When you think about referrals do you both cringe and twitter with excitement? Those may not seem like emotions that should or even could happen at the same time. You cringe because you hate thinking about having to ask for them, and you aren’t sure how to do it. You twitter with excitement because you know a good referral can turn into a new client fast.
Notice I used the word create in the title of this article instead of the word generate. I chose that word intentionally because I want you to change how you think about how you get referrals. You cringe at the thought of having to ask for referrals because it makes you feel like a beggar, and it makes you feel like you’re imposing on someone else. You can get the referrals you want without having to be an imposition, and without having to inappropriately ask for them.
Change your mindset from asking to one of giving. Yes, giving. From now on you will give others the opportunity to share the value of what you do with the people they know. You will provide them with a good reason for wanting to share, and you’ll provide a way for them to easily share you with whomever they want whenever they want.
The reason it’s so hard for you to ask for referrals now is because the way you approach asking for those referrals is selfish and self-serving. Those are the same reasons the way you approach referrals don’t work. Rather than approaching referrals from a me-me perspective approach referrals from the perspective of how do you win by telling others about me.
A second reason it’s so hard for you to get referrals is because you don’t properly prepare to get, nurture, and receive those referrals. In essence, you’re hoping you’ll get referred when you haven’t done what you need to do to get referred. You’re like the guy who can’t figure out why he never wins the lottery even though he doesn’t buy a ticket.
There are 5 critical things you must do to create the referrals you want.
First, your clients must know the outcomes and results you help others achieve. Isn’t it true that people only buy your services because they have a problem they want solved, or a challenge preventing the outcome they want? Clients want outcomes and results, and they will refer people who want those same outcomes and results as long as they know what those outcomes are and that you can make good on your promises.
Second, you rapidly transition into a ready buyer when certain events trigger your buying mechanisms. If a copy machine sales person asked you who you knew that needs a copy machine you’d probably have no clue. If that same copy machine sales person told you that when you see the waste basket full of crumpled paper by the copy machine that’s a pretty good sign the company may need a new machine you’d know what to look for and who to refer. What would your client see, hear, or have to know that would indicate someone is a potential client for you? Help them to look for the symptoms and problems that trigger a need for your services.
Third, teach your clients how to share you. They aren’t going to want to call up their friends, peers, and relatives and ask them to meet with you. They don’t have a reason to want to do that. However, each and every time you connect with them you can provide good information that others would want access to, and a way for them to share that information with the people they know.
Fourth, make it fun and memorable to share you. This is how and why viral marketing work so effectively. While you probably don’t want a video of you circulating the internet you do want to be a point of conversation among your clients and potential clients. You can do it in the real world with real events and tangible things.
Fifth, provide systems to accumulate and generate automatic referrals. Every point of communication or connection should include a referral mechanism. Remember to include an array of communication mechanism to fit the way each client likes to communicate: mail, phone, email, website, live events, etc.
One way to make sharing you fun and memorable is providing the means for your clients to look good for doing so. For example, you may be able to arrange a gift certificate with a local merchant where you’re clients can give the certificate to their friends as a benefit of their relationship with you. This reinforces the giving perspective in your referral approach.
You can ask for referrals until your blue in the face, or you can give your way to more referrals and increased sales . You’ll find the more value you give the more rewarding it is for others to refer you. The more personal satisfaction they gain from referring you to others who are appreciative of the referral the more they refer you. It’s a giving win-win for you, your existing clients, and your potential new clients.
By Devin Mason