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Encourage passive referrals from existing clients
Encourage passive referrals from existing clients

Aug 02 2022

Encourage passive referrals from existing clients

Referrals are one of the most effective and efficient ways to build your client base. Sheila Tan, an MDRT member from Singapore, shares tips on how to successfully set yourself up for referrals from existing clients.

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Referrals are a powerful way to grow your practice. Referred prospects typically already start off with a good impression of you, since they were introduced by someone they trust. This makes it easier to build rapport with them and hence, shortening the time for nurturing a strong advisor-client relationship.  

Yet, this compelling way of getting new clients takes more than just being excellent at what you do. Sheila Tan, a 30-year MDRT member from Singapore, shares two key areas she focuses on to give her existing clients a strong reason to recommend her to others: nurturing close relationships and building credibility. 

Nurture close relationships 

Tan focuses on building strong relationships with her clients, particularly those who like, trust, and respect her. “There must be mutual respect, trust, and chemistry. I practice empathy in my interactions with customers and learn to listen attentively. I win their trust by being present and listening attentively to their concerns,” she adds.  

Client relationships take time to build, maintain, and nurture. But Tan believes that there is value in going the extra mile to foster these close relationships. From sharing life experiences to having meals together, she takes time to get to know her clients on a personal level. She shares, “I take an interest in their lives and hobbies besides talking about their financial plans. If they enjoy gardening like me,; I will bless them with my plants and herbs by repotting for them. I will also make trips to nursery with them especially during Christmas and Chinese New Year.” 

Here are some other ways Tan builds rapport with her clients: 

  • Send congratulatory messages or cards when clients receive a promotion or move on to new career opportunities. 
  • Invite them to webinars or seminars on topics that are relevant or of interest to them. 
  • Send year-end gifts like table calendars and diaries. Such items are typically more greatly appreciated by the older generations, as it is harder to get them nowadays.  

All these go into helping clients feel comfortable and appreciated, but Tan reiterates that the advisor-client relationship must go both ways to effectively set yourself up for referrals. She shares, “I practice giving as well as getting. It means asking “What can I do for you? How can I be helpful to you and your business? Who are your target clients? Who can I refer to you? I would share that, likewise, if they had benefitted from my service, who are some of their friends and family members that may also benefit from my service. I share that in our business, much time is spent on prospecting. Thus, if they can give me referrals, it would ensure success and continuity in servicing them. Ultimately, being a win-win for both of us.” 

Build credibility 

Tan emphasizes the importance of keeping your promises and delivering prompt client service whenever the need arises. For example, she keeps herself well-prepared to offer reliable support and advice should any of her clients be faced with a health crisis. “I keep a list of doctors who excel in their respective fields based on client’s feedback and recommend them to other clients in times of need. Many of my clients are impressed by this value-added service,” she shares. 

Furthermore, she also leverages her social media platforms to further bolster client’s trust in her and her capabilities: 

  • Share client testimonials regarding her service (with their assent). This helps to establish trust and increase customer satisfaction ratings by showcasing her satisfied clients to prospects.  
  • Share achievements and celebrate success by posting photos from overseas incentive trips or employee recognition events/awards organized by her company, while thanking her clients for their unwavering support. These serve as a testament to her stellar performance, which appeals to many clients as they like to be associated with successful financial advisors. 
  • Share “appreciation” gifts or meals given by her clients, especially after they had claimed successfully from their hospitalization plan. This shows how she values the close relationships she has with her clients. 

By putting her advice into practice, Tan shares a memorable experience with one of her long-term clients who were very appreciative of the payouts from her critical illness plan and hospital reimbursement. “She recommended me to her whole team at work. She also convinced her adult children to enhance their coverage with her instead of their friends as a token of appreciation for my service for two decades. I even had the privilege to handle the plans for her daughter-in-law and grandchildren! To top it off, I was invited to her 60th birthday celebration that was meant for family members and close friends only,” Tan said.  

A quote that resonates strongly with Tan is from Michelle Obama, “Success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”

Tan adds that even after being in the profession for so long, the precious relationships she has forged through her career still bring her much joy and satisfaction. At the same time, she has managed to keep herself as a preferred advisor for her existing clients, who have readily referred others to her.   


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