Bill Cates is an internationally recognized client-acquisition expert, author, and speaker who motivates others to take action with proven strategies.
A successful entrepreneur, Bill started and sold two book publishing companies. Turning his attention to help other businesses grow, Bill has written four best-selling books: Get More Referrals Now, Don’t Keep Me a Secret, Beyond Referrals and Radical Relevance.
Bill has delivered his business-growth message to over 300,000 professionals, small business owners, and salespeople across 5 continents; helping them increase revenue without increasing their
Bill Cates’ client-acquisition system has been featured in such publications as Success Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Selling Power, the Huffington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. And his own business success has been featured in Money Magazine.
Bill was inducted into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame in 2010 (182 living members worldwide). So you can expect an engaging and interactive program with relevant, business-growth content, high energy, and a little bit of fun.
- Believe in your value
- Look at the lifetime value of your clients and all the referrals they can facilitate
- Engaged clients give way more referrals than happy clients
Connect With Bill:
[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]
Umar Hameed 0:06
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone. This is Umar Hameed, your host and welcome to the No Limit Selling Podcast, where industry leaders share their tips, strategies and advice on how to make you better, stronger, faster, get ready for another episode.
Umar Hameed 0:36
Today I have the distinct pleasure of sitting down with Bill Cates, an old friend and the President of Referral Coach International, and something new Cates Academy. Welcome to the program, Bill.
Bill Cates 0:47
Thank you, Mr. Appreciate it.
Umar Hameed 0:48
So we met a gazillion years ago when a mutual friend Dr. Wolf, Frankie said, Bill, would you please meet with Umar and you were generous enough to take me out for lunch and sit down and give me some guidance way back when. Thank you so much for doing that.
Bill Cates 1:03
You're welcome. How was lunch?
Umar Hameed 1:05
I can't remember the conversation. I don't remember the lunch.
Bill Cates 1:07
I don't either.
Umar Hameed 1:09
So what's amazing is asking for referrals can be the technically the easiest thing in the world.
Bill Cates 1:18
Umar Hameed 1:19
But most people don't do it.
Bill Cates 1:20
Umar Hameed 1:21
And people that do it. Most of them do it badly. And a few are gifted, and the few that are gifted can build a sales career that is significant. So why do you think it's so difficult for people to ask for referrals?
Bill Cates 1:37
Yeah, so it's easier to it's easy to do. It's easier not to do?
Umar Hameed 1:41
Bill Cates 1:42
Well, there's all kinds of head trash that goes on. A few things. Some people are afraid of putting the client on the spot, they have a relationship, they don't want to make that person feel uncomfortable. They don't want to look needy on the other spectrum. They look on successful needy, like what business down. That's, that's why you're asking. And it really comes down to a couple of things. And I call it having a referral mindset.
Umar Hameed 2:08
Bill Cates 2:09
So first of all, understanding the lifetime value of a client or customers, not just the business you can do with them over that lifetime. It's also who they can introduce you to over lifetimes
Umar Hameed 2:20
Which could be way more significant.
Bill Cates 2:21
Could be way more. Yeah, any any Alliance advocate center of influence can be worth a whole lot more than any one client, depending on the nature of your business. And you know, a lot of people just see it as risky, which is a limiting belief. And we'll go through some of the methodology today and where they can see it doesn't have to be risky. It can be just a normal conversation you had with people. And it comes from a place of believing in your value. First of all, you know, I asked folks, do you believe your value is worth sharing? And they go? Well, I think it is, well, are you getting unsolicited referrals? Well, yeah, I get a few. Okay, well, obviously, some people think it's worth sharing.
Umar Hameed 2:59
Bill Cates 3:00
And that's what it's about. It's it's about paying it forward. Help me Help others.
Umar Hameed 3:04
And so let's come backtrack there a little bit. I would suspect if we asked people, you know, do you know your value? They'd be a certain percentage that would say no, but a vast majority would say yes.
