In his Referral Minute newsletter this week, Bill Cates discusses a difficult scenario: a client promises to email some people and introduce the advisor, but never does. Finally he just tells the advisor to go ahead and email the prospects directly himself.
Bill goes on to offer the following email template to use in this situation:
Subject: Bob Jones recommended I contact you.
Your friend, Bob Jones, recommended I contact you.
My partner and I have done some very high-level financial planning for Bob and he thought you should know about the type of work we do.
I was hoping we could find a time to speak briefly over the phone in the next week or so. At that time, we can determine if I might become a valuable resource for you, as I have for Bob.
Perhaps you can bounce back with a day and time frame when we might set up this quick call. Or, feel free to call me at 555-555-5555.
Thank you. I look forward to speaking with you soon.
As Bill says, the point here is not to try to set a face-to-face meeting via email, but rather to "'negotiate' a quick phone appointment," which will hopefully lead to more.
This is indeed a very helpful template if the only choice is in fact to email the referrals directly. But, as Bill points out, the entire scenario is less than ideal. Introductions always trump referrals (free registration required).
I like to think of it in terms of football. Imagine that your client is the quarterback, you're the receiver, and the referral is the ball. The closer the quarterback is to you when the ball leaves his hands, the more likely it is to land safely in your arms. The email scenario is like a long pass; there's a lot more room for error and for external forces to push that ball off in a direction you didn't want it to go. A live introduction over lunch, on the other hand, is equivalent to a handoff from six inches away. You could still lose the ball in the end, but your odds of success are a heck of a lot higher.
So... maybe we can step back and turn this situation around with a little analysis. The client promised to email the referrals but never did. Why? Most likely, it's just a time problem. You could offer to draft a quick introductory email for him, explaining that you've done this before and it will be much less time consuming for him that way. If he likes it, he can just plug in his name and the prospect's name and hit send. He doesn't have to do any work, and you still get to bask in what we call the "credibility glow" of his introduction. He may say "no," but hey, it's worth asking. Your offer may also convey to him that you're serious and really would like to follow up on these referrals, and that alone might goose him into finding the time to get it done himself.
Alternatively, maybe the client is procrastinating because he's actually uncomfortable about providing the referrals in the first place. We'll talk about that one next time.
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