Five reasons clients don’t refer and what you can do about it

(Steve Holmes)

It is no secret that referrals are the preferred method for growing a business. Other ways of reaching prospective clients such as cold calls, networking and direct mail can be frustrating, unpredictable, time-consuming and expensive pursuits, yet most advisers find that referrals do not occur as frequently as they would like.


Many advisers believe they have two options when it comes to referrals.

  1. They can be proactive about introducing the topic with their clients, or
  2. They can sit back and wait for referrals to fall from the sky.

Some advisers resist being proactive because asking for referrals makes them uncomfortable, but avoiding the topic rarely results in referrals.


So, what are the five reasons and what can you do?

  1. Your clients don’t value your services

Does this client or colleague value your products and services enough that he or she would recommend you to someone important in his or her life?

TIP: A continuous reiteration of what you are doing after each discussion and why you want to help, it is also a good idea to use testimonials on how you have helped others.

  1. Your clients don’t understand what you do
    Does this person fully understand everything that you do, or does he or she stereotype you based on limited services?

TIP: Ensure that your clients know the full range of services that you provide and not just what has been delivered for them. At the end of the day, whose fault is it if a client uses your advice and service during the accumulation phase and seeks advice or refers elsewhere for retirement?

  1. Your clients don’t know you’re looking for new clients

Does this person know your business wants to bring on new, quality clients, and does he or she understand what an ideal referral would look like?

TIP: Let your clients know that the ultimate compliment to your business is when we receive a referral. When you feel as if you have helped someone, ask your client if they know of others that may have been in a similar position. Constantly remind your clients that you do not want to be kept a secret.

  1. Your clients don’t know how to make introductions

Does this person know how to make introductions to people who need your help?

TIP: Provide a nice easy natural process and be regular, it needs to be timely and habitual. Remind of how your clients can refer, either face to face, phone call, in the body of an email, email footer, website. Either way it needs to be part of your process and you need to keep asking, importantly be referable and thank your referrers so that they always think of you.

  1. Your clients are uncomfortable

Do you know how to approach this client or colleague about referrals in a way that is comfortable for everyone involved?

TIP: Whenever you ask for referrals, always be thinking, ‘safe and effective introductions.’ a client readily offers your name only when they:

  • Believe in you
  • Feels appreciated
  • Knows you make the time
  • Trusts you respect the personal connection
  • Know how to refer you (i.e you make it easy for them)

So what can we do about these five issues?

In short, no-one sells your business like an existing advocate.


  • Educate, add value, educate, and then ask


  • Educate, add value, thank, and remind

Making it happen

What internal mechanism triggers that client to offer your name? Is it the fact that you once asked him or her for names? Probably not. In those real moments what you’ve said in a meeting has little bearing whether or not that client will ever give you a name. In that split-second defining moment when you ask for a referral , it all comes down to whether or not he or she believes you’ve enriched their life.

  • Do they feel better off for having known you?
  • Is that client so sure of your integrity that they’re willing to put their own reputation on the line?
  • Is your bond tight enough and he or she cares enough to extend their experience to a best friend, new brother-in-law or big boss?

Be yourself

You represent the most important brand: yourself. How you walk, talk, carry yourself and deal with others in everyday situations affects how your clients see you – and how readily they’ll share your name with their inner circle. When you appreciate your clients’ visions and dreams, they in turn appreciate your ambitions and want to help. Be your best, plant the seed, and the referrals will flow naturally.

Are you interested in obtaining more referrals from strategic alliances?

If you are an advice professional such as an accountant, mortgage broker, solicitor or financial adviser and would like some proven engagement templates to help you work with other professionals, please feel free to reach out to me.

I will supply these templates at no cost for you.

Here’s my calendar link to make finding time easy for us.



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