Bill Cates 3:18
Umar Hameed 3:19
And at the same time, they either wouldn't believe the value that they're professing sometimes. And then and other times they see themselves have a lower value compared to their peers, or their bosses, you know, Jane is a rock star if she just let herself XYZ. So what do you think there is that disconnect from reality? Like, why do we see ourselves differently?
Bill Cates 3:43
Oh, it's hard to know. I mean, there's all kinds of things going on, you know, it's like, some of the messages we get growing up about sales, right? You know, when you're young, the phone rings, and you know, your mother or father picks it up, and the conversation lasts about, you know, five seconds. And who is that daddy? Oh, just the salesperson, you know. So we had all all kinds of messages around that. You know, a lot of people believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness.
Umar Hameed 4:10
When I say exact opposite.
Bill Cates 4:11
Any psychologist will tell you that it's a sign of high ego strength. And like I said before, this is we're asking for help to help others. So I don't dwell too much on the cause, of the barrier. Sometimes that can be very helpful, of course, getting perspective on that. I just, I try to focus on how can we remove it? What can we do to make it easy and and so sometimes, I found that sometimes showing people how to do it, sometimes giving them the words that they can say.
Umar Hameed 4:41
Helps a lot.
Bill Cates 4:42
Oh it helps a whole lot. It opens up the possibility they go, Oh, I didn't realize I could say it that way." For instance.
Umar Hameed 4:49
Absolutely. And I think that's part of the I was listening to somebody that was a groupie of one of these superstar basketball players. They were at some kind of camp. The guy said, you know Could I watch you do a workout because camp starts around about six in the morning. And so you figure, you know, five o'clock get there and we'll be all set ready to go. He got there at four o'clock is there was supposed to start working out at 430. But he got there before to beat the superstar. He says he was already in there doing stuff. And he says all he was doing was just the basic stuff. This is why you doing basic stuff? Or the answer is, that's why I'm a superstar is because that, and that's what you teach people is, hey, here is the the system that's proven predictable. If you do this, you will grow your business.
Bill Cates 5:36
It's true. It's not rocket science, it's just there was a little book put out a long time ago, mostly in the insurance industry by a gentleman by the name of Albert Gray. And he says, "The successful people are people who will just do what the less successful people aren't willing to do". And he says, "Have you made the unconscious decision to focus on pleasurable methods rather than pleasurable results". And so when you're focused on the activity, and whether it feels comfortable, versus focused on the result you're trying to achieve? That's a big shift in perspective, and quite often, slowly, you will do what maybe feels uncomfortable now, but in a little bit of doing it, it won't feel uncomfortable at all.
Umar Hameed 6:20
So let me ask you, do you remember where you were when you got to that section in the book?
Bill Cates 6:24
Of oh, of Albert Gray? Yeah, well, the book is so small. It's like about it's a pamphlet, almost.
Umar Hameed 6:33
Brilliant. Condensed down.
Bill Cates 6:35
It was yeah, it was the it's called the Common Denominator Of Success.
Umar Hameed 6:40
Do you still have it by any chance?
Bill Cates 6:41
I don't know. That's a good question.
Umar Hameed 6:44
I'll look for it online, see if it's there.
Bill Cates 6:45
Or you can probably find it. And you may find someone, if you just look and Google that and you'll probably find a PDF of it somewhere because it was written like in the, you know, in the 20s, I'm sure the copyrights have expired and all that stuff. So.
Umar Hameed 6:59
So, Bill, why don't you walk us through your program? Like what are the things that people need to consider? And what's the process of getting referrals?
