Are your clients afraid to refer to you?

Do you wonder why you get so few referrals? You’ve studied hard, earned excellent credentials and give great service. Surely you have outstanding word-of-mouth – yet no referrals.

What could be the problem?

The Problem

Perhaps you should consider that maybe your clients and associates are afraid of making referrals.

“That’s crazy,” you retort. “What’s there to be afraid of?”

Consider this – your referral sources fear they’ll harm their own relationships by referring their friends and colleagues to you.

You’ve probably already heard or read, in my previous articles on referrals, about the risk of hurting your relationship with clients by directly asking them for referrals. When you ask them for this favor, you appear needy, and that’s not attractive. Your clients confidence in you takes a hit.

So you don’t ask for a favor. Instead, offer a favor. You offer to give a free consultation to your client’s friends and colleagues.

You say something like this: “As a value-added service to my clients, I’ll be happy to help any family, friend or colleague with their financial questions. Please let me know whenever someone you know has a need for my services.”

They smile and nod their heads, but again, no referrals. You wonder what’s wrong.

What may be wrong is this: they fear that if they refer someone, it may not go well and that will reflect badly on them. The friend may come back and say, “Boy that was some salesman you set on me.” Their relationship could be damaged and the aftermath could hurt your reputation too.

Better to be safe than sorry, your client thinks.

The Solution

When you understand this, fixing it is just common sense. During your referral conversations with your client, you reassure her that you will handle her friend with the same professional courtesy and sensitivity you show her.

You explain you’ll act as a thinking partner for her friend. You’ll review his circumstances and either reassure him that his plan is sound and there’s nothing more to do, or suggest some small changes that he can put in place now. As you know, small changes now can have big consequences down the road. And he doesn’t have to become a client to get your free advice.

Of course you are true to your word when you meet with her friend and treat him with a high degree of professionalism. You come from an attitude of service and help him make his own decisions. You want him to report positive things about you, not just to your client, but to his own friends and colleagues.

During your referral conversations, if you give this reassurance to your clients and others who might recommend you to their associates, you’ll see a big improvement in your flow of referrals.


So, it’s fear of hurting their own relationships that’s preventing many of the referral sources from passing your name onto their friends. They don’t want a faulty referral to reflect badly on them.

Once you reassure your client that you’ll handle the referral with the utmost tact and sensitivity, she will let her guard down and take you up on your offer, understanding that you have her best interests at heart.

Do your best to make it a good experience for everyone and you will begin getting more referrals.

What I just described is just one part of the referral process. I have a four-part system for getting a steady flow of profitable referrals. I’ll be revealing the other parts in future blogs.


In a few weeks, I’m giving a webinar teaching the complete system with step-by-step instructions, including exactly what to say at each step. Be on the lookout for the webinar announcement.

Talk soon,


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