Referrals from current clients are completely different from referrals from referral partners. Getting referrals from your current clients require a different conversation, because they already know you, your product, and the benefits. One of the best I know at having the conversation is a friend of mine named Amy. She has developed a system that allows her to receive 10+ referrals per week from her current clients.
I asked her how she was getting so many referrals, when most people are happy with one or two per week. She told me not to be satisfied with just one or two referrals. "I used to get only one or two per week until I started expecting three or four from each person. Unless you make it a point, they don't know how many they are supposed to give you. After setting expectations clients usually just keep providing names of people that I can help, until I stop them."
She says developing a client as a referral source starts at the first meeting. She makes a point during the first meeting to explain that she gets paid two ways, by commission and by referrals. She explains that she arranges meetings with her clients specifically to ask for referrals. This is important because it sets the expectations that her clients will be asked for referrals. "Part of the problem is that most sales people spring the referral conversation on clients, and they don't have time to digest who they want to refer, or even if they want to provide referrals." Amy makes sure her clients understand that if you buy something from her that giving a referral is just part of the process. She explains that when her clients provide her referrals it allows her to focus on providing outstanding service, instead of hunting for new sales.
During the first meeting, Amy also sets the expectation of recurring referrals. If a client chooses to become a referral partner, she outlines how she is going to contact them (email, phone, text), how often (once a week for three weeks), when (starting tomorrow). The only decision that clients have to make is to decide how to make introductions to referrals (by phone or email). Her goal is to making providing referrals as easy as possible. Amy is one of the best people I know at setting the expectation that clients will provide referrals each time she contacts them.
Next is to coach clients how to contact referrals to provide introductions. Similar to coaching referral partners, it is important that clients understand their job is to make the sales, but provide introductions. Amy provides scripts and sample emails. This allows client to know exactly what is expected and it helps them help you. Before the meeting ends Amy makes sure to get a verbal commitment of when and how clients will introduce her to referrals.
Coaching clients to provide referrals is important because people don't want to think about providing referrals. They think you are going to call, pester, and ruin their reputation with their friends. Amy says that because she takes the time to let them know how she is going to communicate, most of their fears about giving names are often squelched. She also positions providing referrals as a way for her clients to thank her by helping her grow her business. Reciprocation is a very powerful emotion.
Getting referrals from potential clients or referral partners is crucial to you succeeding at business and going to the next level. Make sure you ask them correctly and expect results. Remember as a sales person your job is to: Be where your potential client are or be around people who are where your potential clients are. Your current clients are around your new clients every day. Don't forget about them.
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