“A satisfied customer – we should have him stuffed!” ~ Basil Fawlty
Even if you have dozens of happy and satisfied clients, chances are that asking for referrals makes you uncomfortable. But think about it. If you’ve had a great experience working with someone, it’s really satisfying to refer a friend or colleague. It’s even more rewarding when they, too, become a happy and satisfied customer and thank you for having made the connection.
So how do you ask for a referral without being pushy or sounding desperate?
First, it’s helpful to start by acknowledging your appreciation for your client. Something like: “You know, Joe, I really enjoy our work together. I have a couple of slots open in my schedule, and I’m looking for a couple more clients like you. I’m wondering…”
Then follow with “the ask.” The key is to ask in a way that encourages them to think of a specific person and give you specific name. Here are five ways to ask.
1. The Basic: Who do you know that should know about me?
2. The Acknowledgement: Who do you know who, like you, <flattery, aspiration>? Example: Who do you know who, like you, is highly motivated and focused on achieving a personal best in their next race?
3. The Challenge: When you first called me, you were experiencing <problem>. Who do you know that has a similar challenge who may want to meet me and learn more about how we could work together to achieve similar results?
4. Curiosity: Who do you know who may be curious about …? Example: Who do you know who may be curious about the type of customized training program we’ve designed for you?
5. The Breakthrough: You really achieved a significant breakthrough recently when you …. Who do you know who may seek a similar breakthrough?
The next step is to ask them if they would be willing to make an introduction via email or phone, and have you follow-up. You can send them a brief one-paragraph about your business – specifically the types of problems you solve and results you deliver.
Remember to also ask the referrer what you should know about that person. Any information you can glean that will help “break the ice” in your first call will result in more rapid rapport, and thus a higher probability of success.
What have you found works best to seek referrals from satisfied clients and colleagues?