How to Ask for Referrals by Letter
A good letter can be an effective way to ask for referrals.
Here's one I drafted for an investment advisor:
"I am writing to ask for your help.
"As I'm sure you're aware the past while has seen turmoil in the stock markets. A number of my clients recently expressed gratitude for my insistence that they stay in conservative investments that have performed very well in comparison to the carnage suffered by others in the past few years.
"In the coming year, I hope to add new clients who share my prudent philosophy and who have either tried (and failed) to manage their own portfolios or are dissatisfied with the advice that they've received from their financial advisors.
"Which brings me to my request.
"If you are happy with the job that I've done, may I ask you to consider introducing me to those of your friends who are unhappy with their investment portfolio.
”The last thing I want is for you or your friends to feel pressure or discomfort. Therefore, I have three suggestions:
* "First, if you've talked to someone whom you feel I should contact, tell me and I'll gladly get in touch with them.
* "Second, I have taken the liberty of attaching one of my business cards. Should the opportunity present itself, I'd be most grateful if you'd give it to a friend or colleague who might be interested in a complimentary second opinion on his or her portfolio.
* "Third, I would be delighted to add people you know to the mailing list for my newsletter, so they can get a better sense of the approach that I take to investing; simply fax or mail back the attached page with their particulars.
"Thank you in advance for putting me in touch with people who I can help in the same fashion in which I've helped you.
"In the meantime, if you have any questions about your own investments, as always, please don't hesitate to call me.
But remember that sending any letter is never a substitute for talking to clients about referrals face to face. Also, have low expectations for any mass request - especially in the short term.
That said, periodically planting the referral seed in your clients' minds can only help, provided that it is periodic and the way you ask doesn't undermine your position as a professional.
Dan Richards is President of Strategic Imperatives, which works on marketing strategies for distribution firms and top advisors. Dan's book "Getting Clients, Keeping Clients: The Essential Guide for Tomorrow's Financial Advisor" received a LIMRA Reader's Choice award and is available on amazon.com. Dan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org