Have you ever asked for a referral before?
Did the person you asked answer with a stock response like, “let me think about it?”
(And did they ever get back to you with names of people for you to call or email?)
Or did they almost automatically sit back in their chair or start to shift in their seat? When they moved back from you they are subconsciously trying to distance themselves from the request you just made. And the shift in their chair means they are uncomfortable.
Why does that happen?
Because you attempted to manufacture a referral…meaning you tried to create one that doesn’t exist.
Now you could argue that asking allows the other person to start thinking about who to refer to you.
So then answer me this…how often do they actually get back to you with a list of names of people wanting to meet you?
They don’t. They don’t get back to you. They don’t follow up with a list of 3 or 5 or 10 people who want to meet with you to learn about your product or service.
They just don’t do it.
And if they do get back to you they give vague contact information or they tell you they haven’t told the person you’ll be in touch. In some cases they don’t want you to use their name.
And the reason for that is when you manufacture a referral – one you ask for – you are attempting to artificially create or “manufacture” a vital piece of the referral process that must occur naturally. When you attempt to artificially create this key piece you force the referral process and once forced it never works.
So what is this vital piece of the referral process?
What is it that cannot be manufactured or artificially created?
It is the need, problem or pain of the prospective client which is the reason the prospective client would want to meet with you.
There are three key players in the referral process and two key parts.
The players are:
- The referral source
- The prospective client
- You, as the service provider
The key parts are:
- Trust the referral source feels for you that is transferred to the prospective client
- The actual need or problem to be solved by you
The reason why referrals are so powerful is because the prospective new client has already identified their need (or at least the problem they would like to solve) and is open to meeting with someone who can solve their problem.
You just can’t manufacture this need by scrolling through your contacts on your phone looking for someone to refer. You have to know they have a need.
Remember referrals are powerful because they are easier to close, take less work to get them to the end of the buyer’s journey faster and are less price sensitive (meaning they add greater value to your service because you were referred to them). But all of these reasons (and more) as to why a referral is powerful rests on the need the prospective client has. The need is real and they’d prefer for someone they know to recommend the person/company they should work with.
This is why when you ask for a referral you eliminate the vital need in a referral.
And whether or not the person you just asked for a referral can articulate why they are uncomfortable…the discomfort sets in as the referral source realizes they have to go figure out who may need your services. They have to sit down and think about people they could introduce you to. But that goes against why a referral works so well. A referral works well because the referral source – in talking with the prospective client – shares a need, a problem, a pain they need resolved.
And that need, problem, or pain is the secret piece as to why referrals have a higher close rate.
Think about it. As a realtor does anyone really need to meet you unless they are in the market to buy or sell their home? What about a home builder…unless someone wants to build a home, will they fill up their time with a meeting that doesn’t really matter (no matter how awesome you are)?
Same for a CPA, financial advisor, attorney, business consultant or coach. Unless I am looking for what you offer I probably won’t be willing to take a meeting with you to talk about doing business together even if someone I trust says I should meet with you.
This is actually true for any business…unless I need what you offer I’m just not interested in meeting with you (unless maybe I’m trying to sell you!).
So I urge you to re-consider your “asking” strategy. You need to know how to make referrals work for you. You need to know how to generate referrals without asking. There is a way. And to get you started I complied a list of 30 Ways to Take Control of Your Referrals. Nothing like the present to get started!