US-EN Advisors

Referrals: The Holy Grail of Growth

Stacey Brown Randall shares her five-step outline that can be used to develop a formal referral plan.
Referrals tend to have high conversion rates and lower costs, but often they seem a bit elusive and sometimes random. Is there a better, more consistent way to generate the right type of referrals for your business?
Stacey Brown Randall joins us to discuss ways you can generate referrals without even asking for them, including a five-step outline that can be used to develop a formal referral plan.

Transcript

Stacey Brown Randall: When you’re having a conversation with a referred prospect, it’s all about reminding them why they’re showing up for this conversation in the first place. When you can have the prospect tell you why they wanted to have the conversation, and typically it’s because so-and-so told me I should, when they can tell you why you need to be having the conversation, you’re not selling. What you’re doing is that you’re listening to make sure they’re the right fit for you.
Ben Jones: Welcome to Better Conversations. Better Outcomes. presented by BMO Global Asset Management. I’m Ben Jones.
Emily Larsen: And I’m Emily Larsen. On this show, we explore the world of wealth advising from every angle, providing actionable ideas designed to improve outcomes for advisors and their clients.
Disclosure: The views expressed here are those of the participants and not those of BMO Global Asset Management, its affiliates or subsidiaries.
Emily Larsen: Referrals are sometimes referred to as the Holy Grail of Growth. These endemic strategies have high conversion rates and lower costs, but often they seem a bit elusive and sometimes random. Today, we’re diving into a better way of thinking about how you can generate the right type of referrals for your business.
Ben Jones: Our guest today is Stacey Brown Randall, Chief Referral Ninja Master at Growth by Referrals. And yes, she did choose her own title and that is one of the benefits of being your own boss. Stacey’s bread and butter is helping businesses generate referrals without asking. Now to start out, let’s level set and talk about what constitutes a referral. Now it may seem obvious, but Stacy has a two-part definition that can make you think again.
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Stacey Brown Randall: It’s such an interesting process, when I walk someone through the actual two-part definition to a referral, because we all think we know the definition. I mean, you’re sitting there thinking I know the definition and people listening are probably thinking, I already know the definition. And then when I break it down, they can see that the true power behind a referral actually comes in understanding these two pieces of the definition of a referral. But the way I define a referral is I always start with the why do you want them? They’re the Holy Grail of all ways that we want clients coming into our business because they show up already trusting us, usually less price sensitive, they are quicker to close, they are easier to close. They’re like, Ben, take my money. Just make my pain and my problems go away. So-and-so told me to trust you so I do. Let’s just get moving. And they don’t always look exactly like that, but the truth is they’re just easier, and they’re easier to get to the part of saying yes is working with you. Okay. So if that’s why we want them and that’s what makes them so special, well then what does that mean they have to show up with? So to be a referral, you actually have to have a personal connection, which means, and the terms that we use is a referral source, which is the person, the human, who’s going to refer you to a prospect. So the referral source has to make a personal connection between you and the prospect. 99% of the time, this is going to happen over email. It can happen over a group text thread. And one day when we get back to face and face, we get to have our masks off and we can actually recognize each other, then it could be happening in a group setting when all parties are present. But 99% of the time it’s going to be over email. And so there’s got to be connection between you and the prospect by the referral source, because that’s where the trust is transferred. The other thing that has to be there, and that’s part two of the definition is there’s got to be a need. I have absolutely no need or desire to be connected to an advisor if I don’t need an advisor. So my willingness to be connected to an advisor is because I’ve probably had a conversation with this referral source about needing one or needing a new one and wanting to look at something different. And that’s why I’m willing to be connected to you in the first place. And so if you think about from that perspective of I’m going to be personally connected, and then I’m going to have, as the buyer, as the client, I’m going to have my need identified, I’m going to know that I’m the prospect. I’m in buyer mentality mode and that’s why I’m willing to be connected to you. Those two parts, personal connection and needs identified, are so very important to understanding why a referred prospect shows up and we get so excited about it because they show up with those parts.

Ben Jones: I love that definition because I think so many people, particularly who have grown up in this industry, think of the old kind of nominated lead as a referral, but it doesn’t contain either of those two components. And so, I think that’s a great way to frame the definition and it’s very clear, the personal connection and a need for the services. So I really appreciate you level setting that. I’m curious, one thing we didn’t cover when you were defining that definition is what does it mean to be referred? In other words, so we talked about what a referral is, but how do you get referred or what does it mean to get that person referred to you?

Stacey Brown Randall: Yeah, so it’s interesting, because I think the way that we talk about this today is that we actually look at it in a referrals are about me, that I got referred so there’s something great about me. I mean, technically yes, there is something great about you if you can get a referral and if you are referrable. And I think that’s the way all the old school tactics are taught. They’re about me so I’ve got to do my tactics and my outreach has got to be about me. That’s where the asking advice comes from and being gimmicky and things like that. But if you actually understand the human dynamic and the psychology behind why a referral happens in the first place, it has nothing to do with you. Yes, as a referral source, I must trust you to decide to send somebody to you. But what an ultimate referral is all about is about me knowing somebody who has a problem and then deciding that I’m going to be able to help them. And how I’m going to help them is by connecting them to you. And of course, the trust that I have for you I will transfer to the prospect, but it’s not about you. It’s not about you the service provider getting a new client. Yes, that’s what we want and that’s the, yay, that’s the big moment. But if you really understand why someone’s referring someone to you to begin with, it’s about them being the hero. It’s about that referral source helping somebody else who has a problem. And when you can understand that, then you also can understand how some of those old school tactics don’t really fit into why a referral happens which means we’re trying to create referrals by asking and doing some of the other things that they don’t actually exist. We’re trying to make them happen. We’re trying to artificially create them when they don’t actually exist. And so the ones that we want are the ones where the referral source is helping someone else and how they’re helping them is by giving us a new client. But we’re just like, that’s just gravy. It’s all about the referral source being the hero.

Ben Jones: I think that’s a nice way to put it because I’ve noticed over the years that oftentimes when someone’s referred to an advisor, they don’t treat them with the same kind of care and diligence that they would a cold prospect where they’re trying to earn that trust because it just feels easier and more natural. But when you frame it the way that you did, it actually puts more onerous on the advisor to make sure that they extend the utmost respect and trust to that person and do right by the referrer as well as the potential client.

Stacey Brown Randall: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. I always find people will tell me, they’re like, yeah, I got a referral. It’s awesome. And I’m like, what’d you do after you received the referral? And they’re like, well, I followed up with the prospect. And I’m like, and what did you do for the referral source, the person who gave you that prospect? They just dropped him into your lap. And they’re like, oh. I’m like, oh my goodness. Yes. And that is, at the heart of it, where we have to keep our focus. Our focus has to stay on the referral source and everything about how I teach it comes from that perspective. Because at the end of the day, you don’t make your business easier, and the prospects don’t make your business easier. The referral source who brings you the prospects without you having to do all those other dreaded tactics you don’t want to do, that is who is actually helping you build your business in the easiest way possible.