Bill Cates 7:09
Sure. So we've kind of covered the first part, whenever I do a workshop or a seminar, I always start with the mindset because before we get to the strategies and tactics, if you don't have the right way of thinking, it won't even know absolutely, will matter. So, think of it really almost as a wheel, if you will. Because it actually creates a perpetual flow. The first and we can go deep in each one. The first one is engagement, Client Engagement, that's about being referable. And generating referrals without asking and, and becoming more referable. The second one is Leverage. So that's promoting introductions, referrals, asking for introductions, and then connection, and getting connected getting introduced. And so when you create engagement, and become more referable, and then you leverage that for some introductions, and then so the first part of the wheel is Engagement, and that's all about being more referable, becoming super referable. So you get referrals without even asking. Then the second is Leverage. It's promoting introductions, asking for introductions in a way that's not pushy, that's appropriate. And then connection me we got to get introduced these days referrals, you know, the referred lead, called George use my name, they're pretty worthless. Because George doesn't pick up his phone, he's wondering why a friend gave his name out. So we got to get introduced, we got to get connected. So what happens is you create engagement, you leverage it, you get connected with a new prospect, you create engagement. And then the circle just keeps going, and a leveraged connection, engagement, and it's a perpetual flow.
Umar Hameed 8:50
So let's get back to engagement. So walk me through an example of one of your students where they started doing this and how they got engagement.
Bill Cates 9:00
Sure. So there's three parts to to the client journey, or the customer journey. It's what I call the the client and the prospect experience. They're not yet a client or customer,
Umar Hameed 9:11
Bill Cates 9:11
But there's that courtship of determining is it a match, etc. Then there's the the onboarding the new client, or new customer experience, how you onboard them into your world, and give them kind of a wow, experience. And then there's the ongoing experience that you provide over a long period of time. So I learned from actually one of my clients a long time ago, a guy named Mitch about the different things that he did to create the sense of engagement early on in the the new prospect experience. And there's a couple of things he did that have just stuck with me and become part of my system. So much that I've teaches I've learned by teaching this to others, right. And first of all, he talks about expectations in relationship even before the relationship is confirmed. He said, "You know, let's imagine that we've been working together on this project or whatever relates to the product for a year, how will you know we've been successful? What's your measure of our success working together? Or if you could build a perfect financial advisor, what would be those the attributes of that person?" So it's talking about expectations, and what that does, it creates a lot of trust. It's a trust building conversation. And that's what we're trying to do quickly in the new relationship.
Bill Cates 10:30
Another thing he used to do, and you know, people been talking a lot about this lately, but I learned this from Mitch shocks over 20 years ago, is his client focused Why? Why he believes in his value and sharing that with prospects even before he finds that just by talking about who he is, and what drives him. And what motivates him to bring his value helps him acquire more clients, because then he becomes more real to them. And that creates engagement. And one study that was done out of the Canada, this woman named Julie, a little child has she discovered that there's a low correlation between client satisfaction and the giving of referrals in this study, satisfied clients very loyal, but only about 20% gave referrals. But 98% of engaged clients provided referrals in the preceding 12 years, 12 months. So what's an engaged client or engaged customer or an engaged prospect is some someone who connects with your value, meaning they like the things you teach, they liked the questions you asked, they like your response of service, all the value oriented aspects of what you do. But they've also connected with you as a person.
Umar Hameed 11:49
Is that relationships always has been,
Bill Cates 11:51
It always is. And that's where that why comes into play, where they get a sense of who you are as an individual. And so what we're trying to do all along these stages, is not just secure the sale or the new client, which is good if it's a good match, but we're also trying to become more referable in the process, and create this sense of engagement sooner in a new relationship. So we don't have to wait a long time to make it happen. So.
Umar Hameed 12:16
Brilliant. So what's the next step? So you've got engagement.
Bill Cates 12:20
Yeah, we've got engagement. And the next step would be Leverage. And there's two parts to Leverage. One is promoting referrals or introductions and let me make a distinction real quick. You're hearing me use the word referrals and introductions kind of interchangeably?
Umar Hameed 12:35
Right? What's the distinction?
