Why Am I Not Getting More Referrals? [Episode 101]

We might be jaded, but those referral success stories you hear from advisors? Well, they’re probably a bunch of B.S. In fact, if you are relying solely on referrals for your advisory, you likely have a crappy marketing plan to begin with.

This is one of those topics that Matt and Micah are one part excited, one part annoyed by because there are literally dozens of books and thousands of articles on how to get referrals, but very few of them are written by advisors. So in this episode, the guys are breaking down how to make the referral process feel less sleazy and more authentic. Listen in to hear examples of how they develop referrals in their practice and actionable tips you can implement to generate more referrals for your advisory—without feeling like you have to shower afterward.

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You’ll Learn In Today’s Episode:

  • The part about referrals that bothers Matt and Micah the most.
  • Why most referral success stories are probably a bunch of B.S.
  • Why you don’t want to seem desperate in your marketing strategy.
  • How to set the stage for referrals in your client meetings.
  • How to handle referrals when you have a tight niche.

Ideas Worth Sharing:

If you can’t quickly show me a key data point, I think you’re making it up. – @ThePerfectRIA Click To Tweet The advisors that I talk to that are crushing it? Very few of them are crushing it from referrals. – @ThePerfectRIA Click To Tweet Referrals is a marketing strategy like any other. – @ThePerfectRIA Click To Tweet

Resources In Today’s Episode:

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Read the Transcript Below:

This is The Perfect RIA, in case you didn’t know. Bringing you all the strategies to help your business grow. Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Are you hanging on the edge of your seat? Sit back and listen in while you feel the beat. Another myth bites the dust…

Matthew Jarvis:   Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of The Perfect RIA Podcast. I am your co-host, Matthew Jarvis, and with me as usual, the man, the myth, the legend Micah Shilanski. Micah, how are you today, buddy?

Micah Shilanski:  Jarvis, another day in paradise, but we’re doing really well up here in Alaska. Starting to have some sunlight come back slowly but surely. So we appreciate that.

Matthew Jarvis:   I love it. I love it. Well, Micah, I’m excited today to talk about referrals. So I got to be honest. I’m one part excited, and I’m one part, annoyed is probably not quite the right word because I feel like this is one of the most over talked about subjects. I did a quick Google search before we got on this episode and I found dozens of books and thousands of articles about how you should be asking for referrals, and that 107% of clients would give a referral if they were only asked, but I started to notice a theme, Micah. Tell me if this is different in your experience. Almost all of this advice comes from people who are not advisors and who have never actually asked a client for a referral.

Micah Shilanski:  Yes, absolutely. Most of the time, the people out there that are saying, “Source a name or do this, or do that,” maybe they were an advisor 20 years ago. Maybe there’s some credit that could be there, but most of the time they’re not, but I would say that’s actually not the part that bothers me the most, Jarvis. The part about referrals that bothers me the most is all of these surveys are… Apparently, guys, you’re just getting a rant today, but maybe there’s some value in this, is all the surveys that are done that are out there say advisor practices, almost all of them grew exclusively by referrals. Right?

                           And you start looking at that, and you start talking to these advisors. So it’s to a bunch of advisors recently and chatting with them and sure enough, I asked them that baited question of saying, “Well, where did you get most of your clients from this last year?” And they said referrals. And then I ask them about the referral process, and they have none in place. They have no idea how they get referrals. They don’t ask for it. It’s a real awkward conversation even advisor-to-advisor, talking about how do we do this, and I really think that most of this is BS. I think it’s one or two reasons. A, advisors do not know where their clients come from, which I think is a real issue because when I asked them how they track this, they could not give me a system to track it.

                           All right. Yeah. Yeah! It absolutely blows my mind. I was like, “Show me in your CRM where it says where the client came from.” “Well, we don’t have it there.” Okay, so you’re making it up.

Matthew Jarvis:   Or on the spreadsheet, or anywhere. Yeah.

