Are You a 10 out of 10 on Referral Worthiness?

Study after study says, on average, the biggest source of new clients for financial advisors is referrals. Yet, most advisors complain that they don’t get nearly as many referrals as they’d like.

Recently, I was the guest on an episode of the Becoming Referable podcast. On the show, I shared an exercise that will help shine a light on how referral worthy your business is.

It’s pretty simple.

First, identify your top 10 clients. Use whatever criteria makes sense to you—annual recurring revenue, AUM, does planning, takes your advice, etc.

Second, ghostwrite a glowing, two or three sentence testimonial from each of those 10 clients about you and your firm. This will force you to think about what you’ve actually done for your 10 best clients and how referral worthy that result is.

If you’re having trouble getting your testimonials started, use some of these as sentence prompts.

  1. Since we started working with (your firm name), I no longer worry about…
  2. As a result of working with (your firm name), we…
  3. What I like most about (your firm name) is…
  4. The best thing (your firm name) has done for us is…
  5. The reason why I recommend (your name) to my friends and colleagues who are looking for an advisor is…

Third, objectively review each testimonial you wrote and ask yourself, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being “Absolutely, 100% referral worthy,” how referral worthy are you based on what you’ve accomplished with each client and based on the value you delivered relative to what the client paid you over the life of that relationship.

Take a look at your list. How many did you rate a 10? Realistically, people are much more reluctant to refer to a financial advisor than they are to, say, recommend a movie to a friend, so the “advisor referral bar” is much higher. You’ll likely need a 10 before clients would feel good about referring to you (and even then, many still won’t).

Another way to benefit from this exercise is to “reverse-engineer” what you need to do with your clients to generate a 10. Once you know the testimonial, you simply ask yourself, “What would we need to do/create/generate/deliver for this client that would make them excited to give us this glowing testimonial?” And then get busy doing that!


Steve Sanduski on the Becoming Referable Podcast.

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