Bill Cates 12:36
Yeah, so a referral is, as I mentioned before, it's kind of a referral, he called George use my name, right? George doesn't answer his phone doesn't work as well as it used to. So what we need today is to get introduced, connected, it could be in person, it could be with an email, I call it electronic handshake. If you do any kind of client appreciation events, or educational events, it could be there. So there's a lot of ways to make that the introduction. But if we don't make that happen, then odds are it's going to fall through the cracks, right. And so for anybody listening, when you're with a client, when you're with a prospect, when you're with an advocate a center of influence, anyone who has the ability to send people your way, use the word introductions, make sure that that's the word you use, because that's what you want.
Umar Hameed 13:27
Brilliant. And that makes perfect sense. Because it also takes the. So here's what I understand. When someone says, use my name, when you call Betty, Betty doesn't know me, person's name I'm about to mention might be out of context, like Bill who for a moment. And there's just a whole bunch of barriers. So when there's an introduction, it kind of lays out the the relationships and the reason why Hey, Bill, you're doing this Umar is doing this, I thought it would be a good conversation to have.
Bill Cates 13:58
Umar Hameed 13:59
So that expectations that you talked about earlier in the engagement phase kind of comes to play again, because you're setting the expectations for where this relationship might go.
Bill Cates 14:10
Right, and I'll tell you, one of the best ways to promote introductions is to is to manage the expectations around that. So one of the things we found is one reason why a lot of folks don't give referrals is they could be they're concerned about confidentiality, depending on the nature of the work.
Umar Hameed 14:28
Bill Cates 14:29
And they're definitely concerned about what is it going to look like? How are you going to reach out to my friend, it's an unknown and so therefore, it could be perceived as a risk. And so one of the ways to promote introductions without really asking is to manage that expectation. So I can give it to you now give you the verbiage.
Umar Hameed 14:48
Right? Oh, please.
Bill Cates 14:49
Yeah, so to be you know, very granular here. It's like this is "Umar you know, something I want to run by real quick. Many of our clients like to introduce to work we do to others. And I just thought that opportunity Ever presented itself to you, it'd be good for you to have a sense of how we'd handle it what it would look like. So you'd feel comfortable. First of all, the work we do is completely confidential. They're not going to learn about your situation for me and vice versa,"
Umar Hameed 15:10
Setting expectations love it.
Bill Cates 15:11
Exactly. confidentiality. "And the other is, and you know, we handle this sort of thing with great care, meaning, I'm not just going to call someone from out of the blue and surprise them and make them wonder why didn't you market My name out there? This guy, right? Nobody likes to get that kind of call anymore. I like to work through introductions. So if you identify 123, whatever number of people that you think should be aware of what I do, we'll discuss it we'll talk about what's the best way for you to introduce me to them. So you feel comfortable, they feel comfortable. And maybe we at least pique their interest in hearing for maybe we'll make sure everybody's comfortable along the way. How's that sound?" You say "that sounds fine." So now I haven't really asked for introductions. But I've it's a grammar, it's a great way to promote it. It's a great way to get it into the conversation. Sometimes that turns into introductions referrals on the spot, sometimes you say "Great, thank you, I appreciate it."
Umar Hameed 16:00
And just a byproduct of them. The way you laid it out, it shows that you care about me.
Bill Cates 16:06
Umar Hameed 16:07
And it strengthens our relationship, whether an introduction happens or not, but the caring does come through.
Bill Cates 16:12
Yeah, you know, we're gonna handle this with care, we're going to make sure that you feel comfortable that they feel comfortable. So we manage that expectation of what would it look like if I thought of someone? And so next time you think of someone you realize it's a safe thing to do.
Umar Hameed 16:27
So if people did this in their marriages, half of marriages would still be married.
Bill Cates 16:32
Well, yeah, that's, that's, that's another another issue. But you're right. I mean, creating expectations, discussing it. So one of the killers of relationships just to go down that path for a second, this is true in business or personal. is an unexpressed expectation that goes unmet. Right, someone has an expectation of how we're going to be at this party we go to or what the business relation is going to look like, and never gets expressed. And it goes on met, and then people are disappointed.
