5 Tips on How and When to Ask for Referrals

Referral MarketingSmall business owners and sales professionals do not regularly ask for referrals. I read recently that about 70% of sales people don’t ask for referrals. They don’t even approach the subject with their clients.

Why? Many are afraid of being rejected. Some falsely believe that they will make their clients feel uncomfortable. Others think asking makes them look like they’re begging for business.  And far too many just plain forget to ask.

If you don’t ask for referrals regularly don’t be surprised if you are not getting enough to make a dramatic impact on your business.So how and when should you ask for referrals? Here are 5 tips that you can implement immediately.

1. Identify your referral sources.

Your best referral source should be your current or past clients. But don’t forget to include your prospects and centers of influence as your referral sources.

2. Talk to your clients about the value they get from you.  Author and referral coach Bill Cates calls it the “Value Discussion”. Basically you want to have a conversation with your clients to make sure that they recognize and appreciate the value they get from using your services. You need to do this first before youask anyone for referrals. Cates recommends having this discussion almost every time you meet with your clients.

3. Talk to your referral sources about who makes a good referral for you.

One of the reasons your referrals may tend to be of poor quality is because you probably didn’t have a discussion with your referral sources about your ideal referral. You must define your ideal referral for your referral sources if you want to get quality referrals. 

4. Pay attention during casual conversations for opportunities to ask for referrals.

Whenever someone tells you they are happy with your product or service or give you any kind of positive feedback, that’s an opportunity to ask for referrals. For example if a client tells you “I really appreciate your fast service”. Your response could be something like: I’m pleased you appreciate the value of doing business with me, who else do you know would benefit from my fast service?”

5. Be direct and confident when asking for referrals.
Don’t ask in a “wimpy way like: “If you know of anyone I can help tell them about me.” This is better than not asking at all, but it doesn’t put you in the best position to get referrals. Instead try something like this: Who among your co-workers or family members is thinking about getter a bigger home?” When you ask for referrals, ask in a way that the answer has to be the name of a specific person or business. And don’t apologize for asking.

Remember if you want to get a steady flow of referrals you must have a strong commitment to serving your clients beyond their exceptions, beyond your industry norms. You need to adapt a referral mind-set.


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