My clients never give me referrals. I’m doing great business with them with outstanding performance reviews. Why won’t they voluntarily recommend me? – Blessing in Huntsville, Alabama
Blessing, this is a great question. As with asking for the sale, you must ask for the referral. This is a simple answer, but there is an art to asking for referrals.
Timing is important. If your client is rushed or busy, let them get back to work and wait for a more opportune moment. Consider the setting as well. In a more casual setting, such as a business meal or coffee, your client will often be in a better frame of mind to provide the referral. Get the details immediately. Today, with smart phones, the information is at their fingertips. Have them send it to you while you are together.
I am a big believer in doing the heavy lifting whenever possible. When asking for referrals, do your research first so you can be specific. The advanced search functionality on LinkedIn enables you to search for second-degree connections and filter for those connected to your business client. Now you can ask for a specific referral. You should also be prepared with a backup in case your client does not feel the first suggestion is a good fit. Always be considerate and never ask for a referral to a rival or competitor of your client’s company.
When you are selling a B2C product or service, incorporate the ask into your follow-up process. You want to check in and ensure your customer is 110% satisfied and that everything is going well. Address anything that crops up after the sale. It’s a great way to cement your relationship by demonstrating your reliability and attention. Do what you say and look for opportunities to provide thoughtful service.
When you receive the referral, treat it like gold. Act on it immediately and thank your customer for the referral. An email will work, or an e-Card, and a handwritten note is perfect. Nurture your referral and outperform expectations. Ideally, your referral will communicate back to your client and thank them for the introduction. Positive reinforcement goes a long ways to securing a second and third referral. So follow up yourself and update your client while expressing appreciation.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.