Micah Shilanski:  Yeah. Anywhere. Where do you track these new clients from? So they couldn’t easily and quickly show me that. So if you can’t quickly show me a key data input, I think you’re making it up, personally. Right? So you could be somewhat accurate, but I think you’re making it up. And then number two, I think what it really points out is that if referrals is your only way of doing it, if every advisor does a half blood job of doing referrals, we don’t really ask them, we don’t like these conversations, that means you have a crappy marketing plan because the advisors I talked to that are crushing it, absolutely crushing it, very few of them are crushing it exclusively from referrals.

                           Most of their businesses, not from referrals. So it’s almost kind of flipped in my head the other day. If someone says, “I get most of my business from referrals,” I’m going to go right to that growth question. What was your growth? And if it wasn’t plus 20%, then, okay, no. Next. You don’t have a marketing plan because again, the advisors that are crushing it, most of their clients are not coming from referrals.

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally, totally. And I think this goes back to one of, I wouldn’t call it a core tenant of the perfect RIA, but something we talk about a lot, which is every marketing strategy can work if you work it, and we famously give the example of our buddy from our mastermind who still cold calls to this day successfully. Why does it work for him? Because every single day he gets on the phone and makes those calls. Referrals is a marketing strategy like every other. If your “strategy” for referrals is to wait for emails and wait for the phone to ring, like every other marketing strategy, it ain’t going to work, but if this is in fact, you say, “This is going to be a focus area of my practice.” That means you have a drawn out marketing plan for this. You have regular activities, you have measurements, but Micah, to your point, most important that you’re tracking where in the heck your clients actually are coming from.

Micah Shilanski:  Yeah, really, really important. Now, before we get too far down this path, I do have to say, full confession here, I’ve made just about every mistake there has with prospect and referral marketing. For example, we have done the wonderful things that says, “Mr. and Mrs. Client, do you appreciate working with us? Blah, blah, blah.” Great.! Can I have a list of three to five of your names of friends that would you enjoy work with us? And I actually slid over that piece of paper with five blank lines on it, and I don’t know who was more uncomfortable. I really think it was me with sweat beads rolling down my forehead.

                           I have done the wonderful, “Mr. and Mrs. Client, we are paid in one of three ways when you get to work with us today.” We have done these horrible things for referrals, and I really think this makes us jaded, Jarvis, because there’s these pure sales tactics in a negative way, right? Sales can be very beautiful. Sales can be a really effective communication. It can also be super sleazy, and I think those are super sleazy ways that advisors shy away from. Therefore, now we get scared and asking for any referrals whatsoever.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah. Two real problems come from that. What else? I’ve also done the one, this is a great one. I won’t mention the industry expert who recommend this one, where you go on LinkedIn and you find people that they’re connected to and next time you meet them, you say, “I see on LinkedIn that you’re connected to George. Would you mind introducing me to George?” The answer of course is no. There’s several issues here, right?

                           The first and foremost is that if you’re uncomfortable doing something or if you’re desperate, whether this is referrals or anything else, if you’re desperate or you’re uncomfortable, people immediately sense that, and it destroys the whole thing. Think about, Micah, where in your life, as a consumer, are you comfortable being asked for referrals? So where was the last place you went and they said, “Micah, can you give us three names?” And you’re like, “Oh yeah, I would love to.” I don’t know about your list, Micah, mine’s like zero. There’s never a time where I want to write down names of my friends for somebody else.

Micah Shilanski:  I got nothing, and maybe it’s just because I see that sales training that kicks in and then I’m just like, “Absolutely not.” Those roadblocks come up. So just to be fair. We recently bought a vehicle, and as we were leaving the salesman, that’s exactly what he said. “Would you mind referring us, giving me the names of three to five of your friends that we could be introduced to?” And I said, “Yes, I would mind. I’m not giving you the names of my friends. Why would I let you harass them?”

