In this series we have been unpacking why referrals are so misunderstood. From why people fear them (hint, because they think they have to ask…they don’t.) to believing it takes a lot of time to generate them to the idea that you have to pay for referrals.
But thankfully we have debunked those myths about referrals and we are going to debunked one more in this article. And in the process of debunking those myths, we have dived deeper into understanding the truth behind referrals.
Now keep in mind, most people aren’t confused on WHY referrals are so important.
We understand referrals are powerful because the referral is “dropped into our laps” already trusting us (a key in deciding to buy) which means they are quicker and easier to close. A referral is also less price sensitive because our value has already been established by the person referring us before we even meet. We understand the power of a referral, the why.
But even though we aren’t confused on the why behind referrals, we are confused on what a referral actually is and how you generate them consistently.
In Part One of this series, we made sure we were on the same page with the definition of a referral and are clear on what a referral is and what it is not.
In short, a referral has two key parts that separate it from a warm lead, introduction or word of mouth buzz. A need identified (#1) and a connection made (#2). The prospect has to have a need, something they need solved which means they are looking for solutions. (You and your service/product are the solution.) Plus, there needs to be a connection made by the referral source to the prospect – typically over email – with the referral source letting you know the prospect has a need and they believe you are the one to solve it.
Being clear on the definition is important because when we are fuzzy on what a referral is, it leads to confusion of how to generate them. Because of that confusion many people believe one or more of the top 5 referral myths (listed below). In Part Two, Part Three and Part Four , we began the process of debunking these myths by uncovering the truth and reviewing the evidence of the advice we have been taught for decades which created these myths. Here are the top 5 referral myths.
Top 5 Referral Myths
- To receive I must ask and that makes me uncomfortable (Fear of asking – Part Three)
- To receive I have to network and know a ton of people (Fear of getting out of your comfort zone – Part Three)
- It takes so much time, time I don’t have (Belief in the amount of work needed – Part Four)
- I have to pay for them (Part Four)
- Receiving referrals cannot be controlled
In this article – Part Five – we are looking closer at Myth #5 and discovering the truth behind it. (Next to Myth #1 – the “asking” myth – this is my favorite myth to debunk.)
Myth #5 – believing that referrals cannot be controlled – is the belief that referrals are sporadic that just happen randomly with no reason behind them.
What I am told when people believe that referrals can’t be controlled is that:
“I have received a few referrals over time, but nothing consistent.”
“For the referrals I have received in the past, they just showed up, I didn’t do anything to make it happen.”
“You can’t control referrals like you control your networking or marketing activities.”
“Referrals don’t work that way.”
“They are random and you can’t count on them – not consistently anyway.”
Now let me be clear, when I use the word “control,” I don’t mean I can look at you and command a referral (that’s a creepy thought, isn’t it.) I also don’t mean I can snap my fingers and referrals will just roll in. My use of the word “control” is focused on the actions we can take to generate referrals with consistency. What we control are our actions mixed with the right language to plant referral seeds with the right people.
It is true in sales – as with referrals – that what you control are your activities or actions, not the results. But when people tell me referrals can’t be controlled, what they are referring to is that they think there is nothing they can do to generate them, to receive them. I use the word “control” to combat the myth that referrals are sporadic, that there isn’t anything you can do and if you receive them, you just got lucky.
Well luckily for us, those beliefs are just myths. What I and my Growth By Referrals students have learned is that there are actions you can take – completely within your control – that when done correctly and with consistency will allow referrals to happen. Maybe not as many as you would like or maybe more than you can handle.
I asked my Growth By Referrals students to share what they have learned by creating and following their referral plan and here is what you need to know. Here are three valuable lessons learned by following a referral generating plan…they all debunk the myth that referrals can’t be controlled.
- That generating referrals doesn’t have to be left to chance.
- There are easy steps to follow to manage the process (so you know what to do)
- Receiving referrals can be consistent when you follow the process/plan consistently
Let’s look more closely at what my students shared specific to each of these three.
1. That generating referrals doesn’t have to be left to chance.
Steve Stewart, a financial planner, shared “having specific activities you can implement help you understand the things you control and the things you can’t control.” He goes on to share that “asking for referrals is something you can control but almost no one like doing it and it does not increase the chance of receiving a referral. In fact, it may reduce the chance that you will get a referral.” I think we can all agree with Steve and if you are unsure of Steve’s assertion – that I wholeheartedly agree with – then read this article: Manufactured Referrals Never Work.
