Every marketing guru tells financial advisors to consistently ask clients for referrals, which is very good advice.

But there is something better than a client supplying a name when asked to, and that is getting that client to offer unsolicited praise in a social setting about an advisor’s services, especially when the advisor isn’t present.

McKinsey & Co. recently published interesting research about the power of client driven word-of-mouth marketing: mckinsey.com/insights/marketing_sales/a_new_way_to_measure_word-of-mouth_marketing.

Among the more notable findings were:

  • “The rewards of pursuing excellence in word-of-mouth marketing are huge, and it can deliver a sustainable and significant competitive edge few other marketing approaches can match. Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20% to 50 % of all purchasing decisions.”
  • “It is the only factor that ranks among the three biggest consumer influencers. It is also the most disruptive factor.”
  • “Experiential word of mouth, where a client is advocating a product or service based on his/her direct experience, has the best results. And when the advocate is a trusted source, the benefits are 50-fold.”

So what is the best way to credibly get clients to discuss an advisor and the excellent service they receive? Provide them with memorable stories that are jogged by conversational triggers in a social setting.
Advisors should write down a few short and simple stories about problems they have solved for other clients, issues that they have pre-empted by advice or pro-active steps that they have taken to help clients. Advisors should focus on a seemingly simple decision that could have turned into a bigger issue had they not intervened.

Remember to tell these stories from the client’s perspective. The wonder is in the end result for the client.

Then refine these stories to make terrific conversation pieces with a happy ending, anecdotes that clients can internalize and recount in a social setting in their own words.

Practice telling these stories to friends and family and see if Uncle Fred recounts it to Aunt Martha at the next family dinner. Then interweave these stories into first-quarter meetings and conversations with top clients and enjoy the benefits of word-of-mouth referrals.

Rajini Kodialam is the co-founder of Focus Financial Partners LLC in New York.

This story is part of a 30-day series on how to generate the best referrals.