Ben Jones: Excellent. Last kind of level setting question is, and I think this one’s obvious, but from your perspective, why is this a very important topic for advisors?

Stacey Brown Randall: The bigger the decision I have to make when it comes to how I’m going to trust somebody makes how I go about making that decision so critical to you either winning me as a client or losing me as a client. And so when we are faced with a scenario where the client is nervous already because your topic is money and risk, and we’ve heard lots of lovely stories, that is sarcasm, not so lovely stories about how this could end up depending on who you decide to trust to help you plan out your financial future, I think from that perspective, when there’s a heightened sense of, I don’t want to get it wrong because this could cost me years of working longer from a retirement perspective because everybody blames the advisor because they’re the easy one to blame. But, the truth is the higher certainty in terms of, I want to get this right, the more important it is that I get a recommendation from someone that I trust. And so I believe that advisors, and the ones that I work with, they always say, they’re like, I’m getting some, which tells me I have the potential to get more. I just don’t know how to do it because of all the tactics that have been shoved down their throats for so long about what this looks like, is ultimately coming from that place of saying, because when I make the decision to hire a new financial advisor or an attorney or in some cases, even like a CPA or a real estate agent, those are just things I don’t want to get wrong. And so I want to first look at the recommendation or the referral by somebody to someone they trust. And that is what makes it so important, which means the relationship matters so much more for financial advisors as well.

Emily Larsen: This theme is going to come up again and again, but Stacy’s perspective on referrals is so much more holistic than the traditional method with its equal focus on referral sources as well as perspective clients. Now, as we turn into discussing how to develop a referral plan, it’s a bit confusing as to whether a referral should be part of a sales process, a business development process, or a marketing process. It turns out that Stacy, once again, advocates for bucking the classic plan.

Stacey Brown Randall: It’s such an interesting process, when I walk someone through the actual two-part definition to a referral, because we all think we know the definition. I mean, you’re sitting there thinking I know the definition and people listening are probably thinking, I already know the definition. And then when I break it down, they can see that the true power behind a referral actually comes in understanding these two pieces of the definition of a referral. But the way I define a referral is I always start with the why do you want them? They’re the Holy Grail of all ways that we want clients coming into our business because they show up already trusting us, usually less price sensitive, they are quicker to close, they are easier to close. They’re like, Ben, take my money. Just make my pain and my problems go away. So-and-so told me to trust you so I do. Let’s just get moving. And they don’t always look exactly like that, but the truth is they’re just easier, and they’re easier to get to the part of saying yes is working with you. Okay. So if that’s why we want them and that’s what makes them so special, well then what does that mean they have to show up with? So to be a referral, you actually have to have a personal connection, which means, and the terms that we use is a referral source, which is the person, the human, who’s going to refer you to a prospect. So the referral source has to make a personal connection between you and the prospect. 99% of the time, this is going to happen over email. It can happen over a group text thread. And one day when we get back to face and face, we get to have our masks off and we can actually recognize each other, then it could be happening in a group setting when all parties are present. But 99% of the time it’s going to be over email. And so there’s got to be connection between you and the prospect by the referral source, because that’s where the trust is transferred. The other thing that has to be there, and that’s part two of the definition is there’s got to be a need. I have absolutely no need or desire to be connected to an advisor if I don’t need an advisor. So my willingness to be connected to an advisor is because I’ve probably had a conversation with this referral source about needing one or needing a new one and wanting to look at something different. And that’s why I’m willing to be connected to you in the first place. And so if you think about from that perspective of I’m going to be personally connected, and then I’m going to have, as the buyer, as the client, I’m going to have my need identified, I’m going to know that I’m the prospect. I’m in buyer mentality mode and that’s why I’m willing to be connected to you. Those two parts, personal connection and needs identified, are so very important to understanding why a referred prospect shows up and we get so excited about it because they show up with those parts.

Ben Jones: I love that definition because I think so many people, particularly who have grown up in this industry, think of the old kind of nominated lead as a referral, but it doesn’t contain either of those two components. And so, I think that’s a great way to frame the definition and it’s very clear, the personal connection and a need for the services. So I really appreciate you level setting that. I’m curious, one thing we didn’t cover when you were defining that definition is what does it mean to be referred? In other words, so we talked about what a referral is, but how do you get referred or what does it mean to get that person referred to you?

Stacey Brown Randall: Yeah, so it’s interesting, because I think the way that we talk about this today is that we actually look at it in a referrals are about me, that I got referred so there’s something great about me. I mean, technically yes, there is something great about you if you can get a referral and if you are referrable. And I think that’s the way all the old school tactics are taught. They’re about me so I’ve got to do my tactics and my outreach has got to be about me. That’s where the asking advice comes from and being gimmicky and things like that. But if you actually understand the human dynamic and the psychology behind why a referral happens in the first place, it has nothing to do with you. Yes, as a referral source, I must trust you to decide to send somebody to you. But what an ultimate referral is all about is about me knowing somebody who has a problem and then deciding that I’m going to be able to help them. And how I’m going to help them is by connecting them to you. And of course, the trust that I have for you I will transfer to the prospect, but it’s not about you. It’s not about you the service provider getting a new client. Yes, that’s what we want and that’s the, yay, that’s the big moment. But if you really understand why someone’s referring someone to you to begin with, it’s about them being the hero. It’s about that referral source helping somebody else who has a problem. And when you can understand that, then you also can understand how some of those old school tactics don’t really fit into why a referral happens which means we’re trying to create referrals by asking and doing some of the other things that they don’t actually exist. We’re trying to make them happen. We’re trying to artificially create them when they don’t actually exist. And so the ones that we want are the ones where the referral source is helping someone else and how they’re helping them is by giving us a new client. But we’re just like, that’s just gravy. It’s all about the referral source being the hero.

Ben Jones: I think that’s a nice way to put it because I’ve noticed over the years that oftentimes when someone’s referred to an advisor, they don’t treat them with the same kind of care and diligence that they would a cold prospect where they’re trying to earn that trust because it just feels easier and more natural. But when you frame it the way that you did, it actually puts more onerous on the advisor to make sure that they extend the utmost respect and trust to that person and do right by the referrer as well as the potential client.

Stacey Brown Randall: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. I always find people will tell me, they’re like, yeah, I got a referral. It’s awesome. And I’m like, what’d you do after you received the referral? And they’re like, well, I followed up with the prospect. And I’m like, and what did you do for the referral source, the person who gave you that prospect? They just dropped him into your lap. And they’re like, oh. I’m like, oh my goodness. Yes. And that is, at the heart of it, where we have to keep our focus. Our focus has to stay on the referral source and everything about how I teach it comes from that perspective. Because at the end of the day, you don’t make your business easier, and the prospects don’t make your business easier. The referral source who brings you the prospects without you having to do all those other dreaded tactics you don’t want to do, that is who is actually helping you build your business in the easiest way possible.

Ben Jones: Excellent. Last kind of level setting question is, and I think this one’s obvious, but from your perspective, why is this a very important topic for advisors?

