Last month we promised you more great ideas from MDRT’s Court of the Table Best Practices Forum. If you’ve never heard MDRT Past President Tony Gordon speak, well, you’ve missed a career-changing event. This referral script that he offered attendees seemed too good—and too easy—to be true. But Gordon assured us that it was a key element in building his Top of the Table practice.
Setting the stage
Gordon begins with this preamble to set the stage for referrals (and remember, this is all being delivered in an elegant English accent!):
His prospect, Jason, is sitting before him, and Gordon says: “Jason, the difference between my firm and those others in the financial-services business is simply that most people spend the bulk of their time looking for new people to do business with, and that leaves them very little time to look after the clients they have. But in my firm, we do completely the opposite. We spend very little time looking for new clients, which leaves us the bulk of our time to actually look after our clients. Jason, you may wonder how we are able to do this. Well, it’s very simple. We only take on as clients people to whom we are personally introduced or to whom we are personally recommended.”
And then he changes gears: “Enough about me, Jason, and my firm, I’d like to move on to your factfinder.”
Wait, wait …
With this preamble, you’ve done two things, says Gordon. First, you have given the prospect something that differentiates you from your competitors. Second, you have planted the idea that you expect referrals from him.
Then, when Jason is a client and Gordon has met with him several times, he reminds him of that initial conversation: “Jason, do you remember when we met a couple of weeks ago? And at that time I said that the difference between my firm and the others out there is they spend most of their time looking for new people to do business with and no time at all looking after their clients. Remember, Jason, how I explained that we are completely the opposite—we spend the bulk of our time looking after our clients? And the reason we can do this is that we only take on as clients people to whom we are personally introduced or to whom we are personally recommended. Jason, I am only really interested in meeting people I can get on well with in the same way that you and I have gotten on so well together. I am really interested in meeting people who …”
Now, Gordon tells him the kind of prospect he wants. In the case of Jason, a small-business owner, Gordon says: “I am really interested in meeting people who run their own successful business like you do. Jason, who do you know who runs his own small business?”
When Jason comes up with a name, Gordon replies: “He sounds just like the sort of person I’d like to meet. You don’t mind me using your name to help with the introduction, do you?” But, don’t stop with just one name, he says. Keep the stream of referrals going by continuing the conversation: “Who else would fall into that category—who else runs his own business? … Oh, and who else do you do business with?”
Remember to change the request based on who is sitting across from you, “I am really interested in meeting people who … have capital … who have recently married and have young families …”
While the script is easy to convey via words, it is harder to convey the tone. When he is face-to-face with a client, Gordon says, “I would be very quiet and very nonconfrontational.” But at the same time, he admits that there has to be “just a little bit of pressure,” because when was the last time a client has come in and volunteered to buy something?