                           This is a pure sales technique. That’s going to be there. So the question is on a referral, why is it going to value? So who don’t we mind giving referrals to? Maybe we should pivot this to the positive side. So we hand out referrals all the time to CPAs, to estate planning attorneys. With estate planning, attorneys and CPAs, we don’t just refer, we set the meetings up. We freaking T-ball everything for the estate planning attorney to come in and to get that business because it’s a need for the client to take care of them. We see the need for the client. We see the value that can be there. We’re willing to go out of our way to set that up. So we almost need that exact same thing for clients to feel comfortable referring us.

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally. So those are examples where you’re only giving referrals as a consumer when the product or service absolutely blows your mind, and you’re confident that it’s not going to reflect poorly back on you. So even if the service blew your mind, but you thought it was lucky, you’re not going to send your friends there because if they have a bad experience, it burns up your relationship capital. It’s just not going to work.

                           Now, Micah, I’ll mention, we track our new assets very closely because earlier in my career, we weren’t bringing on any assets, I would track it. In fact, I mentioned this the other day to a friend that we used to celebrate by taking the team out to lunch, the team being me and Coleen. Every time we added a total of 300,000 in new assets. that was our bogey for being able to go out to lunch. That was how closely we tracked it in those days, but with that tracking each year, roughly one third of my…

Micah Shilanski:  I’m sorry. I got to jump in here real fast with this. That is excellent though because we were all there. We were all there, and you may still be there listening to the podcast and celebrating those victories with your team are really, really important. So good job for doing that.

Matthew Jarvis:   Yep. So we track it diligently to this day. I’d be glad to show you that spreadsheet that we use. Even though it’s in our CRM, I still like to just keep it on a spreadsheet. roughly one third of our new clients, new assets each year come from existing client referrals. Roughly one third come from referrals from centers of influence, which we’ve talked about on this podcast. And then one third comes from my personal network. So again, I track this very closely. Those are my three main marketing strategies, but my referral clients, I never ask clients for referrals. Never. Not once. Well, not that I haven’t. I have and it went really badly. In fact, the more I asked the less I got, but in my modern marketing, I never ask. Now, that does not mean that I sit on my hands and I hope, and I watch for a referral. We have a very active referral strategy. It does not involve asking for three names of people you know.

Micah Shilanski:  Jarvis, I’d love to share a little bit of story. I’m going to pivot this, but bring it back hopefully to what you were just talking about with the indirect marketing approach, which works out so, so well, and this year for 2020, because everything was working really well for us before that, we decided to change it for last year. We said, “Well, hey, it was working, everything we were doing. Let’s pivot and try a different marketing approach.” So for online, we went to more direct sales because we’re like, “What if it works?” And so we spent a decent amount of time and money, I think North of $50,000, just to be clear. And we won’t get into the rate of return on that one because I might cry.

                           So it wasn’t positive. Let’s go with that, but we spent a lot of time and money kind of pivoting this, and we went to more direct sales. And what we noticed when we did this online, which we would get a third to two-thirds of our new clients online, it dried up. People weren’t requesting appointments. People weren’t contacting our offices, and we started having people, finally, in kind of October, November. We’re slow learners, right? We did it for 10 months, and it wasn’t improving. We’re like, “Let’s continue this through to see if it makes any change.” And finally, our listeners came back and said, “Hey, knock it off. We love your content. We love the information that comes out. You’re becoming to salesy”. So we’ve really had to pull that back.

                           So again, these are mistakes that we make, and we need to look at what happens and say, “Okay, great. Are we getting the results we want?” If we’re not, you need to do something different. And listen, for me, if I’m getting the results that I want, maybe I should just keep doing it. Right? But it’s the indirect marketing which works. Where’s your value that you’re adding and that’s going to directly linked to your referrals.

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally. Two examples. One of course, our friend Michael Kitts, notice on his site, it’s very, very subtle that he’s asking for any business. Perhaps too subtle, but he’s crushing it. So again, I’m not going to critique that. Very subtle that he says, “Hey, you should join our members site.” So Micah, to your point, it’s very subtle, but Micah, in your own practice, I know on your Q1 agendas, which are coming up or right now as far as when this podcast airs, you very subtly or indirectly… Now I wouldn’t say ask for referrals, but kind of set the stage for referrals in your client meetings.

