Do You Want Referrals or Introductions?

At our Referral Training Camp for Financial Professionals, we talk about the distinction between a referral, recommendation, and an introduction – and which is the more effective word to use. I used to believe that this was merely a semantic argument that wasn’t worth much time. However, things have changed.

While getting our clients to recommend us to others is not a bad thing, and getting them to tell us about people we should call is good as well, what we really want – especially in this Do-Not-Call era – is introductions. We want our clients to introduce us to others in such a way that these prospects either call us or are interested in taking our call.

I think of referrals as a “for internal use only” word. We use the word freely during the program. However, when talking with our clients, we should use the word introductions. Talk to your clients using the word that best represents what you want. If you want introductions, use that word.

Here’s a simple example. I know many advisors who put the following statement on the back of their business cards or on an engraved piece on their desk with these words:

“The greatest compliment a client can give to me is a referral to someone else they think can benefit from the work I do.”

It’s time to up that tried and true statement to:

“The finest compliment my client can give to me is the introduction to someone they care about who should know about the important work I do.”

Of course, there are a million variations to this concept. But if you want “introductions” start using that word.


Bill Cates, CSP, CPAE, is widely recognized as the financial services foremost expert in how to build a thriving referral-based business. His books, Get More Referrals Now! and Don’t Keep Me a Secret! have revolutionized the way financial professionals are acquiring more and better clients through referrals. And his latest book, Beyond Referrals, is a groundbreaking next step in client acquisition strategies. Bill is the president of Referral Coach International and the creator of The Referral Advantage Program™ and The Referral Champions System™. Bills’ client-acquisition system has been featured in such publications as Success Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Selling Power, the Huffington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Bill has spoken at the prestigious Million Dollar Round Table 6 times, including the main platform in the US, Korea, Malaysia, Australia, and India. Thousands of financial professionals are using Bill’s Referral Advantage Marketing System™ to build their businesses with quality referrals and personal introductions.