Many salespeople constantly ask for referrals but receive few of them, even from customers who are very satisfied. Or they receive unqualified referrals that end up wasting their time. The problem is that these salespeople haven’t learned that there is a structured process needed to ask for, and actual receive the best referrals.
Once you know your clients have recognized the value you bring to them, it’s time to ask for referrals. There are three important steps to follow when asking for referrals.
1. Treat the Request With Importance
How you make your requests to others determines how referrals come back to you.
- Make sure you leave enough time to introduce the conversation.
- Plan your appointments carefully.
- Watch the time.
- Create an agenda to help you manage the time.
- Create a special meeting or lunch just for referrals.
Make sure you request your referral with the importance it deserves. You can begin by saying something like:
“Bob, I have an important question to ask you.”
2. Get Permission to Brainstorm
I’ve found that when you get permission to talk about referrals, it reduces the resistance. Also, you want this to be an open give-and-take conversation. Create a conversation around referrals that allows you to contribute to the discussion and help qualify prospects. Start your conversation with:
“I was hoping we could brainstorm for a few minutes on who else you care about who might benefit from our process.” (or similar language)
When you get permission to “brainstorm” or “explore,” you can participate in the referral process.
I received a letter from Andrew Monsour, a financial professional in Virginia, testifying to the effectiveness of this technique. Andrew wrote, “Your seminar at our office was outstanding. One of your ideas is already making me a ton of money. Once I ask my clients to join me in brainstorming whom we can help, it’s amazing how they open up and participate in the referral process. My referrals have doubled through this one word. Thank you.”
Get permission to explore or brainstorm who you and your client can help together.
3. Suggest Names And Categories
Actively participate in the referral discussion. It is important to communicate to your clients the type of referral that you are looking for. Help them visualize people they know.
You can work from several areas here such as:
- People they’ve mentioned earlier in the meeting or previous meetings
- Groups of people they’ve spoken about — personal and professional
- A “hit list” of people you think they might know — personal and professional
- A “prospecting profile” — a profile you create based on your ideal client
- Centers of influence — CPAs, attorneys and many other people your clients can introduce you to, who can send you quality clients
An example of what to say when actively participating in the referral discussion might be:
“I know you’re very active in your industry association; perhaps we can start there. Picture those folks for a second. Who would you feel comfortable getting me in front of on a favorable basis?”
It’s never enough to just say to your satisfied clients: “If you know of anyone who would benefit from my services . . . “ You need to select the right moment when you can engage the current client or associate in a deeper conversation and fully involve them in helping you secure new business.
Bill Cates is an internationally recognized client-acquisition expert, author, and speaker focusing on the proven relationship marketing strategies. A successful entrepreneur, Bill started and sold two 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.
Email Bill at BillCates@ReferralCoach.com or call 301.497.2200