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Revealed: The two assets advisers and planners must develop before building a recommendation strategy

Recommendations (if you read last week’s blog you will know why we’ve stopped calling them referrals) will always be the best type of new enquiry.

However, most firms haven’t developed a recommendation strategy. They’re reactive, happy to accept what they get, rather than actively driving more recommendations that in turn will improve efficiency, drive growth and improve profit margins.

We’re on a mission to change that.

So, over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing our best ideas to help you get more recommendations from existing clients. Last week, we explained three simple changes you can make now. This week, we’re going to reveal the two assets that you will need to successfully build a recommendation strategy.

Asset #1: A client survey

Running a client survey before you build a recommendation strategy is essential.

A client survey should create three types of opportunity:

  • Business improvement
  • Marketing
  • Sales.

In relation to recommendations, your survey should help you understand three things:

1. The proportion of your clients (and their names) that are happy to recommend you to others

There’s no point in starting to develop a recommendation strategy if your clients aren’t prepared to advocate on your behalf. Your survey should tell you whether your clients are happy to recommend you to others. Assuming the results are positive, then having the names of clients willing to recommend you will be invaluable when the time comes to build your strategy.

2. The number of clients (and their names) who have recommended you in the past 12 months

This shows how large the gap is between the proportion of clients who are happy to recommend and those who are actually doing it. Again, the names of clients who have recommended you in the past 12 months will be incredibly useful when it comes to building your strategy.

3. The barriers to them recommending you 

There could be some people who don’t currently feel able to recommend you to other people. They might feel your service levels aren’t quite up to scratch, they are nervous about who to recommend you to or there could be other reasons. Either way, if you understand the barriers, you can start breaking them down.

By the way, we’ll write more about these barriers in coming weeks, when we address the ‘dirty dozen’; the 12 reasons why financial advisers and planners don’t get more recommendations.

Naturally, there will be other information you want to get from your client survey. However, when it comes to recommendations, it’s these three pieces of information that are crucial.

Asset #2: New enquiry data

There are two reasons you should record every single new enquiry:

  1. It allows you to make evidence-led decisions about your marketing
  2. You can’t nurture prospects who don’t immediately become clients if you don’t record their details

And we do mean every new enquiry. The good, the bad and the ugly. If you only record the ‘good’ enquiries or those that go to a first meeting you will create a misleading, and falsely positive, picture of your marketing. Recording every new enquiry is the only way to build an accurate picture of how your marketing is going.

So, we encourage all our clients to collect up to 12 data points for every new enquiry. These are:

  1. First name
  2. Last name
  3. Email address
  4. Telephone number
  5. Date enquiry received

Nothing too difficult or controversial so far, although you’d be surprised at how few firms actually record even this basic information!

  1. Do you want to work with the prospect?
  2. Was a first meeting agreed?
  3. Did the prospect become a client?
  4. The source of the enquiry
  5. The name of the existing client or professional connection who made the recommendation
  6. The reason why the prospect didn’t become a client, if applicable
  7. The revenue generated (both initial and ongoing) and, if relevant to your business the AUM added.

Click here to read more details about why you should collect each of the 12 data points.

Recording every new enquiry will show you the number of recommendations received and creates a baseline that you can work to improve. It also helps you to understand the gap between the number of clients who have recommended you in the past 12 months (data shown your client survey) and the recommendations you actually received. Finally, it shows the names of clients who have recommended you to others, essential information when the time comes to build your strategy.

Enquiry data can be collected in a variety of places, but most advisers/planners pick one of three options:

  1. Their existing back-office system
  2. A bespoke sales-based CRM such as Salesforce, Pipedrive etc
  3. A Simple spreadsheet.

So many firms like the simplicity of the last option that we’ve created a simple enquiry recording spreadsheet. We’re happy to give that away for free, so if you’d like a copy, please click here to email your request.

Create solid foundations

You shouldn’t start to develop a recommendation strategy until you have developed these two assets. They will tell you:

  • Your current position
  • The size of the opportunity
  • The clients who are most likely to be advocates and recommend you to others
  • The specific barriers you should be addressing.

We’re here to help.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you run a client survey project, click here to drop us an email.

And, as we said above, if you would like a copy of the enquiry recording spreadsheet, please click here to email your request.

The dirty dozen

Next week, we’ll reveal the first six reasons why advisers/planners don’t get more recommendations and how to address each of them.

In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about how we help advisers and planners just like you generate more recommendations from existing client’s email [email protected] or call 0115 8965 300.

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