Micah Shilanski:  Absolutely, and I think this is really important in your referral strategy, right? So I feel uncomfortable. By the way, if you are crushing it with, “Hey, give me three names,” and it’s working, I would love to have a chit chat with you. So if there’s advisors that are doing that, that are doing phenomenal or have a great referral, active referral strategy that is crushing it with them, please email us [email protected]

Matthew Jarvis:   And have the numbers to back it up. So please just be warned. If you tell us you’re doing something great, we love that, we’re going to ask you to back that up. So just, quick disclaimer

Micah Shilanski:  Fair enough, but we’d love to chat with you. So on our agenda, what I like to do with our referrals is set the stage, right? Let’s let the clients know because most of the clients that we deal with are not business owners. Some of them are, but most of them are not engaged in that mindset to refer people. So how do you set the stage for that? In my opinion, it has to be a couple of things. One, you have to be making sure that you’re doing an excellent job for them. You have to let them know your business is growing and doing well, and that by bringing on new clients will not detract from their quality of service that they’re receiving because sometimes we get this feedback before when we’ve asked.

                           They’re saying, “Well, I was a little scared to refer you because I’m worried that our relationship won’t go away or you’re a good secret, and I want to keep you just for me.” We’ve gotten these responses from clients. So what we’ve done is on our agenda, and I don’t know why we only do it in Q1. We were pre-gaming and Jarvis and I were talking about this, and I was like, “I don’t know why we only put it at the beginning of the year, but that’s just where we do.” We do a little business review for the clients.

                           We let them know after everything’s wrapped up, they’ve had a good meeting, they’re happy with everything. We let them know from-wise, where are we at? What are we doing? So we’re going to say something kind of similar to this. Last year, of course, was a crazy year, like all of us, but the firm is still growing. In fact, we brought on two new team members. This year, we’re looking to grow, potentially bring on another, and really it’s because of great clients like you and referring friends that we’re able to keep growing.

                           So we’ve looked at our business plan, and I really think that in order to maintain the great level of service we’re providing to you, we can bring on somewhere between 20 to 25 new clients this year and still maintain a level of service. So just wanted to make sure that you guys knew that, that you’re going to be taken care of this year as we continue to grow.

Matthew Jarvis:   I want to be real clear, that’s the end of the discussion, not followed by give me five names or we would appreciate your referrals or who do you know?

Micah Shilanski:  Nope, Nope. The doors locked in that room, and they actually had to call the people. No, I’m just kidding. No, that’s the end of it because what am I going for? Really what I’m going for is letting them know that our business is growing and it’s not going to deter from their service. I want to keep them as a client. I want them to show that we’re going to grow, and it’s going to be beneficial to them and plant the seed. That’s all I’m doing. I’m planting a seed that, “Oh, by the way, other people refer people to our office.”

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally. Something I do that’s very similar to that, any time a client asks me, “Matthew, how’s business going?” Whether it’s client or not, anytime they say, “Matthew, how’s business going?” Which is kind of just a throwaway “how are you doing” kind of line. I say, “Businesses doing really great. We continue to get a steady stream of referrals from our clients.” So I just always throw that in. I’m not going to let that opportunity to go to waste and just say, “Yeah, business is good. We had a great year. Say we a great year because we continue to get a steady stream of referrals from our clients, and we’re really happy about that. So Micah, to your point, we’re always seeding that in there, but never, “Hey, who can you refer now?”

                           The other place I see advisors go wrong on referrals is, it’s a total mystery to the client what happens when they refer someone to you, especially clients that have been on board for more than a day. They may not remember what it was like when they onboarded. They may not know, and they may just become jaded. What happens other places they go shopping? So they might have in their mind, “If I refer someone to Micah, he’s going to give them the hard sell. The client’s going to be upset.” So in our office, at least once a year in our client newsletter, sometimes twice a year, we have just a quick paragraph that outlines how our referral process works. “Hey, if you send a friend to us, here’s how we help them make an educated and informed decision about our firm.”

