If you’ve been in sales for more than a few weeks then you probably already know that referrals are your highest closing source of business, yet there’s a good chance that you’re missing out on 75% of these golden opportunities.
I speak with business owners and salespeople all day every day. I’m always amazed when these otherwise smart and talented individuals tell me that they don’t proactively ask for referrals. Talk about leaving money on the table. The 20/20/60 rule tells us that: 20% of clients will refer you without being asked, another 20% of clients simply won’t refer you no matter how good of a job that you do (it’s just not in their DNA for whatever reason so get over it and keep moving) and then there’s the massive 60% of clients that will refer others to you if you were to ask them.
The reasons most salespeople don't ask for referrals are typically:
Let’s address each of these and see how we can do a better job at getting referrals:
I don’t feel comfortable asking for referrals.
If your customer told you that they were comfortable with you asking for referrals, would that change anything? If you answered yes to that question, then try this...Alexis, at some point in the future, would you be comfortable if I asked you for some introductions to other people like yourself, that might find value in a conversation with me? Statistically you’ll hear a yes 80% of the time while you’ll only hear a no 20% of the time. I was never good at math but those seem like pretty good odds to me.
I don’t know how to ask.
If your clients are getting value from your service - and hopefully they are - then you can set yourself up with something like this: ‘Carol, if you’d be open to it, I’d like to spend a few minutes brainstorming with you about people in your circle who might benefit from speaking with me'. Don't forget to maintain your client's "ok-ness" by providing an easy out, such as, 'If providing your friends' names as referrals makes you at all uncomfortable, let's just skip it for now.'
I think it will make me look desperate or weak if I ask for referrals.
You’re a professional and asking for referrals is part of your job, if you believe otherwise, that’s your own head trash (unsupportive belief) and you need to change your belief system ASAP. If you truly can’t change that belief, then remember that it’s ok to show ‘vulnerability’. When you do, people will want to help you out, it’s how they feel better about themselves.
I used to ask but my customers could never think of anybody, so I stopped asking.
A lot of times, people are being honest when you ask them for a referral, and they tell you that they can’t think of anyone so you have to help them out. You can start by offering some ‘observable traits. This will be different depending on your business and who your prospects are but let’s pretend that you have an IT business: Roger, an ideal client for me would be a business owner that has people out in the field in company vehicles and are taking payments on mobile devices. Pretty specific, right? Suddenly your prospect knows exactly who they should be making an introduction to.
Referrals are the best and fastest way for us to grow our business and 80% of the clients that we work with are willing to give them so stop with the negative self-talk and get moving.
Michael Gordon is the President of Sandler Training in Calabasas. He works with companies and individuals to grow sales without sounding like salespeople.