and highly impersonal stream of communications from a relative stranger, we’ve all become hyper-sensitised to sharing our contact details.

    And as much as your clients know, like and trust you, they may wonder what will happen if they make an introduction to a friend or family member. Are they opening friends and family up to follow-up that is too frequent, unwanted or, in any way, uncomfortable? 

    That lurking thought is an insidious source of referral friction, particularly as it may be entirely sub-conscious. 

    Referral Friction Point #3: Reducing Referral Risk 

    Clients who provide you with referrals are very comfortable with the referral itself. According to Absolute Engagement’s investor research 83 per cent of clients say they're comfortable providing a referral. That's not the problem. 

    The risk we’re trying to reduce is what we might call the ‘social risk’. 

    The social risk is the potential that you might be “overly enthusiastic” with your follow-up to a referral - and that that could reflect poorly on your client.

    It’s not that clients assume you’ll do anything wildly inappropriate; it’s simply that it’s an unknown. 

    And when anything is an unknown it can have a subtle influence on our behaviour. In this case, I might opt to share your name with my friend or family member instead of making a mutual introduction. Not ideal. 

    Take Action: Describe Your Referral Process 

    You can eliminate this source of referral friction simply by proactively communicating your process when meeting with prospective clients (who are referred).   

    If you don’t have a defined process, it won’t take long to create one. 

    The beauty of this simple approach is that it not only eliminates a source of friction but allows you to comfortably remind clients that you would like to connect with their friends and family. 

    The steps. 

    Take a moment, as part of your next review, to chat with clients about your referral process.   

    1.  Communicate appreciation. 

    “James, we're lucky enough to have grown our business through referrals. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful we are that our clients place that kind of trust in us. I’ve often suggested that clients make a mutual introduction if they feel there is a problem we can help solve for a friend or family member."   

    2.  Describe the unspoken concern. 

    “At the same time, I realise that may also raise some questions as to what we do with that information. I know I wouldn’t want someone following up too often with the people I know. Do you mind if I take a few minutes to share our process with you?" 

    3.  Share your process. 

    “We have a clear process in place. If you make an introduction, we’ll reach out directly to share a little information on the work that we do and to see if there's any interest in meeting. If there is, that’s wonderful; we’ll set that up. If it’s not the right time, we offer to add your friend or family member to our blog list so they can access our on-going updates. It’s a great way to get to know us a little before agreeing to meet.” 

    4.  Make a commitment. 

    “And that’s it. If there's no interest, we'll delete the information, and we won’t follow up directly again.” 

     5. Remind clients about who you help. 

    “Thanks again for all your support.  We’ve become laser-focused on helping <YOUR TARGET MARKET> to <SOLVE A PARTICULAR PROBLEM> so they can <THE IMPACT YOU HAVE.>

    Simply stated, when clients are clear on the process, it removes the unspoken risk.

    Julie Littlechild is the Founder & CEO of Absolute Engagement, a firm that helps advisers use direct input and feedback from clients to drive engagement and growth.  You can learn more here.

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