With this six-step process to obtaining referrals, you’ll have so much success in developing your referral business that you’ll make it an automatic part of every selling situation. Begin by setting a goal for how many referrals you want from each contact. Start with a goal of just one referral and work your way up to getting at least three referrals with every contact you make. You may even be able to get as many as five or ten referrals from every client by implementing this simple strategy!
Help your client think of specific people he knows.
When you ask for referrals, you can’t give your client the whole world to think about. Help him focus on a particular group of faces. Centering on one or two faces is impossible when his thoughts are bouncing off the wall with his new offering, so use the information you’ve gathered about him, such as friends and family or other business associations he has, to get him focused again.
Write the referrals’ names on cards.
Write down the names of those referrals on 3-x-5 index cards or a small notepad. (Be sure to ask how to spell the names of the referrals.) Keep the cards out so you can jot down the information your client gives you (see Step 3).
Ask qualifying questions about the referrals.
Here’s some information you may want to know when you contact the referrals:
What made the client think of these particular referrals?
What do the referrals use in place of your product now?
How would the referrals use the product?
How did the referrals react to the news that the client was shopping for your product?
When you get in touch with the referrals, you’ll be able to begin a conversation based on information you got from your client. When you’ve taken a few good notes, move on to the next step.
Ask for the referrals’ contact information.
Asking for the contact information of the referrals is more difficult because your client may not know this information offhand. But don’t let that deter you. You can’t just settle for the name because he may not be listed in the phone book or may have a common name that makes tracking him down difficult. And knowing how to contact the referral is critical to successfully selling him. At the very least, try to get the full name and a phone number or e-mail address.
Ask the client to call and set up your meeting with the referrals.
Few clients will be comfortable calling to set up a meeting for you. But they’ll be so relieved that you offer to do it yourself (see Step 6) that they’ll jump on it. If you go directly from Step 4 to Step 6, you may not get the same response. This step is where most novice salespeople balk. They won’t even try it. But keep in mind that this question is simply setting the stage for the final step.
If the client shows nervousness or refuses to call, ask if you can use the client’s name when you contact the referral.
Your client may not know the referral all that well, or he may feel uncomfortable making the call. If this is the case, let him know you understand his hesitation, but ask if you can bother him for one more favor. Ask for his permission to use his name when you contact the people he referred you to. He’ll probably be relieved to be let off the hook and be more than happy to give you permission to use his name.