For financial professionals and clients alike, few moments are quite as awkward as the point-blank request for a referral. It can come in many forms, including the vague, “Do you know anyone who can benefit from my services?”; the strangely dramatic, “Could you write down the names and numbers of three people I could contact?”; and the client-turned-marketer request, “I grow my business through referrals—is there anyone you could put me in contact with?”
There are numerous reasons why approaches like these can fail, not the least of which is that putting your clients on the spot can leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth and risk jeopardizing the strength of a known relationship for the possible gain of a new one. But there’s another problem with these approaches that encapsulates their fundamental flaw: requesting referrals like this is a sales tactic, and yet as a financial professional, you are in a service business. You are there to solve your clients’ problems, not ask them for help solving one of yours.