Stacey Brown Randall: The bigger the decision I have to make when it comes to how I’m going to trust somebody makes how I go about making that decision so critical to you either winning me as a client or losing me as a client. And so when we are faced with a scenario where the client is nervous already because your topic is money and risk, and we’ve heard lots of lovely stories, that is sarcasm, not so lovely stories about how this could end up depending on who you decide to trust to help you plan out your financial future, I think from that perspective, when there’s a heightened sense of, I don’t want to get it wrong because this could cost me years of working longer from a retirement perspective because everybody blames the advisor because they’re the easy one to blame. But, the truth is the higher certainty in terms of, I want to get this right, the more important it is that I get a recommendation from someone that I trust. And so I believe that advisors, and the ones that I work with, they always say, they’re like, I’m getting some, which tells me I have the potential to get more. I just don’t know how to do it because of all the tactics that have been shoved down their throats for so long about what this looks like, is ultimately coming from that place of saying, because when I make the decision to hire a new financial advisor or an attorney or in some cases, even like a CPA or a real estate agent, those are just things I don’t want to get wrong. And so I want to first look at the recommendation or the referral by somebody to someone they trust. And that is what makes it so important, which means the relationship matters so much more for financial advisors as well.

Emily Larsen: This theme is going to come up again and again, but Stacy’s perspective on referrals is so much more holistic than the traditional method with its equal focus on referral sources as well as perspective clients. Now, as we turn into discussing how to develop a referral plan, it’s a bit confusing as to whether a referral should be part of a sales process, a business development process, or a marketing process. It turns out that Stacy, once again, advocates for bucking the classic plan.

Stacey Brown Randall: If you think about going back decades and decades, about how referrals have been taught, we’ve always taught it from the way that we typically teach sales strategy, which is your sales strategy has prospecting and marketing. And the end user is always the prospect of our prospecting and our marketing. But marketing has a little bit longer term mentality and prospecting is very short-term mentality – go to this networking event, hope to meet a new client, right? And so if you take referrals and you try to force them into either of those two parts, the prospecting and the marketing, then you get tactics like asking for referrals, paying for referrals, or being overly promotional and gimmicky to receive those referrals if you’re trying to put them in prospecting your marketing. And you’re absolutely right. What I advocate is prospecting is good, marketing is good, but no place for referrals. And your referral should come out and should be a standalone part of your overall business development or sales strategy. But you’ve got to treat it differently because here’s the biggest difference between prospecting, marketing and referrals. The end-user of your prospecting activity and your marketing activity is the prospect. You’re hoping that the prospect meets you at a networking event. You’re hoping that the prospect maybe sees your website and decides to fill out your contact us information. You’re hoping that the marketing and the prospecting and the messaging is directed towards the prospect. But in referrals, we have no idea who the prospect is. The only person who knows who the prospect is is our referral source. And so everything we do with our referral plan is directed at developing and deepening and strengthening our relationship with our referral source, who knows who the prospects are, which means the messaging is different, the actions are different, the mindset is different. And so, prospecting and marketing, definitely they’re important. And I want you to have them. And I want every advisor to have a well-rounded sales strategy. I just want referrals to be your biggest piece of it. And I want it to be the biggest bucket and the way that you get your best clients and the way you get the majority of your clients. But if we’re going to do that, then we have to recognize that what we’re doing is trying to strengthen and deepen our relationship with our referral sources, which means what we do looks different, what we say looks different, why we’re doing it is different. And it has to come from a place of, let’s take care of this referral source because they are taking care of us. And that is such an important place to be. And that’s when I, when I work with advisors and they’re like, hey, I get some referrals. I know that means I can get more. I’m like, I know, and I need you to stop treating your referral sources they’re at the other end of your marketing campaign because that’s not the language of the messaging they need to hear. They need to have a different relationship with you because you need them to bring prospects to you. And that takes a different level of relationship. And that’s, I think, the piece that people seem to always miss about referrals, because, well, we just have heard for so long how we’re supposed to go about getting them. And then I’m like, no, don’t ask. Don’t be promotional. Don’t be gimmicky. Let’s do it this way. It just really takes a mindset shift first and then the behavior and actions can follow.

Ben Jones: And so I’ve heard you say, stop selling, get referrals. And so when you start treating a center of influence or a referral source differently, what do you mean by stop selling? What are you doing differently to treat them and message differently to them than you would say, a cold prospect?

Stacey Brown Randall: It’s interesting. I think with referrals, two amazing fun things always happen. One, if you’re deepening that relationship with your referral source and you’re getting more referrals from them, and there’s a strategy and a tactic and I know we’ll talk about it as to what I mean when I say strengthen the relationship with your referral source. But if you’re doing that, and if you know how to change the quality if you’re not getting the right quality with your referral sources, you have that ability to bring in these amazingly wonderful referred prospects. And so, first, I’m getting a new client or I’m getting a new prospect without having to do nearly as much work and enjoying it a lot more. The second amazing thing that happens from a selling perspective is that when I’m talking to a referred prospect, and it’s funny because I’ll get on the phone with someone who’s been referred to me versus someone who heard me at a speaking engagement and then decides to get on the phone with me to talk about working with me. And then with the referred prospect, I’m not selling. There’s a few critical questions that I’m asking that I teach to my students about what it looks like to have a conversation with a referred prospect so that they close themselves versus the dog and pony show sometimes I feel like I got to go through when I’m talking to somebody who may have just found my book on Amazon and decided then to actually have a conversation with me. It’s just a different level of awareness how someone shows up when they’ve been referred. And so you shouldn’t be selling and you shouldn’t be putting a referred prospect through your dog and pony show. They do not need to see your charts and graphs unless, obviously, maybe they have that analytical mind and they’re asking for it. Really, what they want to do, is it’s more about them being affirmed as to why they’re even having this conversation with you in the first place and then making sure that this client is actually the right fit for you, because that is your obligation to make sure you can actually help them. And if not, then have a place to send them if you can’t help them.

Ben Jones: I like that. So maybe give us an example, because we’ve all been in the conversation where either we were guilty or someone else was guilty of trying to sell us something when we’d already bought, or we were already bought in. So give us an example of how this is different.

Stacey Brown Randall: Yeah. I always tell folks when you’re having a conversation with a referred prospect, it’s all about reminding them, why they’re showing up for this conversation in the first place. And it’s about reminding them from that perspective of, we’re here to have this conversation and there’s a reason behind it. And when you can do that, when you can have the prospect tell you why they wanted to have the conversation, and typically it’s because so-and-so told me I should. When they can tell you why you need to be having the conversation, you’re not selling. You’re listening to make sure they’re the right fit for you. So in my world, the way this looks like when people sign up to get on a call with me, there’s some questions they’re going to answer. I know by you answering three or four questions if you’re a good fit for me or not just based on what you’re going to tell me. Now, they obviously need to have a whole conversation with me to decide that they want to hire me and they actually want to join my program and work with me. But that conversation with a referred prospect is more about reminding them why they took the time to complete the information and what they’re hoping to accomplish versus trying to make sure that I’m hitting on all the pain points that that non referred prospect may ultimately end up having. And so it’s really about helping them kind of reach that conclusion. The best part is the referred prospect kind of shows up there. They just need you to make sure that they’re the right fit for you. And they want to hear you say that too. I mean, I think that’s one of the best things you can do for a referred prospect is letting them know, hey, if this isn’t the right fit. I know you were referred to me, but if this wasn’t the right fit, we’ll find the right fit for you.