Umar Hameed 17:05
Definitely. So as we people bring you in to train them, and they've been doing it for a long time.
Bill Cates 17:13
25 years, I've been doing this.
Umar Hameed 17:14
So let me tell you what you told me all those years ago when we met, and this is when you became my hero. It was like, correct me if I'm wrong, it went something like this. Umar had a sales training business that was you know, doing okay. And then what I decided to do was to double niche. So what I was going to do is just teach referrals, not to the universe, but to people in the financial services industry. And that gave me the ability to have key targets. And one of my targets was the million dollar Roundtable. And I got to speak at that event, year one. So just knowing who you're going after, and being relevant to them is critical.
Bill Cates 17:52
Oh, yeah, without question. I mean, you're you're alluding actually, to the book that I'm writing now, that we'll have a chance to talk about later. But it's, it's all about getting as narrow and focused and targeted as you possibly can. And in today's world to stand out. And to look a little different and to grab someone's attention. How you talk about what you do has to be more relevant to them has to be more compelling to them. And the problem that most business owners make, and a lot of sales people make is in their effort to make the 10th a little bigger and encompass more people,
Umar Hameed 18:29
They touch no one,
Bill Cates 18:30
Their messaging gets weaker. Exactly right. And so being very targeted, is very important. And so that, the way I talk about is imagine an archery target, right. And that's the industry you're going after, or maybe it could be a big business with multiple opportunities, whatever that looks like. And then the bullseye is your right fit client or right fit customer, the person you were meant to serve. And it was meant meant to be served by you. And the more you can define that and get clear on that, the more you can bring that into your world. Brilliant.
Umar Hameed 19:04
And the reason I kind of did that kind of foundational piece is that you've been teaching referrals for a very long time seeing you present one of the best speakers out there. So you get a lot of clients. So tell me about an engagement with a client. Don't say the name, okay. But we you laid out the groundwork, and their execution of it fell short, like, what are the things people need to look for, to you know, really leverage what you're teaching them.
Bill Cates 19:30
So a couple we can do it on two levels, we can do on a level of a business where I've gone into a business that has a sales force, yes, force, and usually where that will fall short is in the follow up. In other words, the managers don't follow up afterwards. It's the flavor of the month. It's something that they throw a little time and money at. You know, from my perspective, training in the system, I provide referrals slash introductions, is not something you did. It's something You do, right? Just like any other training, look at the military Look at his ongoing and athletes and all of that, right. So it is ongoing. But the problem is a lot of managers weren't particularly good at referrals themselves. And so little covert contract gets created. It's like, I wasn't particularly good at this. So I can't really hold you accountable or coach you want something I wasn't good at.
Umar Hameed 20:22
And if I can correct you there, sure. It is not that I wasn't good at it, it doesn't work. That well is oftentimes the mindset,
Umar Hameed 20:30
Umar Hameed 20:30
I'm not gonna force you to do something that doesn't work.
Bill Cates 20:32
It didn't work for me. Exactly. And so they teach what they know. Yeah. And whether, you know, so I do remember a client, who hired me, who in his company, when he was in sales, he he was cold calling, that's all he was doing. He did it. And, and then he became the manager. So he started teaching what he knew, which was cold calling, but he hated it. And everybody he taught hated it. And he finally this light bulb went off. And it's like, why am I teaching something that everybody hates doing. And that's when he made a decision to create a referral culture within his business, which is what I helped him do. So that now they're doing things they like to do. And it's all relationship based. And it's not just all these bad leads, and cold calls, and all this sort of stuff. So I put some things in place, I put some, some video training and reinforcement tools in place to kind of compensate for if a client isn't going to reinforce it as well as they could at least I put some things in place.
