Bill Cates, president of Referral Coach International, has two rules when it comes to sending information to referral prospects: "Less is more" and "Provide value first." Prospects don't want to be bogged down with pages of information, and they certainly won't care about what you send if it doesn't relate to their unique situation. Yet if you do things right, an information packet sent after an initial correspondence like a phone conversation can be just the thing to convince a prospect that you and your services are worth their time.
To grab and keep the prospect's attention and arouse their interest, here's what Cates recommends you should include in your packet:
- Cover letter. This should be brief, mentioning the referral source (the prospect's friend, colleague, or family member) right off the bat. Address some of the things you discussed on the phone in a way that's of benefit to the prospect. I like my cover letters to be more like cover notes. I use a half sheet with my logo. I generate the note through my computer. It keeps my letters short and more informal.
When you're getting the referral, make sure you ask your source, "What do I need to say to George to get him to take an interest in the work I do?" Use the referral source's response in your letter.
- Testimonial letters (or a sheet of quick testimonial quotes). Third-party endorsements work! The more specific the letter, the better—about your service, the process you put people through, the quality of your advice and wisdom, and so on. Remember, however, financial service professionals cannot use letters that speak about actual monetary performance. Clients can talk about your knowledge, wisdom, and service, but not their portfolio performance. When you have great clients who just love your work, don't hesitate to ask them for a short recommendation letter. Then use the letters—or excerpts from them listed on a single sheet—in your information packet.
- Articles. Sending articles related to their needs, even if you didn't write them, elevates your status as an expert. Constantly be on the lookout for articles that your prospects and clients might find interesting or valuable. I suggest you underline parts of the articles, or write notes in the margins. This personalizes your clipping for that particular reader.
- Brochure. This is an optional item. In my experience, most people don't read brochures, but they will read the letters and probably read the articles.
- Something of value. What can you send to a prospect that might provide some value right from the start? Maybe the articles you send related to their issues will prove valuable. Maybe a book (compliance-friendly, of course) related to financial planning would be appreciated. The more you learn about your prospect, either from the prospect or your referral source, the more you can tailor what you send to him.
Read the entirety of Bill's article (free registration required) for even more advice on getting that first appointment with prospects.