Do you have trouble getting internal support from people like trust officers and loan officers referring you? This is often a source of frustration for bank advisors.

In theory, everyone works together and uses a team approach to help the client. But in reality, people focus on the benchmarks used by their bosses to measure job performance.

If referring business to you isn't in the top three items in their job descriptions, they may well be preoccupied with other things. They probably won't directly say to you, "No, I am too busy to give you referrals," but they will gravitate that way simply because of the priorities they get from the top.

There are specific techniques to help you get more referrals in such cases. (These are part of Robert Cialdini's book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. And I've added my take on each one to help apply these concepts to your relationships with the trust officers at your banks.)

• The "liking" technique. People are apt to help you if they like you. That may seem like common sense, but consider the other side of the fence: The fact is they may not like you. And that can be understandable if you have not seemed interested in helping them in the past.

The remedies are also common sense. Make eye contact, smile and focus on something genuinely positive about the person.

Once you focus on the thing you genuinely like about someone, offer a compliment if you can do so sincerely. But don't overdo it. If your effort to get them to like you is not genuine, people will suss it out. (We can all tell when someone is fake.)

The next step needs to be low key-it entails asking an empowering question like "What's the best thing going on with you lately?" Get the person to focus on something positive. Then follow up with, "Can I ask your opinion, what do you think the best way for me to get more referrals is from within the bank?" And hopefully, you will get the answer you are looking for.

With a trust officer at your bank, watch for any type of memo or announcement on something they have accomplished. And when you run into them, offer a sincere compliment. Realize that if he does have a customer to refer, he can refer him or her to any of the bank's advisors and will likely choose someone he likes.

• The commitment and consistency technique. People have an inner desire to remain consistent and avoid contradiction. By getting people to give you small commitments consistently it is easier to get bigger commitments when you ask in the future.

One way to use this technique is to ask for information about some general area you work with once a week or so. After three to four weeks, once you have established a consistent pattern of asking for information and getting it, then ask for information to help you identify new people to meet and help.

This should be in the context of looking out for the client's and the bank's best interest - not just your own self-interest.

And with a trust officer, identify an area where they may have a specialty and you do not, such as credit or insurance analysis. When you are working on a case, call them and ask a question about something they can help you with, something small.

After a few weeks, ask them for help identifying and referring clients who have needs that you specialize in.

• The social proof technique. The cliché of "following the crowd" refers to people's nature to want to blend in with the group. Again, that's obvious, but it can be helpful if you look at it from a slightly different angle. To use the social proof technique, try to set the norms of the group, at least in small ways, that will then influence others.

For example, talk about other people at your bank who are team players. Discuss the referrals you are giving other people on the team. In a group meeting, showcase examples of internal referrals. When you ask for a referral, discuss other people who are also giving referrals among the team.

The more examples you can cite, the more internal pressure builds for the others to refer to you as well. Again, the context must be for the client's and bank's best interest. Otherwise, any of these techniques can blow up in your face if it appears you are only interested in enriching yourself.

With a trust officer, see if you can talk about other trust officers at your branch or another branch who refer clients to consultants just like you or better yet, who have referred to you directly.

• The reciprocity technique. In the simplest illustration, you need to give referrals before you ask for them in return. A trust officer wants referrals as well, so try to identify which of your clients you think could benefit from talking to him. Go the extra mile and introduce them personally.

• The authority technique. Have you ever seen a commercial in which an actor dressed in a white lab coat pretends to be a doctor and tries to get you to buy something? Why not just have a regular actor pitching you? These advertisers are counting on you listening to an authority figure.

From the time we are born we are conditioned to listen to parents, teachers and people in authority. Using this technique is easiest if you have a memo, an email or some type of direction from a senior leader at the bank telling people to refer business to each other. When asking someone for a referral, make sure the person knows the reason you are asking is because this senior leader wants everyone on the team to help each other by cross-referring customers.

And in the case of a trust officer, make sure the person in authority who is asking the team to cross-refer customers is someone who is either their boss or their boss's boss.

These techniques work and in order to find which ones work best for you, all you need to do is test them.

And remember, the context always needs to be client-focused, not self- focused.

Todd Colbeck is founder and principal of the Colbeck Coaching Group, a subsidiary of General Business Center Inc. He can be reached at

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Bank Investment Consultant content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access