Umar Hameed 21:35
Bill Cates 21:35
They'll keep that message going. So that's on the level of a business on the level of an individual. When I have clients that I coach, for instance, it's it's the biggest place where it falls down is they're just not willing to get uncomfortable enough. And it could be to practice it. It could be to try it with clients who love them, which is it's going to be easy. And they could bumble through it, and the client loves them. And it doesn't matter. But it's just it's just the unwillingness to do what it takes to practice and to do the actions. And so now when I take on folks, I say, look, you know, I'm not going to be a badass, but I am going to ask you to do some things that may feel a little uncomfortable initially. Are you okay with that? I want to get that upfront agreement. That doesn't always help. But most the time
Umar Hameed 22:23
Yeah. You're talking about like practicing. I'm not a jazz guy. But there was this jazz great being interviewed. Somebody who's like 86 years old, the young fellow that was interviewing him was saying, basically, now you know, you, you probably don't even have to like practice, because this actually is my favorite four hours of the day. Hmm. So even when you're masterful, to stay there, and the joy of it comes from that, just practicing and rehearsing. And I guess it's the mindset that you bring to that activity.
Bill Cates 22:56
It all starts with that it all starts with your beliefs and your assumptions. And, and I mean, I used to be a professional musician, and what I liked about practice, is that I would see myself get better incrementally.
Umar Hameed 23:08
Bill Cates 23:08
Small increments. But that's what I enjoyed about it. And then I then I would, you know, take that and then bring it to a performance. And, you know, it's kind of joyful.
Umar Hameed 23:18
Bill, if people want to get a hold of you, what's the best way to do that?
Bill Cates 23:21
A couple things. First of all, we have a free guide that that your folks can go get.
Umar Hameed 23:27
And I'm going to put a link to that in the show notes. So they can click on it right away. But tell us what it is.
Bill Cates 23:31
So that's a multiplyyourbestclients.com, multiplyyourbestclients.com and who doesn't want to do that?
Umar Hameed 23:31
Bill Cates 23:31
And so it's about not just multiplying all your clients multiplying your best client.
Umar Hameed 23:43
Bill Cates 23:44
And then we have a great page on our website. It's referralcoach.com/resources, all lowercase referralcoach.com/resources and a lot of free stuff, a lot of you know, just a whole explanation of what we do. And people can tap into a lot of you guys and audio recordings and things there.
Umar Hameed 24:02
Keep in mind, this is a G rated program. What's got you inspired? What's got you turned on? Right? What are you studying right now that really.
Bill Cates 24:12
I'm playing a lot more golf this year.
Umar Hameed 24:14
Bill Cates 24:14
Which is good because I vowed to do that. In fact, I'm taking almost every Friday off this summer, and in the fall and you know, my best year financially ever a couple years ago. I did three day weekends, almost the entire year.
Umar Hameed 24:32
Let me give you a high five.
Bill Cates 24:33
Thank you. So that's that's one thing that I'm that definitely turns me on. And now sometimes my weekend shifts so I'm writing a new book, which also turns me on. And so this past Sunday, I was a book writing day. So I shifted my weekend and had Friday off. I ride psycho bicycles in the morning and then I play golf. But so the book that I'm writing, called Radical Relevance, and it's all about how we talk about value in a way that's going to be cut through the noise and when more ideal clients and so I'm very enthusiastic about that. And probably if I could make it happen and I could earn the level of income I'm earning now just to writing, I would probably do that because I love taking ideas and putting them through my synthesize and then to stay out in a way that might be helpful for people.
Umar Hameed 25:24
Bill Cates 25:24
It's a fun creative process that that does good for me and for others.
Umar Hameed 25:30
Bill, thanks so much for sitting down with me and I'm looking forward to our next podcast we'll do when the new books coming out.
Bill Cates 25:35
Sounds good Umar, appreciate it.
Umar Hameed 25:42
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there that's going to teach you some insights from the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and that is the fastest way to get better results.