In this Swift Chat video conversation, Marie Swift speaks with Bill Cates, President of Referral Coach International and founder of the Cates Academy for Relationship Marketing about his new book Beyond Referrals, which gives advisors the tools they need to transform introductions into new clients.
The two discuss converting referrals into engaged introductions, why people make referrals, how to form business friendships, and shed more light onto what type of client relationships lead to introductions.
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For more information on the Bill Cates Relationship Marketing System, visit ReferralCoach.com
What happens when you work the principles of engagement with a brand new prospect with whom you just were connected, and they start to feel that sense of engagement, then they become the client. Then you add on to that sense of engagement and then you leverage it, and the wheel just keeps flowing. So it's engagement, leverage connection, engagement, leverage connection, and it really can create a perpetual flow of high level clients coming your way." ~ Bill Cates, President of Referral Coach International
Transcription of Conversation
Marie Swift: Well, hello everybody. And welcome back to another great Swift Chat. And I'm joined today by Bill Cates and he probably needs no introduction because, Bill, you are widely recognized as one of the most foremost experts in the art and science of acquiring new clients through referrals and personal introductions.
You're the president of Referral Coach International and the founder of the Cates Academy for Relationship Marketing and also a best-selling author. So we want to talk about one of your most recent books and it's called Beyond Referrals. And you talk about how to convert referrals into something you call engaged introductions, so let's talk about that.
Bill Cates: And the title 'Beyond Referrals' really conveys the fact that the referral is not the end game. The referral is a means to an end. The end game, of course, is a new client. The referral is a path there. And with that said, we know that the 'referred lead'-- "call George use my name"-- it just doesn't work anymore because George doesn't pick up the phone. George doesn't know who you are, et cetera. It's just hard to reach people. And so we've got to think in terms of the introduction. And what do I mean by an 'engaged introduction' is that that the introduction, and developing the right introduction, needs to be a collaborative effort.
We want to get our client, whoever's introducing us, engaged in the introduction. And so what happens in using referrals/introductions is our referral source is a source of information about the prospect that we usually can't get anywhere else, a little bit about their personality, about what's going on in their life that's important to them. And we know that money intersects all aspect of one's life. So whatever's going on that's important could be the reason for the introduction and the reason for our follow-up. So working with the client, we make sure we find an introduction that fits.
And just to top it off... think about how before COVID, nobody knew what the FDA looked for in a drug when it was approving it for the market. Now everybody knows, right? Safe and effective. Well, that's what we want for introductions. We want it to feel safe for the person making the introduction, the introducer, and safe for the person being introduced to. And then effective for us, meaning we want to at least pique their interest in hearing from us. So that's what I mean by an engaged introduction.
WHAT MOTIVATES REFERRALS?
Swift: I don't know if you saw this study, but the New York Times does a study every other year or so. And it talks about the reasons that people share, and it's because really at the end of the day, they want to help other people, or there's something that makes them feel and look important with their peer group, with their family, with a friend, or they're entertained enlightened, something supports their world view. So I think you're hitting at that with this 'engaged introductions' concept.
Cates: Well, I think so. One study that I saw done by Julia Littlechild out of Toronto, Canada showed that, and this is in the world of financial advisory, it was roughly 60%, 67%, something like that, of clients gave referrals, made introductions to help their friend, their family member, whoever, to help someone else. And 33%, roughly, did it to help their advisor. Well, that's not an insignificant number. And so what we're trying to do is really tap into both potential motivations. And that is: we're asking for help to help others, right? We're on a mission. We believe in our value. We know there isn't a single person in this world we couldn't sit down with and help in some way around the work we do.
Now, you may not be looking for just anyone. You may be particular about who you want to do that with, but nonetheless, we know we have value. We help people make important decisions that they might not make without us. And so that's why we're doing this. That's why we're trying to be proactive in this arena. And some clients will do it to help their friends. And sometimes it is ego based, as you mentioned. Sometimes they want to look good, want to look important that they know someone and they can help... whatever it takes to create advocates, it's good. And that's why we want to think in terms of introductions and extending what we do multiplying our best clients.