                           Now, for those of you who are listening, who are members of the backstage pass, you can log in, you can see copies of those newsletters that we send out, and you can borrow that text word for word. Those of you who are not members of the backstage pass…

Micah Shilanski:  Become members of the backstage pass, and you get it!

Matthew Jarvis:   It’s got to be easy. We were working with one of the great advisers in the backstage pass and he said, “Matthew, I have this great firm.” And he really does. He’s said, “We’re just not getting many referrals.” And we’ll call him Dave.” I said, “Dave, when I go to your website, it’s not clear to me what happens if I call your office, and I’m guessing that to your clients, it’s not clear either. It needs to be on your website. You need to clearly articulate to clients here’s what happens when you trust us with a friend of yours.” And again, not in an uncomfortable setting, not in a followed by write me five names. They need to know what’s going to happen.

Micah Shilanski:  And you need to balance a dichotomy of two different things, right? Number one, the aspect that everybody knows everything. From the aspect that your clients might share, darn your everything with… Because if they were going to refer their friend that they have a great relationship with, they may share absolutely everything with that friend of what it’s going to be like. So how is that going to be set up in your meeting when they already have that background? You also have to balance the clients may have said nothing, right? They may have done no introduction, nothing whatsoever besides, “Hey, I got a money guy, and you should go talk to them,” which was literally one referral that I got. They were clients for 10 years, and that was the only introduction I had was, “He’s my money guy. Go see them.” Okay. Well, it was an introduction, but there was nothing that was there.

                           So you have to balance both of these things. And Jarvis, if I may a quick story, one that bit me in the butt, I had a client, and this is back when I first started raising fees, and I decided not to raise these client’s fees. For whatever reason, I didn’t have enough gumption. I didn’t have a forcing mechanism in place probably, and I didn’t raise everyone’s fee. So they were still at a discounted rate. Well, they referred someone over to me and guess what? I went to onboard them. I went through the whole thing, and I told them what the cost was going to be, and now the cost was almost twice as much as what Bob and Sue were paying.

                           So they’re like, “Well, how come Bob and Sue are paying so much less? How come I’m being paid so much more?” And I had mistaken in several different things with this. One, if I had raised everybody’s fees to begin with, this conversation never would have happened because the clients shared with them what they were paying, which they should. Again, you’ve got to balance that everyone knows everything aspect of it. So this is the thing about also running a very clean shop. If you have people that have 17 different fee schedules, and you’re going to bring someone on a different rate, how are you going to have that conversation?

                           If everyone is running the same fee schedule, if you’re doing the same service model that’s there, and Bob and Sue make a recommendation or referral to you, guess what? You’re going to give the exact same service to this new client that’s coming in. So there’s a pretty big pitch for making sure you match everything up. And no, I never onboarded that client by the way because there was too much of a disparity because they had come in knowing what the price was, and it was half as what I was wanting to charge.

Matthew Jarvis:   That’s interesting. That’s interesting. Micah, let’s pivot just a little bit. Let’s talk about referrals if you have a tight niche, which everyone should have a tight niche. Two things come up from this. One is making sure clients understand your niche. The other is how do you handle referrals that are not inside your niche? So when I’m talking to clients. Towards the end of a client meeting, I’ll say, “Mr. and Mrs. Client, just wanted to let you know, one of the advantages of working with our firm is that if any of your family or friends ever have any kind of money question at all, I don’t care what it is, have them give me a call and I’ll get them the answer to that question.”

