Make a Commitment to Building a Referral-Based Business and Living a Referral Lifestyle

By Bill Cates, CSP, CPAE

President, Referral Coach International


            Are you committed to building a referral-based business?  Really?  Are you sure?  Or are you merely dabbling in referrals.  And you know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you?  You know what to do with a referral when you trip over it, but are you using a proven, systematic approach to acquiring new clients through referrals?  You may have the best of intentions, but your commitment shows through your actions – nothing else. Do your actions demonstrate a real commitment to living a referral lifestyle?

            Why are most advisors/agents not fully committed to being proactive for referrals?  Simple! Lack of confidence.  I’ve been teaching my Referral Advantage Program® since 1995. And without question, the #1 reason why advisors/agents aren’t proactive for referrals is fear based. In the absence of confidence resides fear. The beautiful thing is that once you understand, face, and move through your fear, a whole new world of referral opportunity opens up to you. Your referral results increase substantially. My goal in this and future articles for HPN is to help you increase your confidence with referrals – therefore – increasing your results.


Build a Business Based on How People Want to Meet You

            Here’s a thought for you. How would your next great (best ever) client prefer to meet you? Through a cold call? No! In a seminar? Only by default. From a direct mail piece? You’ve got to be kidding! Study after study has demonstrated that the best clients want to meet you through an introduction from someone they already trust, like a friend, family member, colleague, CPA, attorney, etc. Knowing this, why would you make referrals a passive process and not become proactive?


Leads are a Recipe for Mediocrity in this Business

            When you’re new in this business, take all the leads you can. You need to practice getting good at running appointments and articulating your value. You need to make some sales no matter how small they may be. But you don’t want to become addicted to leads. There are very few top producers working leads. They are self-generating their opportunities – through referrals and other relationship marketing strategies. Make a pledge to be lead free by the end of your fifth year (before if you can).


Do You Want Referrals or Introductions?

            That’s an easy one. You want introductions. In this article – and all my subsequent articles – I’ll be using the word referrals most of the time. However, what we really want is an introduction. Referrals just aren’t enough anymore. It’s so hard to reach people these days that we need our referral source to put a good word in for us – so our new prospect will return our phone call or email.  So even though you’ll see me using the word referrals – consider it a “for internal use only” word. With clients, we should always use the word “introduction.”  In future articles I will teach you how to turn a referral into an introduction.


Become a Student of the Game

Have you heard the expression “Become a student of the game?” You hear this expression a lot in sports, where a player, who has become a student of the game, is able to become a great coach as well. A scholar is often referred to as a “student of history.” I consider myself a “student of referrals.” I am always learning from the people I teach. I read, listen to, and watch every referral educational program I can get my hands on. Why? Because the more I know, the better I can help you!

            You too can become a student of referrals. Learn all you can – from me and from others. And as you learn about referrals, start teaching what you know to others. There is no better way to cement your knowledge and skill than by teaching what you know. Here’s a bonus item. Teach your clients who need referrals for their business what you know about generating referrals. The referral conversation becomes totally transparent and they will start giving you referrals.


Critical Questions

            Here are seven critical questions to ask yourself.  Your answers to these questions become your to-do list to building a thriving referral-based business and living a referral lifestyle. I will address these questions in detail in subsequent article for the Hoopis Performance Network.

  1. Are you using an advisor-centered referral process or a client-centered referral process? Do you even know the difference?
  2. Do you forget to ask for referrals? Do you lack a reminder mechanism to make sure you don’t forget?
  3. Are you as referable as you need to be? Do you know what it takes to get an abundance of referrals without even asking for them?
  4. Are you aware of your limiting thinking and/or fears that keep you from seeing the incredible opportunities in front of you just about every day?
  5. Are you using a proven, systematic approach to being proactive for referrals?
  6. Are you turning your referrals into introductions?
  7. Are you receiving the referrals you get in such a way as to stimulate even more referrals from your referral source?


Stay tuned to my future articles on HPN for discussion on these and other strategies to help you acquire more clients.  If you can’t wait for my next article, check out my brief bio that follows for some great resources.



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Bill Cates works with financial professionals and their companies to acquire more and better clients through referrals and other relationship marketing strategies. One of Bill’s clients said his system, “Makes getting referrals as easy as breathing.”  Get started know in building your thriving referral-based business. For free weekly referral tips, go to:  Bill offers two video-based training programs.  Individuals should check out his complete self-study system at:   Leaders/managers should check out his group training program at: