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Want more referrals and recommendations? 8 words and phrases you should never use

We all know that recommendations from existing clients are the best type of new enquiry.

However, over the past few months, we’ve noticed some advisers and planners using language that harms their efforts to generate more recommendations.

So, using language that results in fewer recommendations means:

  • You will work less efficiently (largely because your conversion rate will be lower)
  • Spend more on marketing (to make up the shortfall in new enquiries)
  • Make less profit (because you’re working less efficiently and spending more on marketing).

We don’t want those three things to happen to you.

So, here are eight words and phrases (including two “classics” from the 1990s) that you should never use when talking to clients about recommendations.

#1: “Referral”

The word “referral” is widely used by advisers/planners, but it is hugely problematic.

Firstly, it’s not a particularly positive word. For example, if you go to your doctor and they think your ailment needs further investigation, they will refer you to a specialist. Secondly, I’ve never been convinced that clients actually understand what it means!

Instead, use “recommendation” or “introduction.”

Neither has the negative connotations of “referral” and are easier for clients to understand.

#2: “Who do you know?”

Whatever tactics you use to generate new recommendations, under no circumstances should you put your clients on the spot or make them feel obligated.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what “who do you know?” does.

From being put on the spot or feeling obligated, the next step is alienation, which will have the opposite effect to the one you desire.

Instead, explain who you work with, that you welcome being recommended or introduced to like-minded people, and then let your client take the next step.

#3: “Anyone”

Asking clients if there’s “anyone” they can recommend you to is a real issue.

Firstly, you’re making your clients’ lives too hard.

  • They don’t know who they should be recommending you to
  • They don’t know who you want to work with.

So, they’ll probably take the easy option and recommend you to no one.

After all, if you can’t be bothered to explain who you want to be recommended to, why should your client be bothered to think about who they know that you can help?

Secondly, if they do actually recommend you to someone, there’s a good chance it’ll be the wrong type of person, which wastes everyone’s time.

It’s far better to make your clients’ life easier by explaining who you want to be recommended to.

Be specific, explain exactly who you want to work with, and explain the value of working with you by telling stories.

#4: “Ask”

As we said, your existing clients are far less likely to recommend you to other people if they feel obligated to do so.

Asking for recommendations does exactly that.

Having a conversation with your clients about recommendations is essential.

But asking doesn’t work.

#5: “Who can you introduce me to?”

This combines two of the greatest recommendation sins:

  • Creating a sense of obligation by asking for the introduction
  • Making your clients’ lives harder by not being specific.

#6: “Someone”

See “anyone!”

Again, “someone” makes your client work too hard.

The likely result? No recommendations.

Instead, make their life easy. Explain exactly who you want to work with. Be specific.

If they know people who fit the description, names will start popping into their head.

#7: “You will need two books for the next meeting; your cheque book and your address book”

Unbelievably, this line was included in referral training I received in the mid-1990s.

To my shame, I even used it a few times.

The outcome? Cancelled meetings, strange looks, and a complete lack of recommendations.

I’d be amazed if anyone still uses that line. If you do, please stop.

It’s 2022 and times have moved on.

#8: “I get paid in two ways; through fees and referrals”

Another relic from a bygone era that should never see the light of day again.

Firstly, it isn’t true.

I’ve never seen an adviser increase their fees (or commission, as it was back then) if the client failed to deliver any recommendations.

Secondly, again, it creates a sense of obligation that will lead to alienation.

A workshop to help you generate more recommendations

Our workshop will help you solve these issues, while giving you plenty of other hints, tips, and ideas to develop a comprehensive recommendation strategy.

We run it once a quarter. The next will take place on 8 June.

So, if you want to maximise the recommendation opportunity, while learning more about the language you should use, this workshop is for you.

Here’s everything you need to know, including the date and ticket prices.

What will you learn?

During the workshop:

  • You will learn how to create the two key assets you need before developing your recommendation strategy
  • We’ll show you the two gaps you need to close to maximise the recommendation opportunity
  • You will develop a detailed understanding of the dirty dozen (the 12 reasons why advisers and planners don’t get more recommendations) and learn how to solve them
  • We’ll show you how to hold better recommendation conversations with your clients
  • We’ll explain the key phrases that encourage clients to recommend you to others (and those that turn them off)
  • Show you the processes you need to build and the bad habits you need to break.

The workshop will be followed by a Q&A session.

No one will leave with their questions unanswered.


Wednesday 8 June, 10.00 am to 12 noon.

How much

£95 plus VAT.

Click here to reserve your space.

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