By Jeff Riddle
Client or customer referrals are one of the most effective ways to grow your business.
But many service professionals believe referrals are a random occurrence, only generated by great service.
A recent study in the financial services sector determined 87 percent of clients are willing to recommend their financial service providers, but only 11 percent of them are actually being asked to do so.
While delivering great service is half the equation, the other half is asking your satisfied clients for referrals.
Here are five steps to help you ask for referrals.
Step 1: Adjust Your Mindset
Take a moment to think about the last time you referred a friend to your favorite restaurant. Why did you refer them? I’ll bet you did it because you knew they would enjoy going to the restaurant.
People are naturally motivated to refer valuable businesses to their friends and associates, for the benefit of those people.
It’s not about helping you and your business. This is important to remember, because when you’re asking for referrals, you’re not asking to get “hooked up.” Instead, you’re empowering your satisfied clients to help their friends and associates, by recommending the value you offer.
Step 2: Identify Moments of Truth
Not every client interaction is ripe for asking. Identify moments of truth when the value you offer is most present in your client interactions.
This may be after launching a successful marketing campaign, a lucrative PR launch, or when your client tells you how grateful they are for your services.
Step 3: Ask an Open-Ended Question
Most professionals asking for referrals use the following language “Do you know anyone who might benefit from our service?” The problem with this question is that there are only two answers – yes or no.
Instead, use an open-ended question to give your clients the mental space to identify friends and associates they know would benefit from working with you.
“I’m so glad you’re getting so much value from our work together. Who do you know who might benefit from <insert your value prop>?”
Step 4: Listen
Once you ask the open ended question, your clients may take a second to think about their answer. Wait and listen until they have some ideas. Quietly jot down a list of everyone they mention, and remain quiet until they let you know they’re done.
Step 5: Control the Process
Your clients might be excited to refer in the moment, but it won’t be a top priority tomorrow when they’re waist deep in the drudgery of life.
Agree upon a specific date by asking “when do you think you can make these referrals?”
You may also suggest writing an email introduction template to make the process easier. This will not only speed things up, it also allows you to control the message.
Asking is a game changer. You’re sitting on a goldmine of satisfied clients who want to share your business with their communities. Don’t let referrals be happenstance.
Help your clients help their friends by asking for referrals… and you will benefit in the process.