You have heard it said a hundred times, and in a hundred different ways: You can’t beat a referral. If you don’t seek referrals, you are missing one of the simplest, yet effective ways to prospect. So it begs the question…can there be something better?
Obviously, referrals are by far the most popular and among the most efficient means of generating prospects. A referral is a person to whom you are directed by someone who knows you and values what you offer.
For the prospect, a referral is even more powerful when it comes from a friend, because the prospect knows that his friend has only his best interest at heart. How would you like to receive the benefits of the most compelling sales advertisement on earth for absolutely nothing? You can through referrals.
Furthermore, clients and friends who give referrals become more loyal to you and your business. Once someone stands up and makes a public statement about you, it strengthens the emotional bonds. It gives them ownership.
Referrals from clients are endorsements of the value you offer, and the quality of your work. Compare that to a cold call, and you can plainly see that in building trust with your prospects, referrals are powerful.
The biggest mistake sales professionals make when it comes to referrals is not asking for them—or more often, not asking for them correctly. Too many sales professionals believe that referrals will happen on their own. Nothing can be further from the truth. Clients as well as friends will not necessarily think to recommend you to other people they know…unless you ask, specifically!
Clients as well as friends will not necessarily think to recommend you to other people they know…unless you ask, specifically!
To get referrals, start with your most important group: your clients. While they may not necessarily offer unsolicited referrals, they will often expect you to ask for them. By always reinforcing the idea that your business is based on your capacity to meet and build relationships with new people, you can prepare clients to always be on the lookout for someone you can help.
Adopt this habit, and you open the door to something much more powerful than a traditional referral: personal introductions.
The power and dynamics of a personal introduction completely eclipses traditional referrals.
Examine your prospect’s position for a moment. You are at your desk. The phone rings. It is an agent or broker making a “cold” inquiry, indicating at the outset that she received your name and number from a common friend. You are receptive and willing to talk. But even in these situations, there is still some measure of skepticism (or at least a little hesitation, depending on your current priorities and time constraints).
Now back up, and imagine you are again sitting at your desk, and the phone rings. Instead of a sales professional, it is your friend calling!
The momentary resistance or any hesitation about taking the call disappears. You and your friend chat for a moment, and then he says that he has a person whom he thinks you should meet.
The key difference: in traditional referrals, you make the phone call. In an introduction, your client or friend makes the call for you.
So as you go about your routine nurturing your relationships and seeking referrals, remember that it doesn’t stop there. Strive for personal introductions.
Want to learn more? Get step-by-step insights on getting more referrals and introductions in the fourth edition of Prospect & Flourish: How to Conquer the Weakest Link in the Sales Process, available now from Amazon.com.