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Every advisor recognizes that the best source of new clients is referrals. Despite this, many established advisors struggle to get introductions.

Recently, a successful advisor told me how he added just one line of text to his website – and got surprising referral results as a consequence.

That line:

New clients accepted by referral only

Positioning yourself as a “referral-only” advisor

Over the ensuing months, this advisor added a “New clients by referral only” agenda item to client meetings, saying:

“If you’ve been on my website recently, you may have noticed that I have a new policy that I only accept new clients who are referred by my existing clients or by accountants and lawyers I work with.

That’s because I have limited capacity to take on new clients – and in my experience, the new clients who I work with best and am able to help the most are referred by my existing clients, as they’re much more likely to be a good fit. So should you be talking to friends who might be interested in sitting down with me, let my assistant Lori know – I’d be happy to schedule a time to meet.”  

In fairness, this didn’t mark a big strategic departure for this advisor – almost all of his new clients were already coming from referrals. But by putting this in writing on his website and using this as a jumping-off point for conversations with clients, the number of referrals to prospective clients more than tripled.

What’s interesting is that these referrals didn’t happen immediately in client meetings.  Rather, the impact typically flowed in during the weeks that followed those meetings.

This advisor isn’t alone in making a public written statement that he only accepts new clients by referrals.  For example here’s a line from the bio of a chairman’s club producer with Merrill Lynch in Dallas:

She accepts new clients on a referral basis only, from a national network of accountants, attorneys and other professionals as well as her existing clients.

But cases like this are rare – even advisors who get the bulk of new clients from referrals don’t typically put this in writing as their policy.