                           Now, the reason I do that is, even though I’m very specific with my niche, I don’t want them to have to try to pre-qualify their friends, and they don’t want their friends to know. So if I say, “Hey, any of your friends that have more than a million dollars can give me a call,” A, they don’t know who has a million dollars. B, they don’t want anyone to know that they have a million dollars, et cetera, et cetera. So I just say, “Hey, anyone, who’s a friend or family member of yours that has money questions, have them give me a call, and I’ll give them an answer to their question.”

                           Now, that results in a handful of people calling that’s my client’s cousin’s uncle’s nephew who needs help with credit card consolidation. So I get them on the phone. I do my phone meeting, and I say, “Great, here’s a couple of answers. Here’s some resources. I specialize in this kind of people, sort of you’d go to a cardiologist for heart surgery, and you’d go to an orthopedic for knee surgery. What you need is an orthopedic, and that’s not quite my area, but here’s resources for you.” And then I can report back to the client say, “Man, I really appreciate you introducing us to Dave. He wasn’t quite a fit for our firm, but we gave him great advice, and we introduced him to someone who can help.” So we’ve got a resource on both ends.

Micah Shilanski:  And that’s really important because you’re taking the awkwardness out of the client and you’re also helping the client out. You’re allowing the client to win in this case. One of their friends had a problem. Jarvis is now going to help, and just because you’re going to help, just to highlight, Jarvis, you don’t have to bring on them all as clients to help. You can give them advice and move them on to get better help than you because you don’t specialize in credit card debt. And quite frankly, if you brought on a client that had a bunch, and that’s what you were going to do, you’d probably do a poor job because that is not your area of expertise. Yeah, you could probably figure it out, but you’re still doing a disservice. You really got to move that person along where they can get the best service possible.

Matthew Jarvis:   Now, related to that approach, I have a pretty wide network of advisors. Even before we started doing The Perfect RIA, I know a lot of advisors in my area so that when that person calls and says, “I want to start a 529 account with $50 a month,” I can give them someone’s name. In fact, I can make that introduction. I can say, “Hey, my buddy, Brian, down the road, he’s actually going to be a perfect fit for you. Can I call him and make an introduction? What would you prefer there?” That way, again, they’re not hitting me and getting a dead end. They can report back to their friend, my client, saying, “Wow, Matthew, wasn’t a good fit for us, but he totally helped us out.”

Micah Shilanski:  Jarvis, another thing I think, on that follow-up aspect of it with the client. I think two things are important that’s there. Number one is when you’re meeting with the prospect, and especially if you’re going to onboard. So if a client is referred someone to you, you’ve met with them. Now they’re going to become a client. One of the things I make abundantly clear is our confidentiality policy of saying, “Look, I really appreciate the introduction that Bob and Sue made, and in fact, I’m going to send them a little thank you. And thank you for the introduction for being able to meet with you, but that’s as far as my communication goes. I’m not going to share anything else that goes on. Now, it sounds like you two have talked quite a bit and you could absolutely do that, but when I’m talking to you, I’m only going to talk to you about your information.”

                           Be clear. This is the dishwasher rule, right? We have to be confidential anyways, but let’s get credit for it. Let’s make sure the client knows this is a space that they can come into, share all of their information, and it’s not going to get related. The second thing I let them know in that, if you picked it, up, is that I’ll be sending a gift. I’ll be sending them a thank you for this introduction, and for our clients that are still working, we’re going to send a thank you gift, generally it’s baked goods. We’re going to send it to their office. Why to their office? So everyone else can see it, right? Let’s get a little bit more credit for this, and clients love it, by the way, because they get a little bit of baked goods. They get to share it around the office space, of course this is pre COVID stuff, but that’s a really good way to do it.

Matthew Jarvis:   Another tool that’s worked really well for us for getting referrals from clients is regularly scheduled client events. Now with COVID, those have been a little bit disrupted. We had to shift them to virtual. I haven’t yet figured out how to make the virtual events as good as the live events, but we’ll do live client education events, and we always send a second invitation. We say, “Hey, as you know, these are education only. We never sell anything at these events. If you’d like to bring a friend to share dinner with us or wine or whatever we’re doing, you’re welcome to do that.”

