How to Build Your Referral Sources

April 7, 2014 | By | Reply More

referral selling

Have you ever given a referral to someone and never gotten one in return? Have you ever wondered what you need to do to get attorneys and CPAs to reciprocate with referrals? If so, keep reading to learn the simple process that will ensure this never happens to you again.

One of the most important strategies for growing your practice is to consistently receive referrals from other professionals. Early in my career, I found it frustrating when I’d refer clients to other advisors and not receive referrals in return. I knew there had to be something I could do to consistently receive referrals from other advisors.

RELATED: Forget Cold Calling; Referral Selling is the Best Sales Strategy

So, I came up with a process that enabled me to develop effective referral sources and build relationships based on the benefits of reciprocal marketing. Here’s how to do it:

Step No. 1: Identify potential referral partner industries

Most of us think of CPAs and attorneys as ideal referral sources. While these are obvious options, there are numerous other professions you can tap into effectively. For example, I’ve had significant success getting qualified referrals from psychologists and coaches.

Let your mind wander and write down some professions you think might work for you. The key is to think outside the box — and don’t discount any industry. If you get blocked or just can’t seem to get the creative juices flowing, find a place to sit comfortably where you won’t be disturbed. With your dominant hand, write down the question: “Who are the best referral partners who will help me grow my business?” Then, with your non-dominant hand, write a list of all the professions you can imagine. You’ll be surprised what you come up with. Once you’ve listed 50 professions, place a star next to the ones that have been referral sources in the past.

Step No. 2: Select referral partner professions

Read through your list and select at least five professions you believe will be the most profitable and enjoyable to work with.

Step No. 3: Find 100 “pros” in your selected professions

Get contact information for 20 professionals in each of the five professions you selected. Start with people you know; ask friends for names or search online. You can even purchase names from a list broker. Remember to create a spreadsheet to track your progress as you reach out to each professional.

Step No. 4: Send out a “Let’s share referrals” mailer

This can be a letter or a postcard that explains who you are, what you do and why sharing referrals can benefit your recipients. Be brief and upbeat and send out your messages on a monthly basis until you get three active referral partners in each of your five professions.

If you already have a thriving practice, end each mailer with a message asking your prospective referral partners to call you. If your referral needs are more urgent, be more active by following up your mailings with a phone call.

Step No. 5: Set up a reciprocal referral mastermind group

Once you have your 15 referral partners, bring them all together in a group that meets via phone once a month and in person once a quarter. Connecting with your referral partners frequently allows you to create powerful relationships.

Step No. 6: Manage every referral

When you give referrals to your partners and receive referrals from them, it’s critical to have a process that recognizes the importance of those referrals. When I give someone a referral, I call my referral partner and provide them with the client’s name and an overview of their situation. Then I send out a “This referral is for you” card, followed up with a three-way introductory meeting with the referral and the referral partner.

RELATED: How to Get Referrals

Step No. 7: Create a follow-up strategy

Every quarter, call your referral partners individually to review referrals given and received, as well as to discuss how to serve each other even better.

Step No. 8: Automate the process

For more than a decade, I sent out my “Let’s share referrals” mailers, “This referral is for you” cards, thank-you notes and other written communications by hand. It was expensive and time-consuming—costing me an average of about $50,000 per year for staff and the cost of the mailers — but now I’ve set up an affordable system that takes most of the time, effort and expense out of the equation. This frees me up to complete the high-value, fixed daily activities that are critical to the continued growth and success of my business.

Follow these steps and don’t be surprised if you triple your referrals from other advisors.
Recommended Books on How to Build Your Referral Sources:

 About the Author : 

Annette Bau, CFP, founder of, and author of The Million Dollar Marketing System and the Affluent Women’s Marketing Guide: How to Create a Thriving Practice Working with Affluent Women, is a 20-year veteran in the financial services industry, specializing in working with millionaire business owners and affluent women.
How to Build Your Referral Sources
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How to Build Your Referral Sources
Have you ever given a referral to someone and never gotten one in return? Have you ever wondered what you need to do to get attorneys and CPAs to reciprocate with referrals? Learn how to build your referral sources.
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