CHANDLER, ARIZ. - In front of a packed conference room at the Peak Advisor Alliance Excell Meeting, Ron Carson of Carson Wealth Management asked the audience how many advisors ask for referrals at every opportunity.

Only a handful of the 409 independent advisors in attendance at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Hotel in Arizona raised their hands.

“Only about 3% or 4% of you raised your hands,” Carson said. “We teach referral prospecting, so we expected it to be better, but we are only about a third of the average.”

Ninety percent of advisors generate business through referrals, but only 10% to 15% of advisors ask for referrals, according to Greg Opitz, a coach at Peak. Advisors need to get more comfortable asking for referrals, he said, by “educating clients about why they love you so much and do business with you.”

“Remember, as an advisor that you have a great value proposition, you should share that with your clients,” he said. “Educate your clients to the point that they are telling your story for you.”

Carson said advisors need to begin by knowing what make them “unique and referable.”

Opitz said most advisors don’t ask for referrals because they aren’t comfortable asking, don’t know when to ask and don’t know how to ask.

Carson said advisors should always be asking for referrals, but Opitz said the best place to start is after a client compliments you for your business.

“You need to condition yourself to ask,” he said. “You always need to ask after someone compliments you.”

Some advisors may feel more comfortable scripting how they will ask for referrals, but Carson disagreed.

“I’m never into scripting anything, it will sound unnatural,” Carson said.

Carson said running targeted events can also help generate referrals. A targeted event could be a pheasant hunt for clients and potential clients that like hunting or a fishing trip.

Opitz said: “If you can make an event where a client can more comfortably invite their friends it will give them a place where it is easier to make referrals.”

It all comes back to an advisor’s passions, Carson said. If advisors have things that they are passionate about and can find clients that share that passion, they will find avenues to develop more business.

Matthew Halloran, a coach at Peak, said “the difference between a pro and a real pro is confidence.”

“Intention and expectation is everything,” he said.

Halloran said he works to solicit the compliment, which helps to engage a possible referral. Then, by asking a lot of open-ended questions an advisor can get information out of clients that can help generate referrals.