                           Now, a quick key on events, and we’ll do some entire podcast on events, you’ve got to manage expectations. If you think you can only get five clients, you need to set that expectation. We get 40 to 50 clients consistently. We always pack out the room. That’s great, but that’s a whole thing there, Micah. Sorry. I digress, but client events are a great way to facilitate referrals, if you will.

Micah Shilanski:  And Jarvis, in this conversation, you are not saying, “Oh, here’s your ticket, and the cost of the invitation is to bring a friend.” We’re just saying, “Hey, we’ve saved an extra spot for you. You’re welcome to bring a friend.”

Matthew Jarvis:   Yep. In fact, I’m setting the expectation of my own mind that even if this event is only clients, no guests, no prospect, no referrals, no nothing, it’s still going to be a success because I’ve bought lunch or dinner or wine for a group of my dear clients, and I’m happy about that. So there is zero hunger, desperation, commission, breath, whatever you want to call that.

Micah Shilanski:  Let’s go back to our three P’s on bringing on a client, right? Personal, productive, and profitable. Personable, number one, would you enjoy hanging out with them and having a good time? And if they’re not, they shouldn’t be clients. So again, worst case, it happens. You get five, 10, 30 of your clients around, you have wine and dinner with them, that’s not about output. That’s a phenomenal thing to do.

Matthew Jarvis:   That’s a win all around. So again, excuse me, if referrals are going to be a legitimate marketing strategy, not a wishlist, you’ve got to have a clearly defined avenue. Micah and I have given you several examples of how we develop referrals in our own practice. I will mention one of the things. Some clients will just never send you referrals, and that’s just their personality. They might not know people. They may just be like, “I never send referrals ever.”

                           So I wouldn’t get too hung up on that, but as a general theme, if you’re not getting consistent referrals, first of all, you need to be tracking. If you’re not getting consistent referrals, that’s where I would look specifically at, Micah, is dishwasher rule. Yes, you may be delivering massive value to the client, but if they don’t know, and if they don’t know in a way that’s exceeding expectations, doesn’t count.

Micah Shilanski:  So I guess that’s a good question. What’s a benchmark for that, Jarvis? And I’m going to open this question up because I don’t know. What is consistent referrals? Is there any metric that you would put on that? If you have a hundred clients, you should have at least getting X amount. If not, you need to change up your system.

Matthew Jarvis:   Not that I know of. And this came up, we’d recently hired Alex, an advisor, to join our team, and we were setting our new AM goal for the year, which is $25 million, which we translate into revenue and so forth. And he says, “Perfect, 25 million.” He says, “Matthew, that means we need to bring in two and a half million a month.” And I said, “Wait, stop. That’s not ever how this works. I promise you, we will have three or four months of nothing, and then we’ll bring in $10 million in a month, like we did in the month of December.”

                           This stuff adds up. Same with referrals. Sometimes we’ll go six months, no client referrals. Then we’ll get five in a week. So like all marketing strategies, you have to work the strategy, and eventually the results show up.

Micah Shilanski:  I would say just kind of thinking off the cuff with it, so I wouldn’t take this as a hard and fast rule, again, we have the three-legged marketing stool approach as well, where we have in-person, we have online and we have referrals. In-person didn’t do too well last year. I don’t know what was up with that one. Short of that, we try to keep them about a third, a third, a third. So if they start moving more in one area or the other, we really try to look, how do we up the game? Not how do we downplay seminars? Not how do we downplay online marketing? How do we up the other ones? So I would look at a marketing platform, maybe this translates into our action items. Your marketing strategy really needs to have a two to three prong approach. Never rely on just one source of marketing. You got to have at least two to three.

Matthew Jarvis:   That’s right. And again, to be clear, a marketing strategy is not wishing like, “Well, I really hope I get referrals this year. I hope I get online leads.” That’s a proactive strategy. So I guess maybe a benchmark would be that you need to be doing an activity at least on a monthly basis, if you’re in growth mode, a weekly basis to cultivate referrals. So, that’s got to be something you’re proactively doing. Again, for backstage pass members, we can outline that in more detail.

