“Who do you know?”
A question many professionals forget to ask during the sales cycle. Sometimes it’s because they don’t remember to do it and sometimes its because they don’t feel comfortable asking, most often it is because they have not made asking for a referral a habit. A referral from a friend or business associate is a powerful way to introduce yourself to a prospective customer.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a WomanCertified™ Seminar presented by Delia Passi, President of Medelia Communications and the founder of the Woman Certified™ program. To say it was wonderful would be an understatement. For many reasons, two of which were getting certified and meeting other business owners and professionals who also had the desire to do so.
During her program, Delia talked about asking for referrals and raised the question of how many of us ask for the referral DURING the sales process. A few of us raised our hands. Then she asked “how many of you ask for referrals once the transaction was complete?” And more hands were raised. There were, however about a third of the room who did not make it a habit. I thought, WOW, they are really missing out on a huge chunk of business. After all, my business is built on referrals and I learned how important it was to ask my current customers “who they know who could use my products, who has a special event coming up, anyone they know getting married that I should contact?” And so forth. All good questions to ask.
I have found that a number of professionals will thank clients for referrals once they receive them, and even reward them. I do that too. In fact, in my retail florist, whenever someone sends us a new customer, we send them Daisy Dollars. These Daisy Dollars™ can be accumulated and used toward a purchase. I designed the Daisy Dollars Rewards™ after many of the point systems merchants use to get their clients to spend more money with them.
The best way to encourage this type of referral to ASK for it!
Of course, the best times to ask for referrals are after you’ve finalized a sale with a new client, when a potential client has decided not to use your services, but clearly respects what you have to offer, when you follow-up with a satisfied customer several weeks or a month after the sale, and anytime you talk with someone who might know another in need of your services.
There’s no time like the present
When you first interact with a potential client (or they contact you) if you don’t already know the answer, ask how they heard about you. Stress that your business is built on referrals and you want to be sure and thank the person who made the introduction. Sharing this plants the seed in the new client’s mind for a referral down the line.
Ask for the referral during the buying process. Once you have established trust with the client, it is appropriate to ask for a referral. Not all prospects will turn into clients. They may not need your product or service right now, but they know someone who does. In fact, the prospect may feel bad that he cannot buy from you right now, but he knows someone who could use your service. This is a perfect time to ask.
If you do ask a new client for a referral right away, and she hesitates or feels awkward, make it easy on her by asking her for a commitment to refer someone in her circle at a later date. This will take pressure off her to act now, when she has not had time to think about it. Be sure you follow up on the commitment by calling her at a later date. When you do follow up, make sure you reinforce the positive experience they had dealing with you as your remind them of their commitment to give you a referral(s). You can do this by saying something like: “Jane, it has been a pleasure serving you, and I look forward to working with you again in the future. By the way, when speaking to your friends about (the experience, my products, my service….) be sure and ask them to let me know that they were referred by you. I want to give them the same great service you too have come to expect.”
It’s also okay to ask for multiple referrals. After someone gives you the name and contact information of one person, simply ask, “Do you know anyone else you could refer me to?” You will be amazed at how often someone will think of two or three additional referrals. If you don’t ask, you will never know. Sometimes that’s all a satisfied customer needs to jog her memory.
Use every meeting as your opportunity to ask for a referral. Make it a natural part of your conversation.
Make it a habit to ask for a referral the way you ask for the business! Doing so will make your business soar!
Heidi Richards Mooney
Copyright © 2008 RedHead Marketing