You’ve been there: being asked for a referral by a salesperson, and sometimes it’s uncomfortable. Despite the fact that several people immediately pop into your head, you don’t want to provide their names because it feels like you may be selling them out. You feel obligated to, however, because “this guy just did a great job that exceeded my expectations.”
But when you’re in business, you know that the best way to grow is through
referrals. They’re golden, and you need a lot of them. Read any book on entrepreneurism, and you’ll be told to always get a referral from everyone with whom you do business. You’ll be reminded to build relationships that make people receptive to giving them to you, and to ask everyone you can think of to provide you with one.
Well, good news. There are ways to do it without giving your clients the jitters, and it starts with
changing your own mindset.
Don’t Ask for a Favor—Do a Favor
Getting referrals can’t be about you. You have to make it about them. You’re not asking your prospects for a favor. That’s what makes you the supplicant, and it puts them on the defensive.
Instead, give them something. Create something of value that you can give to your client or that your client can give away. It might be a certain percentage off for the referring customer on his or her next service.
Hint: if you’re offering a referral bonus, make it time-sensitive so they don’t file it under “I really should do that sometime.” Give them a small window to act on your offer. As long as you’re giving something of value in order to get a referral, your clients will happily pass it along to a friend. People love to bear good news, so turn them into givers!
People will generally be willing to refer you to their friends if they’re genuinely happy with what you’ve done for them. Deliver what you promise. You can also add to your referability by giving them things of value, like sources they can share with their network, invitations to open houses or articles on industry trends—anything shareable.
You probably have certain demographics you’re looking to work with specifically. Tell your contacts what kind of lead you want, and you’ll never get a referral you can’t use.
Don’t Wait for Your Pipeline to Dry Up
You already know the concept of keeping your pipeline full. And if you’ve practiced it, you’ve probably seen firsthand that just at the moment you wonder where your next lead is coming from, one you started on months ago surfaces. Your sales will ebb and flow, but as long as you keep filling your pipeline—especially when business is booming—something is bound to flow out the other side.
Gratitude will get you everywhere. So many business people forget that last tiny detail. Make a phone call or send a handwritten note (yes, handwritten always means more), and thank people for their business.
This will create repeat customers, which is nothing more than people referring themselves back to you.