Ben Jones: This is such a great insight. Sometimes when a prospect doesn’t seem like a good fit for your practice, it is almost as valuable for you to help them find someone who is a better fit for their needs.

Emily Larsen: Stacey literally wrote the book on this topic, Generating Business Referrals Without Asking, which contains a five-step process to develop a referral plan. I’m going to go over them quickly, then Ben and Stacey will discuss them in detail. Step one, identify referral sources. Step two is to master the follow-up process. Step three, build for the long-term and execute in the short term. Step four, use the correct language to plant the right referral seeds. And step five, automate the plan and measure results. Okay, Ben, take it from the top.

Ben Jones: Let’s start first, we talked a little bit about the importance of a referral source. One thing we’ve had a couple of people on talking about COIs on the show in the past. How do you define a referral source? And is it the traditional lawyers and whatnot, or do you have a more broad definition?

Stacey Brown Randall: So actually, the way that I define a referral source, any human that’s actually going to refer you. The truth is they fall though in four categories or four types. So step one of my process is always to identify who are your existing referral sources, like who has referred you in the last couple of years? And depending on how far back you go, we define those as active versus inactive. But the four categories or the four types of referral sources will be clients. So of course clients can refer us, that’s awesome. Then centers of influence can refer us as well. And I know most people use this type of definition of centers of influence, it’s the one that I use, which is they know what you do, they don’t do what you do so there’s no competitive overlap, and they come across your ideal client with some level of regularity to actually be able to refer you. So you may know a whole bunch of people in your network, but a small group of them are actually going to be considered COIs that refer you. And so if you think about the four types of referral sources, it’s clients can refer you and centers of influence can refer you. And I call those two types above the line, which means that’s who we build our referral plan for when we’re doing our third leg of the stool with our sales strategy, that’s who we’re going to focus on. The two below the line we’re not going to focus on. That also means the third type that you can get referred by are family and friends. They’re just not usually consistent in the long-term. Usually it’s because they want to see you be successful in the beginning and then they kind of forget about you once you’ve been in business a couple of years and they’re like, oh, you should have this figured out by now. And then the fourth are strangers, which is fascinating to me, because people get referred by strangers and they’re like, wait, but referrals only come from someone I have a relationship with. And I’m like, yes. By definition, that means that that person that just referred you, you don’t know who they are so they’re a stranger to you. But for whatever reason, they know you and trust you. The longer you’re in business, the more likely you are to have strangers refer you or somebody who’s had somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody who had a great experience with you and you don’t know exactly the web back to who it was. And so it’s understanding that strangers can refer you. They’re also low-hanging fruit to pull them up above the line and turn them into a COI that can more consistently refer you. But when we think about our referral sources and identifying them, they’re going to fall into one of those four categories. They’re going to be clients who have also referred you, they’re going to be centers of influence who are referring you, they’re going to be family and friends who are referring you, or they’re going to be strangers who have referred you. And so it’s important when we identify who our referral sources are, we’re also looking at it from that perspective of, okay, now what category do they fall into and really want to focus our referral plan on the top two, clients and COIs.

Ben Jones: Okay, I got it. So we’ve identified the referral sources and now I love this step. Master the immediate follow-up process. Follow-up is always where the magic happens in these things. But tell me, where does the follow-up need to happen?

Stacey Brown Randall: So I can’t begin to tell you how many times I will talk to financial advisors and planners and they will be moaning about the fact that they need more referrals. And I’ll be like, well, tell me about the last time you got one. And they usually can come up with the most recent one that they’ve received. I’m like, tell me what you did when you got that referral. And they’re like, I mean, I sent a text thank you. Or, I mean, I sent a reply back in the email and said, thank you. And I’m like, and now you’re wondering why you’re moaning about the referrals that you may or may not be getting. And the reality of it is, here’s what I always tell folks. There is one way and only one way to actually properly thank somebody when they have referred you and that is a handwritten thank you card. It is exactly what your mama taught you. Nothing has changed in hundreds and hundreds of years. There is something magical about a handwritten thank you card that shows up in the mailbox when nobody else is doing them, shame on us as a society, but nobody’s doing them. And you’re going to sit there and you’re going to write a thank you note. And it does two things really important. Number one, it says you’re worth my time. You’re worth my time because it takes me three seconds to type out or auto speak into my phone a thank you email or text. Handwriting means I got to find the card, I got to get the envelope, I got to get your address, find a stamp, and I got to write the message. So it tells me that you’re worth my time. And the second thing it says is that I’m worth more referrals. Because why should I refer you another person if you can’t thank me for the person I just sent you? And remember, as advisors, most of the time when we are actually referred somebody, we’re talking about the most delicate part of their life. Whereas taxes are super important from a CPA’s perspective, there is nothing more, I think, really sacred and sensitive. They’re talking about making the decisions I’ve made that made me, good money decisions, or bad money decisions that I’ve made, or all the issues that I find myself in that I need fixing. So especially with financial advisors, you have to handle this with the delicacy it deserves just by the nature of what you do for people. It’s one of those things that absolutely everybody needs an advisor, but nobody actually knows that, because nobody actually wants to go through the process. And so when they make the decision to be referred to you, it’s a scary process for the prospect. It’s also scary for the referral source being like, don’t mess this up. That’s my relationship on the line. That’s my reputation on the line. Thank them. Put them at ease and thank them for sending that person to you. And a handwritten thank you note is the only way to do it. And let me just go ahead and answer some of the other questions I know your listeners are thinking. Yes, you have to write it yourself. No, your assistant or an independent third-party robo bot cannot actually write it for you. I know there are apps out there that will do that. Yes, you have to write it yourself. You can’t have someone write it for you. And if your handwriting stinks, really I’m going to be honest here. I don’t care, but I will tell you write slower or write in print, or one person in my program said, oh, my father always wrote in all caps because it was almost impossible to mess that up. So whatever it is, you got to write the note. You got to write it yourself. It doesn’t need to be long, couple sentences will knock it out, but you have to thank them for the action they just took because that is what helps them take additional action and the same type of action.

Ben Jones: Excellent. Well, I appreciate you knocking those out. I’m someone who has poor handwriting and still goes through the process of writing handwritten notes.

Stacey Brown Randall: I actually had somebody who started my program this year and she was like, I knew this handwritten note thing was coming because I read your book. And I have a couple of episodes of my podcast where I soap box about this stuff and I kind of have some rants. And she’s like, I knew it was coming so I went to the bookstore and I bought Handwriting for First Graders. And she was like, and I retaught myself how to do handwriting. And I was like, that’s brilliant, whatever it takes. You have to hand write that note.

Ben Jones: Boy, I might have to add that to the 2022 plan for me. Are you with us so far? Just to reiterate, step one is to identify your referral sources. Step two is to master the follow-up process. And yes, I really should work on my handwriting next year.