Swift: I'm thinking about over the years, and you and I have been around for 30 or so years each in this industry. My boss taught me back in the day to say, "Don't keep me a secret. Be sure to tell your friends and family, there are three ways we get paid." It just feels like that's hackneyed and old now. Maybe you could just talk about the distinctions of how things have changed over the years from your perspective.
Cates: The 'how we get paid' two ways, three ways, depending on the work you did. I'm not an advocate of that, because that really is about the advisor. It's about money in your pocket when you should really be talking about your client's money and serving them. But what you're talking about, "don't keep me a secret" or, "we're never too busy to see if we can be a resource or have helped other people you care about." What those are is that's promoting introductions, promoting referral, and that definitely has its place. I mean, I have a book called Don't Keep Me a Secret. I love the phrase. It doesn't fit everyone. It doesn't fit everyone's style. And yet a lot of people have a lot of success with it.
So we have to pick and choose the verbiage, the word tracks, that are appropriate for us in our clients. What that is, is that's essentially promoting the possibility. So two years ago, I was having a COVID safe dinner with my advisor, Aaron, outside, and he sat down and first thing out of his mouth was he says, "Bill, I heard something today that you would probably tell me, I shouldn't hear."
And I go, "okay, what happened?" He says, "well, I was meeting with a client, a very high level, one of my best clients, other than you Bill, of course." I go, "thank you." " And she says, 'Aaron, are you still taking on new clients?'" And I go, "yeah, that's not good." In the right way, we want our clients to know that we are never too busy to see if we can be a resource or help others or help people make sure they're touching the right bases, et cetera. So it definitely has its place. And we want people to know that we're there. I don't care how successful someone is in this business. I haven't met anybody who wouldn't take on another right fit client.
As long as they're in the right fit, the right lanes, then they'll do it. And that's really what my business is about is multiplying your best clients, whatever 'best' means to you.
GOING BEYOND REFERRALS
Swift: Your book title, 'Beyond Referrals.' So what does that mean, going beyond referrals?
Cates: So what happened is, two books before that was 'Get More Referrals Now,' and I talked about client service, I talked about networking. I talked about targeting markets and asking and that. And so now, like I said, getting the referral isn't the end game-- we want the clients. So Beyond Referrals is split into four sections.
The first one is some new thinking and some ideas about how to be appropriately proactive, whether we're promoting or potentially asking. And, if anybody wants to know, can you build a very successful, robust, referral-only business? The answer is yes you can, with or without asking. Asking will get you there faster, but you can do that.
The next part is about the introduction as we've talked about, getting connected, right? And then the next part in the book is a little bit about appointment-setting because how you go about setting appointments and reaching out to your prospects when you've been introduced is a little bit different than if it's some other source.
And then there's actually some, some let's call it sales strategies there. How do we bring someone in as a new client? How do we confirm the relationship? I don't like to say close the sale, but confirm the new relationship. So we take it all the way to the end game, which is a new client.
Swift: There's a term that I've heard more and more lately about becoming referrable and you mentioned Julie Littlechild and she has a, or did have, a podcast-- I'm not sure if it's still going -- with Steve Wershing called "Becoming Referable." And I think that's a part of your strategy, too, right? Being referable.
Cates: Yes. And they have stopped their podcast. I just talked to Julie recently. In fact, I'm inviting her to my podcast, just like you'll be on there, too. And so here's what Julie's research did-- she has a lot of great research by the way I do recommend her work-- so she found that satisfied clients are very loyal clients, but there's actually a low correlation between client satisfaction and giving referrals, making introductions. In fact, in her study, only 20% of satisfied clients engaged in this process. However, the next level as she called it, 'engaged clients,' I think it was like 98% of those folks participated in making recommendations, creating introductions.
So who gives referrals? Who makes introductions? Well, it's engaged clients. Alright. So what do we mean by an engaged client? In other words, what does it take to become referred? Or maybe I could say "introducible" because we're looking for introductions. And it's something that most advisors are doing anyway.
