Turning Clients Into Referral Sources


When I first went looking for a job, I got a friend of my dad to give me a referral. He said he thought I was a hard-working young lady, and he was willing to go to bat for me. It was really important for me to have someone who could talk about my strengths and work habits.

So how come it’s so easy to forget the people who know us best when we’re working on getting new clients? That is…our current clients.

How many people have I sent to my hairdresser? Hundreds if not thousands in the last 10 years.

But here is an interesting fact: in private banking, more than 80% of clients say they would provide referrals, yet only 12% remember being asked. The better you are at relationship-managing your clients, the more likely you are to receive referrals—but you have to ask!

The best way I’ve found to ask is to use multiple-choice prompts, provide clues to the types of referrals you are looking for (including key attributes), and always close the loop and follow up. And make sure you discuss with the referral source what information will be disclosed and then inform the lead that you have permission to disclose it.

In our business, our best advocates are our clients so it really is malpractice on my part not to ask for a referral. So, “Did you find our conversation to be of value to you today? Thank you. Maybe you know of another colleague in another organization that could benefit from our services.”

Hands down, clients are the best advocates for your company when a job is well done. You have created the loyalty, and they are most likely to be helpful when they have received value.

And remember to ask. It’s like the lottery—you have to play to win.

Your thoughts?

Melissa Marvin is the Performance Results Network Director for Community Banks and Credit Unions at Cohen Brown Management Group, Inc.

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