Stacey Brown Randall: Step three and step four really actually go together because you can’t have one without the other. They don’t work without each other. So if step three is building for the long-term, but executing in the short term and step four is all about the language you’re going to use, what we’re ultimately talking about is building a referral plan where you’re going to do outreach to your referral sources somewhere between four and eight times a year. Most people in their first year need those six to eight touches in a year. But so critical, so please hear this, they are memorable and meaningful touchpoints. And that also means that you’re doing them just enough, but not too much, to where you’re staying top of mind, but you haven’t moved into the, why do you send me a card every single month kind of stalker-ish mode like this is getting a little done. So it’s memorable and meaningful. It’s not doing something every month. It’s not doing something every week. It’s not doing something every day. It’s like six to eight times a year. Some people can get away with a little bit less depending on what they do, where you’re trying to be memorable and meaningful and to make sure you’re using the right language. And here’s the point. If I can impact how you feel about me, and how I’m going to do that is I’m going to take care of you through these touch points. I’m going to do things that show you that I’m appreciative and thankful for the referrals that you do send to me. I’m going to remind you that I care and that I don’t take this for granted. So if I can impact how you feel about me through this outreach, these touch points that I’m going to do, then I can start to direct how you think about me. And once I start to direct how you think about me, then I can weave in the referral seed language, which, I’ll be honest, is the secret sauce of kind of making all these pieces work. But it’s the language that we use while we’re delivering this gratitude and thankfulness that better be genuine, or it will not work at all. You should want to take care of your referral sources. But it’s our ability to use these opportunities, these touch points, to tell them that they mean something to us and to tell them that we’re thankful for the referrals that they send to us while getting them to think about us from a referral perspective in an ongoing way. The easiest way to plant a referral seed is what we call in my program, thank by name. And that means I’m always going to thank you for the person you referred by using that prospect’s name. So I’m always going to think by name. And I think that’s the easiest one to use. Now, do you need to be thanking by name for between those six and eight touch points? No, that would be weird if you’re always saying the same prospect’s name over and over and over again that they referred to you. But I do think it’s one of the ones that if you were thinking through what a referral plan looks like and what this language and piece and looks like and stuff, the easiest place to start is with the thank you note you need to be writing anyway when someone refers you. And the thank by name is one sentence, and it is just that. It is thank you for referring Ben to me. It is putting in their name and reminding them that they referred them to you and saying thank you for it. It’s the easiest way to plant that kind of direct referral seed. But when we’re doing six to eight touch points in a year, there is a rhythm, there’s a cadence, there’s a way that we do it so that it doesn’t feel pushy and it doesn’t feel like that’s all this is about. And it always connects back to what you do as well.

Ben Jones: Now, the last, and I think this is often the most missed step, is this idea of automating the plan and measuring the results. And this is where I think people try to manage it off the side of their desk and so then they don’t automate the plan or then they don’t measure the results and they don’t know why it’s not working or where to adjust the system. So walk me through some of the ideas you’ve got here.

Stacey Brown Randall: I always tell folks that what this has to become is part of your workflow and your process. In some cases, that does mean there are pieces and parts of this that you can outsource and delegate to other people on your team. In some cases, there are things about putting it as a part of your workflow to make sure that you do it is also really important. So making sure it actually becomes a part of like, if you’re going to send out client docs to be signed, and that’s part of your workflow process, so is your referral plan. And it’s just figuring out how we get it into your workflow. And I always tell folks, I don’t need you to buy software to make this happen. I just need you to use what you have to make sure these things actually happen, whether your calendar, your task list, maybe it’s your CRM, something that automates these activities for you that tell you it’s time to do them and so that they actually happen. And then the tracking of your results, that the biggie. I always tell folks and people always say, well, we have to track our results because you want to know if it works. I’m like, well, you should want to know if it works. And yes, of course, I want to know if it works because I know that’s how you’re going to determine that there’s ROI. Except I don’t actually care about your results your first year. I mean, I care. Of course I care. But what I care about is when a financial advisor named David Ferguson starts in the program with me and he’s got two or three referrals a year. And he’s so excited in his first year following the program he hits 15 and I’m like, yay, happy dance. That’s not what I care about. What I care about is now that David’s in his third year and he knows exactly where his referrals are going to come from. And he got 17 last year. So it went from 15 to 17 and 17 in the COVID year, which of course people were off whether they wanted to be. Some were up, some were down, some were in the middle. And so he got more referrals the next year. And now he’s like, I have a plan. I have a process. And 2021 is the third time he’s going to execute on his referral plan. And he knows what he can expect. And he knows what his gaps are. So he goes from two or three referrals to 15 and then to 17, because that is ultimately why I want you tracking your results. Because when you can show yourself year over year growth of what it looks like to generate more referrals, then I actually know you’re more willing to do it. I mean, I worked with a team of seven financial advisors, and they got about 40 referrals a year. And somewhere between 30 to 40 referrals a year was their average. And then we worked together for one year and they brought in over 80 referrals for the team for that year. And when you do the ROI on that, and actually what that means, in terms of that is really great for the first year. But it’s like, okay, what’s happening in the second year? What’s happening in the third year? And that’s how I want people to track and measure their results is, when you’re doing the plan, how many referrals are you receiving? But then we also start tracking what’s your close ratio on referrals? What’s your close ratio by individual referral sources? And then what happens if you need more referral sources? Because just because I refer you once doesn’t mean I’ll do it forever. I could move, I could leave town, I could change jobs, I may not come across somebody that I can refer to you, whatever it is. So you also need to know when your referral source list is getting a little light, what does it look like to turn people into referral sources? So all of these things are just the data driven numbers that we have to be tracking in our business because the data tells us what actions to take. And that’s super important to do it from a place of data.

Emily Larsen: I think today’s show really speaks for itself. The importance of a good referral plan and process laced with gratitude cannot be overstated. We want to thank Stacey for sharing her wisdom on the topic. You can find her website, including her Growth by Referrals program at the link in our show notes. Here’s Stacy with some final thoughts to wrap up.

Ben Jones: The first question I have for you is what is the number one do not do when it comes to referrals?

Stacey Brown Randall: Do not ask. Nobody wants to be asked and you don’t want to be seen as the adviser who asks.

Ben Jones: All right. And if you’re a client that has been referred to an advisor that gets it right, what does that feel like?

Stacey Brown Randall: Well, I think it’s one of those moments where you don’t have buyer’s remorse. When you get referred to someone and you make the decision to trust the referral source and to work with this advisor, I think it’s the idea at the end of the day that you just feel like you made the right choice, like you made the right decision. And that means expectations were set properly, communication is done well, you don’t feel like you’re always reaching out for the information that was thinking for you in terms of what you’re going to need and what it’s going to look like. I mean, that’s number one thing. And I’ve changed advisors before. So I know exactly and intimately what this process is like. Do you guys have any idea how much mail you guys send? And it doesn’t actually even matter if it’s paperless now, it’s still an inbox coming with me something I’m like, do I need to keep this? Think for me. Tell me what I need to be keeping and what I don’t need to be keeping as a client. I mean, I think that’s one of those sticky client experience moments that you should have is understanding what is it like to work with you? And then go around on the other side, on the client side, and figure out how to make that easier. But you know when your advisor has it right, when your planner gets it right, because they’re thinking for you and they’ve managed your expectations.

