Do You Know How to Ask for Referrals?

Do you deliver on time?  Do you give your clients exactly what they want?  Do you provide an exceptional experience?

Photo courtesy of DesertCelt (CC)

Photo courtesy of DesertCelt (CC)

If you can give a resounding “YES!” to each of these then you can ask for and receive client referrals. Asking for referrals is an incredibly powerful way to generate new business but is a strategy that is ignored, probably in large part because it feels uncomfortable to ask for help.

The art of asking for referrals is in approaching the people that already think highly of you. You have demonstrated your skills to them in the past and they trust you. Those people want to help you thereby removing any discomfort on either side.

Don’t ask anyone that didn’t have a stellar experience with you. It may not be your fault that they didn’t receive great service but don’t ask them anyway. Unless you were able to blow them away by making a less than ideal situation really, really good you cannot expect them to be your advocate.

Photo courtesy of Porsche Brosseau (CC)

Photo courtesy of Porsche Brosseau (CC)

Why do the people you have wow’d want to introduce you to others?   We are all wired to want to assist those who got us what we wanted and who acted on our behalf. As referrers, we are rewarded with the feeling of being helpful to not just one but two people. We are able to use our knowledge to benefit others.

I recently referred my real estate agent to a friend. Cathy gets you what you want. The house you want in the neighborhood you desire and she delivers exceptional service. She makes you feel safe throughout the process of buying or selling a house so I know she will take care of my friend.

How do you refer someone?   We often think we are referring someone when what we are actually doing is casually mentioning them. Imagine you are thinking about buying a new home. How do you feel when you hear “Oh you should use Cathy, she’s great”? It’s vague and doesn’t tell me what I can expect.

The science behind a great introduction is to be specific. How much more confident are you when you are told, “I want to give you Cathy’s number (specific action). There’s no way we would have found the house we did in this neighborhood without her (specific outcome).

The whole deal almost fell apart when the sellers decided they weren’t going to fix the roof but she went to bat for us (specific logic for referral). She got us what we wanted (positive emotional sharing).” There’s a huge gap between the two despite the fact that both are referrals.

Photo courtesy of Alvaro Canivell (CC)

Photo courtesy of Alvaro Canivell (CC)

Think about how you’d like to be presented to others and train your referrer to be specific. I have had success asking “Do you mind telling them about the time you and I launched the xyz marketing campaign in three weeks? That might be relevant to them since they are trying to get their project up and running quickly.”

When is the best time to give a referral?   It is impossible to predict when the opportunity to refer someone will occur. For this reason, your referrers must be trained and ready to refer you at any time. That sounds odd, doesn’t it?

Nevertheless, it is true. Sticking with our scenario, if you are a realtor for example, the time to get referred or introduced is anytime someone mentions they are in the market to buy or sell a house. If you have trained those that know you and love your service they will recognize the opportunity when it occurs, remember specifically what you do well, and tell your story.

Close the referral loop   Ask your referrers to let you know when they’ve referred you so that you can follow up with their contact. This demonstrates that you are committed to providing exceptional service from beginning to end.  It also ensures you are the ahead of any competition.

Referrals are the lifeblood of all small businesses. They drastically reduce the headaches and expense of generating new leads which is one of the toughest nuts to crack. Even if it feels uncomfortable at first, start asking for referrals now!

Got a great referral story?  Please share below!



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