client referrals

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A subject that fills the novice salesman with terror and even makes the most experienced of us a little uncomfortable!!

Yes, you’re right, it means asking your clients for introductions to their clients!

We are all salespeople, whether employed or running our own business, and we love to spend time pioneering new frontiers through every means at our disposal including advertising, networking, social media etc.

We are good at it and are quick to see opportunities, but all this effort is focussed on businesses that have not dealt with us yet - no value has been demonstrated.

It is without doubt hard work yet just think how much time we are prepared to spend when a softer target and an easier opportunity exists.

We need to be asking our clients for referrals.

But do we all talk ourselves out of it sometimes?

Why such reluctance when we all believe it is the obvious thing to do…so why don’t we do it more?

The reason is that we seem to have an inbuilt resistance to the subject, don’t have a systematic approach, nor do we train or practice the techniques necessary to succeed.

So, what are the common myths about asking for referrals?

  • I don’t feel I’ve served my clients enough to ask!

Ensure you provide value and reinforce this. It buys permission for you to seek referrals.

  • I don’t want my clients to think I’m not successful!

You don’t have to beg - Focus on the value you bring to the relationship and how you could bring to others.

  • Will I look too aggressive and potentially hurt the relationship?

People respond in kind, so don’t look or act aggressively – most clients would expect you to ask!

  • Most clients feel uncomfortable when asked for referrals.

Some clients feel uncomfortable, so ask and back off if inappropriate.

  • I am a trusted advisor and by asking for referrals it devalues my special relationship with the client.

They may see value to themselves amongst their peers in making such an introduction…the ‘hero’ factor!

  • The client may be seeking a commercial advantage from dealing with me, and may not want to share it.

Acknowledge and suggest leads from non-competitor contacts or sectors.

So, what are the obstacles to success?

  • Not adopting a referral mindset – you must truly embrace the concept of asking for referrals and not be half hearted in your approach.
  • Failing to enhance your ‘referrability’ – you have not demonstrated your value or reinforced it.
  • A ‘shotgun’ approach – share a vision of your ideal client or you will get wrong type of lead!
  • Lack of a systematic approach – develop your own technique and failsafe plan.
  • Lack of training and practice – it really can’t be done without!

So, how do we get started?

Firstly, use the opportunity during the opening ‘small talk’ to plant referral seeds. By building a close relationship and identifying value you will earn the right to know who your client knows.

Ensure your client does not ‘keep you a secret’ from his own contacts and allow enough time during the meeting to explore the concept of working together. In other words, share your vision of how you can help each other!

You should endeavour to give referrals to your clients and even leave them with a supply of your business cards to help them make introductions.

So what is the technique of asking for referrals?

You must ensure that the value in the relationship is recognised and on occasions reinforced. Discuss what you are doing for your client and the value it creates.

Treat your request with importance, and seek your client’s permission to explore the subject of bringing value to others by suggesting any specific names or categories you are interested in.

Deal with objections

You could be met with objections, but don’t be deterred -validate their position by restating their objection to ensure you fully understand it.

Explore the reasons for the objection and counter where possible. Ask again and if rejected try to plant a referral seed and back off for the moment. You will live to fight another day!

So, why not make a start - get into referral mindset with a planned systematic approach. Be brave, and make it part of every client meeting. It is so much easier than breaking new ground and don’t forget… your client is probably wondering why you never ask?

Edward Winiarski

Giles Insurance Derby

 

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Date Added: 12 March 2013

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