Ben Jones: Excellent. Now, if you were going to summarize our entire conversation today in one or two sentences, what would they say?

Stacey Brown Randall: You need to make sure you know exactly who your referral sources are and let that guide the next steps for you.

Ben Jones: Thank you for listening to Better Conversations. Better Outcomes. This podcast is presented by BMO Global Asset Management. To access the resources discussed in today’s show, please visit us at www.bmogam.com/betterconversations.

Emily Larsen: We love feedback and would love to hear what you thought about today’s episode. You can send an email to [email protected]

Ben Jones: And we really respond.

Emily Larsen: We do.

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Emily Larsen: And I’m Emily Larson. From all of us at BMO Global Asset Management, hoping you have a productive and wonderful week.

Disclosure: The views expressed here are those of the participants and not those of BMO Global Asset Management, its affiliates or subsidiaries. This is not intended to serve as a complete analysis of every material facts regarding any company, industry, strategy or security. This presentation may contain forward looking statements. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such statements as actual results could vary. This presentation is for general information purposes only and does not constitute investment, legal, or tax advice and is not intended as an endorsement of any specific investment product, security, or service. Individual investors are to consult with an investment, legal, and or tax professional about their personal situation. Past performance is not indicative of future results. BMO Global Asset Management is the brand name for various affiliated entities of BMO Financial Group that provide investment management and trust and custody services. BMO Financial Group is a service mark of Bank of Montreal. Further information can be found at www.bmogam.com.  C11: 12884265

Ben Jones: And so I’ve heard you say, stop selling, get referrals. And so when you start treating a center of influence or a referral source differently, what do you mean by stop selling? What are you doing differently to treat them and message differently to them than you would say, a cold prospect?

Stacey Brown Randall: It’s interesting. I think with referrals, two amazing fun things always happen. One, if you’re deepening that relationship with your referral source and you’re getting more referrals from them, and there’s a strategy and a tactic and I know we’ll talk about it as to what I mean when I say strengthen the relationship with your referral source. But if you’re doing that, and if you know how to change the quality if you’re not getting the right quality with your referral sources, you have that ability to bring in these amazingly wonderful referred prospects. And so, first, I’m getting a new client or I’m getting a new prospect without having to do nearly as much work and enjoying it a lot more. The second amazing thing that happens from a selling perspective is that when I’m talking to a referred prospect, and it’s funny because I’ll get on the phone with someone who’s been referred to me versus someone who heard me at a speaking engagement and then decides to get on the phone with me to talk about working with me. And then with the referred prospect, I’m not selling. There’s a few critical questions that I’m asking that I teach to my students about what it looks like to have a conversation with a referred prospect so that they close themselves versus the dog and pony show sometimes I feel like I got to go through when I’m talking to somebody who may have just found my book on Amazon and decided then to actually have a conversation with me. It’s just a different level of awareness how someone shows up when they’ve been referred. And so you shouldn’t be selling and you shouldn’t be putting a referred prospect through your dog and pony show. They do not need to see your charts and graphs unless, obviously, maybe they have that analytical mind and they’re asking for it. Really, what they want to do, is it’s more about them being affirmed as to why they’re even having this conversation with you in the first place and then making sure that this client is actually the right fit for you, because that is your obligation to make sure you can actually help them. And if not, then have a place to send them if you can’t help them.

Ben Jones: I like that. So maybe give us an example, because we’ve all been in the conversation where either we were guilty or someone else was guilty of trying to sell us something when we’d already bought, or we were already bought in. So give us an example of how this is different.

Stacey Brown Randall: Yeah. I always tell folks when you’re having a conversation with a referred prospect, it’s all about reminding them, why they’re showing up for this conversation in the first place. And it’s about reminding them from that perspective of, we’re here to have this conversation and there’s a reason behind it. And when you can do that, when you can have the prospect tell you why they wanted to have the conversation, and typically it’s because so-and-so told me I should. When they can tell you why you need to be having the conversation, you’re not selling. You’re listening to make sure they’re the right fit for you. So in my world, the way this looks like when people sign up to get on a call with me, there’s some questions they’re going to answer. I know by you answering three or four questions if you’re a good fit for me or not just based on what you’re going to tell me. Now, they obviously need to have a whole conversation with me to decide that they want to hire me and they actually want to join my program and work with me. But that conversation with a referred prospect is more about reminding them why they took the time to complete the information and what they’re hoping to accomplish versus trying to make sure that I’m hitting on all the pain points that that non referred prospect may ultimately end up having. And so it’s really about helping them kind of reach that conclusion. The best part is the referred prospect kind of shows up there. They just need you to make sure that they’re the right fit for you. And they want to hear you say that too. I mean, I think that’s one of the best things you can do for a referred prospect is letting them know, hey, if this isn’t the right fit. I know you were referred to me, but if this wasn’t the right fit, we’ll find the right fit for you.

Ben Jones: This is such a great insight. Sometimes when a prospect doesn’t seem like a good fit for your practice, it is almost as valuable for you to help them find someone who is a better fit for their needs.

Emily Larsen: Stacey literally wrote the book on this topic, Generating Business Referrals Without Asking, which contains a five-step process to develop a referral plan. I’m going to go over them quickly, then Ben and Stacey will discuss them in detail. Step one, identify referral sources. Step two is to master the follow-up process. Step three, build for the long-term and execute in the short term. Step four, use the correct language to plant the right referral seeds. And step five, automate the plan and measure results. Okay, Ben, take it from the top.

Ben Jones: Let’s start first, we talked a little bit about the importance of a referral source. One thing we’ve had a couple of people on talking about COIs on the show in the past. How do you define a referral source? And is it the traditional lawyers and whatnot, or do you have a more broad definition?

Stacey Brown Randall: So actually, the way that I define a referral source, any human that’s actually going to refer you. The truth is they fall though in four categories or four types. So step one of my process is always to identify who are your existing referral sources, like who has referred you in the last couple of years? And depending on how far back you go, we define those as active versus inactive. But the four categories or the four types of referral sources will be clients. So of course clients can refer us, that’s awesome. Then centers of influence can refer us as well. And I know most people use this type of definition of centers of influence, it’s the one that I use, which is they know what you do, they don’t do what you do so there’s no competitive overlap, and they come across your ideal client with some level of regularity to actually be able to refer you. So you may know a whole bunch of people in your network, but a small group of them are actually going to be considered COIs that refer you. And so if you think about the four types of referral sources, it’s clients can refer you and centers of influence can refer you. And I call those two types above the line, which means that’s who we build our referral plan for when we’re doing our third leg of the stool with our sales strategy, that’s who we’re going to focus on. The two below the line we’re not going to focus on. That also means the third type that you can get referred by are family and friends. They’re just not usually consistent in the long-term. Usually it’s because they want to see you be successful in the beginning and then they kind of forget about you once you’ve been in business a couple of years and they’re like, oh, you should have this figured out by now. And then the fourth are strangers, which is fascinating to me, because people get referred by strangers and they’re like, wait, but referrals only come from someone I have a relationship with. And I’m like, yes. By definition, that means that that person that just referred you, you don’t know who they are so they’re a stranger to you. But for whatever reason, they know you and trust you. The longer you’re in business, the more likely you are to have strangers refer you or somebody who’s had somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody who had a great experience with you and you don’t know exactly the web back to who it was. And so it’s understanding that strangers can refer you. They’re also low-hanging fruit to pull them up above the line and turn them into a COI that can more consistently refer you. But when we think about our referral sources and identifying them, they’re going to fall into one of those four categories. They’re going to be clients who have also referred you, they’re going to be centers of influence who are referring you, they’re going to be family and friends who are referring you, or they’re going to be strangers who have referred you. And so it’s important when we identify who our referral sources are, we’re also looking at it from that perspective of, okay, now what category do they fall into and really want to focus our referral plan on the top two, clients and COIs.

