Getting a Referral: 3 Easy Steps

Instead, conduct the referral process the same way that you would conduct other pieces of the sales process. Follow these steps:

  1. Establish rapport. Use language to meet your client or prospect at their current state of mind. You’ve done this to open the sales call by simply verifying several pieces of information with your client or prospect. Do the same thing here as well. If you are speaking to a past or returning client, use questions to get them to verify their experience. If you are speaking to a new prospect, use a cushion to acknowledge their current state, appeal to their nobler side and then reiterate some of the points about their industry that brought you to the prospect in the first place.
  2. Describe the kind of referral that you are looking for. Describe your ideal client in as much detail as possible. When possible, use elements that are shared by the prospect or client that is sitting in front of you. And use descriptive language to create a person that your client will understand and relate to. Describing your ideal client as a young person with high energy, working in a creative hi-tech environment creating unique applications for the web will result in your prospect thinking about specific people with names that have done some of the work that you have outlined.

    However, saying that you are looking for web designers will result in your prospect or client having an unfocused mind and they will most likely say, “I can’t think of anybody right now, but I’ll let you know when I do.” Remember, detailed descriptions will act as an anchor in your clients’ mind and produce concrete results. Vague descriptions of the type of referral you are asking for will produce vague results at best.

  3. Lower the barrier to getting cooperation. Lower the barrier by reducing the risk associated with your client or prospect giving up their contacts’ information. Remember that if they are giving you their contacts, they are putting their reputation on the line. Make them look good by insuring that their contacts will get the best service or products possible. If you are getting referrals from a client that you’ve done business with before, this should be fairly easy to do. Tell your client that you will work to insure that these referrals will receive the same types of benefits that they received. You also can get creative here and offer incentives to your clients for supplying referrals that buy your stuff.

This process works if you are asking clients that you have a favorable relationship with or if you are asking new prospects that you’ve never met before (see the question from two weeks ago from member y10mpy). The only difference will be in how you establish rapport at the beginning of the process.
As sales people, it is our responsibility to help lead our clients to a place that will help them get what they need. If we leave that process unmanaged, then you client or prospect will find their own solution and it may not include you or your product or your ideas.
Take the uncertainty out of getting referrals. Guide your prospects and clients in the discovery process and you will get referrals every time.
About the Author: Larry Prevost is an instructor and an IT consultant for Dale Carnegie Training of Ohio and Indiana