Marketing planning calendar

Your referral year in review

It’s time for resolutions and plans. Before looking forward in making commitments, you may find it more productive to look back. Reviewing your experience over the past year can yield a lot of clues about what may create the biggest successes for the 12 months ahead.

Here are some statistics to compile.

How many referrals did you receive? Let’s start with the obvious. How did you do attracting referrals last year? Don’t judge. Whatever the answer, it is neither good nor bad. Is it what you wanted or do you want something different? Knowing this is the only way to evaluate the coming year.

While I recommend you avoid self-criticism, this is a reality check. Many advisors describe referrals as their primary or even exclusive business development strategy. In many cases, the reality is that there is no real marketing going on. Acknowledge the truth, even if it is that both of your new clients from last year were referred to you, and maybe it was not the result of a deliberate strategy.

How many of those referrals were target prospects? Just getting referrals isn’t really the goal, right? We want target clients. If the people you are being introduced to are all over the map demographically, professionally, or however you define your ideal client, it is important information. It means what your communicating needs clarity. The object is not to be referred, it is to be referred to the right people. Do you need to reflect on how you talk about referrals?

How many referral sources do you have? This is your single most important marketing statistic according to referral expert Stacey Brown Randall. Obvious and simple, the more sources of referrals you have the more referrals you can count on. A small improvement in this statistic can produce disproportionate results.

How often did you discuss referrals? Just like I tell my wealth management clients, it’s not goals that determine where you go, it’s habits. If talking about referrals requires a conscious effort, it is a lot less likely to happen. Is it a habit with you? If not, that may be a great goal for this year. For one example of a conversation you can practice, see this blog post.

How many presentations did you make to centers of influence? Not all referral sources are created equal. Clients may have the opportunity to refer you a couple times per year. Centers of influence come across them practically every week. In our great becoming referable episode with Melissa Intezar, she describes a specific strategy for cultivating COI’s as referral sources and engaging them in joint projects. Whether you engage with a center of influence that way, making sure they know what you do, who you do it for, and why you are different from other advisors is key.

How many referrals did you give? Lead by example. Make a habit of connecting your clients to resources they need. Connect centers of influence with each other. If referring becomes a natural part of who you are, the laws of attraction and reciprocity have an opportunity to kick in.

How many referrals do you want this year? Let’s be real. Some advisors respond “as many as I can get.” A dream (or hallucination) is not a goal. Where do you actually want your business to be? If you got 100 referred clients this year, would your system be capable of handling it? Is it really what you want? What growth do you want and can you handle and how many clients does that mean?

Once you have created that benchmark, consider how you would like to answer the previous questions 12 months from now.

As you map out your business development plan for the year, which of the questions of the last year can give you the most leverage?


Maybe your best clients can give you insight into how to be more referable. Maybe giving them some special attention can help them refer more often. A client advisory board can be your most effective tool. Download our free report “5 Things You Need to Hear from Your Clients” and find out more.

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