17 Oct 2019
Many people I have spoken to tell me that referrals built their business.
Satisfied customers telling others of their positive experience then recommending friends and family to benefit from the service they have experienced.
So if we agree that referrals builds a business and sustains it in the long term, then why are so many of those in business afraid to ask for a referral?
I make no apology for using the word afraid, because I have come across so many professionals who are confident and driven in so many ways that recoil from asking for a recommendation from clients.
They are genuinely uncomfortable asking the question, so perhaps it’s time for a different approach. I’d like to share with you some techniques, I have seen through the years that do work and could benefit your business.
Here are the types of people to inquire about and the questions to ask.
Those that need really the solutions and service you offer
This is the simplest method, you have solved a problem for a client, they are happy and satisfied with the solution, so it’s time to ask:
Do you know anyone else that I would be able to help?
Those that don’t know they have a problem yet!
Education is a key element of many business propositions. When you have helped educate clients and solved the problems they face, then that’s the perfect time to ask them:
Do you know anyone else that needs to learn how to solve these issues?
Those that have been let down in the past
Your business has done an excellent job helping a client but not everyone is as lucky as them. Many people have had poor service in the past. When a client is delighted with your proposition it’s time to ask:
Do you have friends and family that would appreciate the levels of service I provide?
Those that are on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is an excellent way to connect with new clients and business connections. In your research you may have identified someone you wish to connect with. You know one of your first level connections knows them. It’s the ideal time to ask them:
You know I provide a good service could you introduce me to this person?
Those that are similar to the key clients you already have?
Gaining new clients is only a good marketing exercise if they are the type of people you want to deal with, that can benefit from what you provide and more importantly are people you can service at a profit.
You need to be specific when you ask for a referral or you could end up with someone who you really don’t want to deal with. Make sure you ask questions that lead to identifying the people you really want. Perhaps ask:
You are about to retire, is there anyone else you know in your social circle that’s about to retire in the next year?
Those that don’t know how to help you
A client may be delighted with what you have done for them and want to help others benefit from your expertise, but they don’t know how to do it. Coaching is an excellent way to help them help you. Why don’t you ask?
I have a process for referrals, would you like me to talk you through it so you can introduce me to people you know I could help?
Those that don’t know you want new clients
Your clients may assume you have all the people your business wants or can handle. Gaining quality new clients is a communications process. If you want referrals you have to ask for them. Perhaps say:
My business is designed to help people like you. I’d like to add more people like you to it. Do you know anyone who would benefit from what I have done for you?
Those in your own business network
Business Networking is a really valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the success of others, attain new clients and tell others about your business.
Obtaining quality referrals is probably the most obvious benefit and the reason most business owners decide to participate in networking activities and join networking groups.
I have shown you questions to ask clients I’d like to end with a question to ask yourself’
Do the alliances you have in place enhance your business and provide you with the network you need for the future?
Remember satisfied clients and alliances like you and you should never be afraid to ask for referrals.
John Joe McGinley Glassagh Consulting
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