And yet I found that when I shed a lot of light and show folks how to do it even better, they become better at it. And so the first thing is you want to make sure that your prospects and clients feel engaged in your value. So obviously they like the questions you asked, they like the things you teach, they like your response of service. And by the way, responsive service, isn't what I mean by client engagement. That's just a piece of it, right? So it's just ongoing throughout the entire client journey of connection with value and personalized value to those folks.
The other part of it is they feel connection, a personal connection. Now maybe you're not bosom buddies and you go out drinking late at night and tell each other deep dark secrets. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about business friendships, where they like us and we like them and the conversations go beyond the core work that we do. So that's a connection to who we are as individuals and throughout the entire relationship from prospect, to brand new client, to ongoing client, we have to think of hitting on both of those cylinders, if you will, keep adding value. Keeping keep enhancing the personal side of the relationship.
That's what an engaged client is. Someone who's engaged in the relationship more than people who keep an arm's length. And there are a lot of advisors that keep an arm's length with their clients, which is quite unfortunate, generally speaking. Now they probably attract people who like the arm's length, so maybe it's okay. But what we know is most clients like the idea of a bit of a business friendship with their advisor. They appreciate that.
Swift: The work that I did in the early days of 2020, when we were going through that really tough reality check -- the market was volatile, there was a stock market, felt like a crash, what was happening in this pandemic? I did a study and we dubbed it, "The Conversations that Matter" study and what we found is about just under 400 advisors told me stories. Half of them actually wrote essay questions, which is quite phenomenal. I think they really wanted to tell their stories and what they had done to bond with their clients.
And the ones that were growing were the ones that had that business friendship. They actually stepped into being more vulnerable and talking about things that were quite personal and sharing their own fears, even going so far as to help their clients who needed toilet paper and Clorox to deliver it, or soup and biscuits or whatever. I think you're onto the idea of, people have to like and trust you as well as... that likability factor is really important.
Cates: No question. People, all things being equal, people do business with people they like. All things, not being equal, people still do business with people they like.
BUILDING A PERPETUAL REVENUE SYSTEM
Swift: Before we wrap up today, I want to hit on this thing you call the 'perpetual revenue systems.' So can you walk us through that quickly?
Cates: And we've kind of touched on that already, but what we're going to do is put a little bow on it. And so it really is a process that if we engage in and do a good job, it really will create a perpetual flow of good quality, right-fit clients. And so the first thing is this engagement, right? The first word is engagement, referrability, creating that relationship where there's value, connection, personal connection. From there it's leverage, which is that part we talked about proactive, right? Promoting introductions, potentially asking for introductions; in the right way, without begging, without pushing, having a process there.
A lot of advisors that come to me feel kind of guilty because they know they're sitting on a gold mine of opportunity. They're just not nudging it quite the way they would like to and in a way that's going to work. So that's leverage. And then the next word is connection, which means we got to get introduced. We've got to get connected. Could be an email handshake, could be at an event, could be breaking bread, golf, round of golf, whatever it is, but we're getting connected.
And so what happens when you work the principles of engagement with that brand new prospect, with whom you just were connected and they start to feel that sense of engagement, then they become the client and you add on to that sense of engagement and then you leverage, and the wheel just keeps flowing. So it's engagement, leverage connection, engagement, leverage connection, and it really can create a perpetual flow of high level clients coming your way.
Swift: It sounds so simple! But I'd like to wrap up with this: I understand you have a gift, an e-guide of some sort that you're willing to offer my tribe and my viewers, my listeners.
Cates: Yes, thank you. It's a guide that really kind of brings together all the things I've been doing lately, which is the referral, the introduction, the Beyond Referrals book, and then my new book, Radical Relevance, and how we talk about our value proposition and targeting a market. And it brings it all together in one guide.
And so it's ExponentialGrowthGuide.com. The guide is free, but I believe you'll find the information valuable.
Swift: Bill, thank you so much for all you have shared with us today.
Cates: My pleasure. Happy to serve. Thank you.