Ben Jones: Okay, I got it. So we’ve identified the referral sources and now I love this step. Master the immediate follow-up process. Follow-up is always where the magic happens in these things. But tell me, where does the follow-up need to happen?

Stacey Brown Randall: So I can’t begin to tell you how many times I will talk to financial advisors and planners and they will be moaning about the fact that they need more referrals. And I’ll be like, well, tell me about the last time you got one. And they usually can come up with the most recent one that they’ve received. I’m like, tell me what you did when you got that referral. And they’re like, I mean, I sent a text thank you. Or, I mean, I sent a reply back in the email and said, thank you. And I’m like, and now you’re wondering why you’re moaning about the referrals that you may or may not be getting. And the reality of it is, here’s what I always tell folks. There is one way and only one way to actually properly thank somebody when they have referred you and that is a handwritten thank you card. It is exactly what your mama taught you. Nothing has changed in hundreds and hundreds of years. There is something magical about a handwritten thank you card that shows up in the mailbox when nobody else is doing them, shame on us as a society, but nobody’s doing them. And you’re going to sit there and you’re going to write a thank you note. And it does two things really important. Number one, it says you’re worth my time. You’re worth my time because it takes me three seconds to type out or auto speak into my phone a thank you email or text. Handwriting means I got to find the card, I got to get the envelope, I got to get your address, find a stamp, and I got to write the message. So it tells me that you’re worth my time. And the second thing it says is that I’m worth more referrals. Because why should I refer you another person if you can’t thank me for the person I just sent you? And remember, as advisors, most of the time when we are actually referred somebody, we’re talking about the most delicate part of their life. Whereas taxes are super important from a CPA’s perspective, there is nothing more, I think, really sacred and sensitive. They’re talking about making the decisions I’ve made that made me, good money decisions, or bad money decisions that I’ve made, or all the issues that I find myself in that I need fixing. So especially with financial advisors, you have to handle this with the delicacy it deserves just by the nature of what you do for people. It’s one of those things that absolutely everybody needs an advisor, but nobody actually knows that, because nobody actually wants to go through the process. And so when they make the decision to be referred to you, it’s a scary process for the prospect. It’s also scary for the referral source being like, don’t mess this up. That’s my relationship on the line. That’s my reputation on the line. Thank them. Put them at ease and thank them for sending that person to you. And a handwritten thank you note is the only way to do it. And let me just go ahead and answer some of the other questions I know your listeners are thinking. Yes, you have to write it yourself. No, your assistant or an independent third-party robo bot cannot actually write it for you. I know there are apps out there that will do that. Yes, you have to write it yourself. You can’t have someone write it for you. And if your handwriting stinks, really I’m going to be honest here. I don’t care, but I will tell you write slower or write in print, or one person in my program said, oh, my father always wrote in all caps because it was almost impossible to mess that up. So whatever it is, you got to write the note. You got to write it yourself. It doesn’t need to be long, couple sentences will knock it out, but you have to thank them for the action they just took because that is what helps them take additional action and the same type of action.

Ben Jones: Excellent. Well, I appreciate you knocking those out. I’m someone who has poor handwriting and still goes through the process of writing handwritten notes.

Stacey Brown Randall: I actually had somebody who started my program this year and she was like, I knew this handwritten note thing was coming because I read your book. And I have a couple of episodes of my podcast where I soap box about this stuff and I kind of have some rants. And she’s like, I knew it was coming so I went to the bookstore and I bought Handwriting for First Graders. And she was like, and I retaught myself how to do handwriting. And I was like, that’s brilliant, whatever it takes. You have to hand write that note.

Ben Jones: Boy, I might have to add that to the 2022 plan for me. Are you with us so far? Just to reiterate, step one is to identify your referral sources. Step two is to master the follow-up process. And yes, I really should work on my handwriting next year.

Stacey Brown Randall: Step three and step four really actually go together because you can’t have one without the other. They don’t work without each other. So if step three is building for the long-term, but executing in the short term and step four is all about the language you’re going to use, what we’re ultimately talking about is building a referral plan where you’re going to do outreach to your referral sources somewhere between four and eight times a year. Most people in their first year need those six to eight touches in a year. But so critical, so please hear this, they are memorable and meaningful touchpoints. And that also means that you’re doing them just enough, but not too much, to where you’re staying top of mind, but you haven’t moved into the, why do you send me a card every single month kind of stalker-ish mode like this is getting a little done. So it’s memorable and meaningful. It’s not doing something every month. It’s not doing something every week. It’s not doing something every day. It’s like six to eight times a year. Some people can get away with a little bit less depending on what they do, where you’re trying to be memorable and meaningful and to make sure you’re using the right language. And here’s the point. If I can impact how you feel about me, and how I’m going to do that is I’m going to take care of you through these touch points. I’m going to do things that show you that I’m appreciative and thankful for the referrals that you do send to me. I’m going to remind you that I care and that I don’t take this for granted. So if I can impact how you feel about me through this outreach, these touch points that I’m going to do, then I can start to direct how you think about me. And once I start to direct how you think about me, then I can weave in the referral seed language, which, I’ll be honest, is the secret sauce of kind of making all these pieces work. But it’s the language that we use while we’re delivering this gratitude and thankfulness that better be genuine, or it will not work at all. You should want to take care of your referral sources. But it’s our ability to use these opportunities, these touch points, to tell them that they mean something to us and to tell them that we’re thankful for the referrals that they send to us while getting them to think about us from a referral perspective in an ongoing way. The easiest way to plant a referral seed is what we call in my program, thank by name. And that means I’m always going to thank you for the person you referred by using that prospect’s name. So I’m always going to think by name. And I think that’s the easiest one to use. Now, do you need to be thanking by name for between those six and eight touch points? No, that would be weird if you’re always saying the same prospect’s name over and over and over again that they referred to you. But I do think it’s one of the ones that if you were thinking through what a referral plan looks like and what this language and piece and looks like and stuff, the easiest place to start is with the thank you note you need to be writing anyway when someone refers you. And the thank by name is one sentence, and it is just that. It is thank you for referring Ben to me. It is putting in their name and reminding them that they referred them to you and saying thank you for it. It’s the easiest way to plant that kind of direct referral seed. But when we’re doing six to eight touch points in a year, there is a rhythm, there’s a cadence, there’s a way that we do it so that it doesn’t feel pushy and it doesn’t feel like that’s all this is about. And it always connects back to what you do as well.