Micah Shilanski:  Awesome. Well, let’s transition into action items. This podcast is all about action items, about you as the advisor improving your practice every single week, every single day to be the best advisor you can be. So Jarvis, kick us off. What’s the first thing people should be doing?

Matthew Jarvis:   Yeah, very first thing, and I just alluded to this, you need to have a monthly, if not weekly activity that you’re doing to generate referrals. This could be as simple as saying, “Hey, every week I’m going to send a BombBomb video to 10 clients.” That’s something I took from Micah to sell. “Boy, I’m really glad that your client wanted to let you know we’ve done X, Y, and Z for you this month. No action needed on your part. Really wish you a great day. If you have any questions or concerns, send me an email or give me a call.” So you’ve got to have an activity that delivers massive value on a regular basis if in fact referrals are a marketing strategy for you.

Micah Shilanski:  Yeah. And again, BombBombs, clients absolutely love them. Video emails, we’ve gotten so many compliments about video emails. So highly would recommend it.

Matthew Jarvis:   I’ve got a quick sidebar on this thing, and I don’t want people to feel like I’m just kind of flattering Micah here because he and I like to poke each other a lot too, but these BombBombs, if you’re just recording a video, that alone is not going to do it. It’s super nuanced. Micah, when he first started doing this, he would hold up a whiteboard in his hand that had the client’s names so they knew that it was specific to him. He starts by smiling and waving.

                           There’s so many nuanced things that go into this that people, these so-called industry experts, say, “Yeah, send BombBombs to your clients.” That won’t do it. This knowing that if I wave at the beginning, if I smile, if I hold up a sign with their name on it so they know it’s specific, all of these little things are what delivers referrals.

Micah Shilanski:  I love it. No, that’s a really, really good point. So going back to that process that’s going on there, what is the process that your client or prospect will go through when they onboard into your office? Have your team go through that process. Why? A couple of things. One, catch mistakes. Have them go through it with the lens of a client with the lens of a referee, right? How does that work with them? So one, you’re going to catch mistakes.

                           Number two, your team needs to know the process. And it’s amazing when we start talking to RMs and ops people that they don’t actually know the process of a client onboarding. You think you know, as the advisor, but does your team know because guess who’s going to do 90% of the interaction? Your team. They need to be able to spell it out. No, your team doesn’t need to be asking for referrals. Most of the time they’re uncomfortable that conversation, but the more comfortable they are with the process, the more they’re going to be able to share and talk about it with clients.

Matthew Jarvis:   Totally, and this process starts with the very first contact. Quick sidebar here, called an advisor who’s in one of our TPR masterminds. I called his office, and his office manager said, “Hey, Dave is not available. I’m really sorry about that. What action can I take for you?” And I said, “Well, can you have him call me this afternoon? Or first thing in the morning?” She says, “Perfect, Matthew. I’ll have Dave call you this afternoon or first thing in the morning, and if neither of those are going to work, he’ll send you an email. Is that okay with you?”

                           That’s perfect, but that tiny little thing, that’s the first step of the process. Nine advisors out of 10, they’re like, “Hello, Dave’s office. I’m sorry, Dave’s not available.” And then silence. It’s like, what’s going to happen next?

Micah Shilanski:  Yeah. I love that. So action items of course, and always jump out there. Give us five stars. Rate early. Rate often. Really, really important where this podcasts is continuing to grow because of you. So this is us asking for referrals, right? But in order to give us a little bit of referral, a little testimonial would be really, really nice as this continues to grow because we are here to help you make 2021 the best year ever.

Matthew Jarvis:   Perfect, and if you have a request for a podcast episode topic, a question you’d like us to answer, shoot an email to [email protected] And until next time, happy planning.

Micah Shilanski:  Happy planning.


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