Gray Langley, a CPA, explained, that “by identifying who is in my true circle of friends, I control the amount of time spent trying to grow a network. I can avoid the “let’s meet and see how we can help each other” invitations, freeing up time to meet with the individuals and business owners being referred to me and making the sticky connections with the people that are important to my business.”
Kathi Wilson, an education coach and advocate, shared that “small actions (like handwritten notes) have a big impact and sets you apart,” making sure you aren’t leaving your relationships or referrals to chance.
But let me be clear – you cannot plan to spend a year writing handwritten thank you notes and think referrals are just going to flow in. You need a well craft year-long plan where your actions are memorable and meaningful. Handwritten notes are part of the plan, not the whole plan.
2. There are easy steps to follow to manage the process (so you know what to do)
When I tell people that you need a referral generating plan to follow, the first response I receive is “that sounds like a lot of work.” (Hint, I believe this belief is fueled by the overarching myth that generating referrals takes a lot of time, Myth #3, the time-suck myth.) Luckily that is not true.
Michelle O’Connor, a property and casualty and insurance agent, explained that “spending a little time upfront to create a system makes it easy to consistently follow through with your plans.” One part of her system – and is step two in the Growth By Referrals process – is to take some time to create an easy to follow process when you receive a referral which takes the guesswork out of how you will thank, so you are more likely to thank right away.
Steve added that “having a clear set of proven activities, implemented on a regular basis, makes it very easy to stick with the plan.” And he stressed that following the plan means, “you avoid recreating the wheel and you pick up speed and efficiency when you are not constantly having to figure out what to do to maintain meaningful and memorable outreach with your referral sources.” This is the what you do for your referral sources in-between receiving referrals.
Amanda Mingo, an attorney, felt after going through the Growth By Referrals program that she had a process that worked for her and who she was. Authenticity is a big component of the program and she was able to build a process or system that would work for her. Those easy steps to follow were “extremely manageable and it is using a method that is tried and true to plug-in pieces that will work for you.”
3. Receiving referrals can be consistent when you follow the process/plan consistently.
The key word here is consistency! For anything to happen, you need to be willing to be consistent. That is one thing all of my students in the Growth By Referrals program clue into pretty quickly. One outreach to your referral sources will only get you so far. One handwritten note will only be remembered for so long. You need a plan to follow that allows you to be consistent.
Steve shared, “the beauty of Stacey’s system is that you can concentrate solely on your defined activities (which you control) and the trust that the referrals will follow. But the activities lead to referrals over time.”
The plan/process is also easy to manage because technology is not everyone’s friend, as Kathi explained, “as a solopreneur I found the steps easy to follow which is good since technology is not my love language! The plan Stacey shows us how to build can be tech-free if you want or need it to be!”
I think Gray summed it up perfectly when he said, “By following Stacey’s easy process that her program outlines, the referrals come in fast and steady. And amazingly, I am now adding the type of client I enjoy working with. I am also not spending time in introduction meetings hearing “I have three other CPA firms to interview” and “how much do you charge.” The dynamic of my referral meetings with first time prospects is completely different than with the prospects who come through another source.”
So my question for you is, do you have an easy to follow system or plan that focused on the RIGHT activities to generate referrals, that is easy and manageable once you know what to do? If yes, awesome! If no, then check out the Growth By Referrals program and hop on the wait list. The program will be re-opening to new students soon!
Throughout this series we have debunked the top 5 referral myths that you must stop believing now! We are also wrapping up our “March” It Forward for Referral Success, a month long of programming in the Referrals Without Asking Facebook group. All month long, we have been focusing on learning and executing on what we need to know to generate referrals! But even if you missed out on following along throughout this month, you can still hop on over and check out the resources provided, questions asked and answered and inspiration shared. In the Referrals Without Asking Facebook group you will find a great supportive community of business professionals who are dedicated to generating referrals without asking.
And as always, I’ll be live each and every Thursday at noon EST / 9 am PST to talk all things referrals and sticky client experiences. Join me on the Stacey Brown Randall live show at www.facebook.com/StaceyBrownRandall.