Ben Jones: Now, the last, and I think this is often the most missed step, is this idea of automating the plan and measuring the results. And this is where I think people try to manage it off the side of their desk and so then they don’t automate the plan or then they don’t measure the results and they don’t know why it’s not working or where to adjust the system. So walk me through some of the ideas you’ve got here.

Stacey Brown Randall: I always tell folks that what this has to become is part of your workflow and your process. In some cases, that does mean there are pieces and parts of this that you can outsource and delegate to other people on your team. In some cases, there are things about putting it as a part of your workflow to make sure that you do it is also really important. So making sure it actually becomes a part of like, if you’re going to send out client docs to be signed, and that’s part of your workflow process, so is your referral plan. And it’s just figuring out how we get it into your workflow. And I always tell folks, I don’t need you to buy software to make this happen. I just need you to use what you have to make sure these things actually happen, whether your calendar, your task list, maybe it’s your CRM, something that automates these activities for you that tell you it’s time to do them and so that they actually happen. And then the tracking of your results, that the biggie. I always tell folks and people always say, well, we have to track our results because you want to know if it works. I’m like, well, you should want to know if it works. And yes, of course, I want to know if it works because I know that’s how you’re going to determine that there’s ROI. Except I don’t actually care about your results your first year. I mean, I care. Of course I care. But what I care about is when a financial advisor named David Ferguson starts in the program with me and he’s got two or three referrals a year. And he’s so excited in his first year following the program he hits 15 and I’m like, yay, happy dance. That’s not what I care about. What I care about is now that David’s in his third year and he knows exactly where his referrals are going to come from. And he got 17 last year. So it went from 15 to 17 and 17 in the COVID year, which of course people were off whether they wanted to be. Some were up, some were down, some were in the middle. And so he got more referrals the next year. And now he’s like, I have a plan. I have a process. And 2021 is the third time he’s going to execute on his referral plan. And he knows what he can expect. And he knows what his gaps are. So he goes from two or three referrals to 15 and then to 17, because that is ultimately why I want you tracking your results. Because when you can show yourself year over year growth of what it looks like to generate more referrals, then I actually know you’re more willing to do it. I mean, I worked with a team of seven financial advisors, and they got about 40 referrals a year. And somewhere between 30 to 40 referrals a year was their average. And then we worked together for one year and they brought in over 80 referrals for the team for that year. And when you do the ROI on that, and actually what that means, in terms of that is really great for the first year. But it’s like, okay, what’s happening in the second year? What’s happening in the third year? And that’s how I want people to track and measure their results is, when you’re doing the plan, how many referrals are you receiving? But then we also start tracking what’s your close ratio on referrals? What’s your close ratio by individual referral sources? And then what happens if you need more referral sources? Because just because I refer you once doesn’t mean I’ll do it forever. I could move, I could leave town, I could change jobs, I may not come across somebody that I can refer to you, whatever it is. So you also need to know when your referral source list is getting a little light, what does it look like to turn people into referral sources? So all of these things are just the data driven numbers that we have to be tracking in our business because the data tells us what actions to take. And that’s super important to do it from a place of data.

Emily Larsen: I think today’s show really speaks for itself. The importance of a good referral plan and process laced with gratitude cannot be overstated. We want to thank Stacey for sharing her wisdom on the topic. You can find her website, including her Growth by Referrals program at the link in our show notes. Here’s Stacy with some final thoughts to wrap up.

Ben Jones: The first question I have for you is what is the number one do not do when it comes to referrals?

Stacey Brown Randall: Do not ask. Nobody wants to be asked and you don’t want to be seen as the adviser who asks.

Ben Jones: All right. And if you’re a client that has been referred to an advisor that gets it right, what does that feel like?

Stacey Brown Randall: Well, I think it’s one of those moments where you don’t have buyer’s remorse. When you get referred to someone and you make the decision to trust the referral source and to work with this advisor, I think it’s the idea at the end of the day that you just feel like you made the right choice, like you made the right decision. And that means expectations were set properly, communication is done well, you don’t feel like you’re always reaching out for the information that was thinking for you in terms of what you’re going to need and what it’s going to look like. I mean, that’s number one thing. And I’ve changed advisors before. So I know exactly and intimately what this process is like. Do you guys have any idea how much mail you guys send? And it doesn’t actually even matter if it’s paperless now, it’s still an inbox coming with me something I’m like, do I need to keep this? Think for me. Tell me what I need to be keeping and what I don’t need to be keeping as a client. I mean, I think that’s one of those sticky client experience moments that you should have is understanding what is it like to work with you? And then go around on the other side, on the client side, and figure out how to make that easier. But you know when your advisor has it right, when your planner gets it right, because they’re thinking for you and they’ve managed your expectations.

Ben Jones: Excellent. Now, if you were going to summarize our entire conversation today in one or two sentences, what would they say?

Stacey Brown Randall: You need to make sure you know exactly who your referral sources are and let that guide the next steps for you.

Ben Jones: Thank you for listening to Better Conversations. Better Outcomes. This podcast is presented by BMO Global Asset Management. To access the resources discussed in today’s show, please visit us at www.bmogam.com/betterconversations.

Emily Larsen: We love feedback and would love to hear what you thought about today’s episode. You can send an email to [email protected]

Ben Jones: And we really respond.

Emily Larsen: We do.

Ben Jones: If you thought of someone during today’s episode, we would be flattered if you would take a moment and share this podcast with them. You can listen and subscribe to our show on Apple podcasts or whatever your favorite podcast platform is. And of course we would greatly appreciate it if you would take a moment to review us on that app. Our podcast and resources are supported by a very talented team of dedicated professionals at BMO, including Pat Bordak, Derek Devereaux. The show is edited and produced by Jonah Geil-Neufeld and Sam Peers Nitzberg of Puddle Creative. These are the real people that make the show happen. So thank you. And until next time I’m Ben Jones.

Emily Larsen: And I’m Emily Larson. From all of us at BMO Global Asset Management, hoping you have a productive and wonderful week.

Disclosure: The views expressed here are those of the participants and not those of BMO Global Asset Management, its affiliates or subsidiaries. This is not intended to serve as a complete analysis of every material facts regarding any company, industry, strategy or security. This presentation may contain forward looking statements. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such statements as actual results could vary. This presentation is for general information purposes only and does not constitute investment, legal, or tax advice and is not intended as an endorsement of any specific investment product, security, or service. Individual investors are to consult with an investment, legal, and or tax professional about their personal situation. Past performance is not indicative of future results. BMO Global Asset Management is the brand name for various affiliated entities of BMO Financial Group that provide investment management and trust and custody services. BMO Financial Group is a service mark of Bank of Montreal. Further information can be found at www.bmogam.com.  C11: 12884265

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