What I am about to share with you could completely turn your business around and have wealth managers chasing you to help invest the many dollars you are putting into your account.
It is part technique and part attitude, but the two are closely interrelated and it is difficult to tease them apart.
If you are in a service business--and 84 percent of the U.S. economy is service based--then referrals are key to your success. This is especially so if you charge premium prices and trust is important.
Think doctor, lawyer, accountant, financial planner, consultant, software developer, editor, wedding planner, speechwriter, media planner, and many more.
In fact, trust is becoming more important even in mundane businesses. Take landscaping. A wealthy, time-pressed homeowner is more likely to favor you with his custom if he has confidence that you will not mess up his grounds.
Entrepreneurs agree that referrals are important. Most don't feel they get enough, don't ask for them, and don't get them--or at least as many as they would like--when they do ask.
Most books and programs that purport to teach you how to get more referrals basically tell you to: 1) Ask more often, 2) Ask different people, and 3) Build relationships with your clients and others so they will be more receptive when you do ask.
This does work, but not very well. And it still leaves you with a sense of discomfort.
Steve Gordon has a deeper insight into the referral business than anyone else I know. In his book Unstoppable Referrals, he goes deep into why you don't ask for referrals, why your satisfied clients don't give them to you, and what you can do about this.
His solution is simple, and this is where the attitude part kicks in. DON'T ask for referrals. There is a different--and better--way of getting them.
Why recommend not asking for referrals? Because this makes you a supplicant, and, at some level, you are uncomfortable with it. If you don't get them, and immediately, you feel rejected. Even slighted. So you shy away from putting yourself in such a position.
Why don't your clients--your highly satisfied clients--give you more referrals?
There are several reasons for this. First, they are preoccupied with stuff that is happening in their lives, and giving you referrals does not make the top five items on their to-do list. Also, it's a chore that can easily be avoided.
Second, they wish you well and want you to succeed but they don't want to endanger their relationships. Suppose they refer you to a close friend. If the relationship is strong, that friend will feel obligated to listen to you, perhaps even meet you. That, of course, is why you want the introduction in the first place.
But what if the friend doesn't find your offer compelling? And what if--horror of horrors!--the friend feels pressured by you to buy something that he does not want to???
This will put a slight tear in your client's relationship with his friend, and he does not want to risk this happening. The odds may be slight, but they are there, and it is safer to do nothing and not refer the friend to you.
Finally--this is subtle--referring you makes your client a supplicant. In his mind, he is asking his friend to consider you and--again in his mind--the friend is doing him a favor when he does so. Your client does not want to be a supplicant any more than you do. So he sits on his hands.
And THAT is why you do not get all the referrals you want or think you deserve. What can you do about this? Gordon has thought hard about this and his solution is elegantly simple, powerful. And it is all about your attitude.
First, DON'T ask for referrals. You have a satisfied client. She would like to refer her friends to you but doesn't because of the reasons given above.
So you flip it around. You don't ask her for a favor. You DO her a favor. You create something very valuable that SHE can give to her friends and associates, and they will be delighted to get it. And this something is limited and unique and only available to her associates because of her relationship with you.
She is no longer a supplicant when she draws the attention of her contacts to you. She is the enthusiastic and proud bearer of a gift. She has bounty that she will bestow on the deserving.
Next, make it easy for her. You take all the work off of your client's plate. You will send this thing to her friends/associates with a note explaining it came from her as a gift. All she has to do is give you names and contact details.
When some of these friends tell her how much they appreciated her "gift," she will glow and open up her Rolodex even more.
Now, she will be actively looking for people she can refer to you. This is how you create evangelists.
I know firsthand how powerful this is. A participant in my program referred one of his clients. That client enrolled in my expensive capstone offering, and this required him to travel to New York multiple times--a three-hour flight for him.
He benefited so much from the program that he sent a warm note profusely thanking my client for making the introduction. And now my client has become a referral fountain. Two of his referrals are in my program right now, and both are making that three-hour flight regularly.
There are two keys to making this strategy work:
- First, you have to devote considerable thought to crafting something you can offer that delivers incredible value to your ideal prospect.
- Second, that something has to lead the prospect to the inevitable next step of retaining your services.
John Curry of Tallahassee, Florida is a leading retirement planning specialist. He has qualified for the "Top of the Table"--the highest recognition for elite performers in his field--multiple times.
The thing of value he uses is his book, Preparing for a Secure Retirement. Some clients take copies of the book and personally hand them to their close friends. Some introduce him, and he sends the book to them. And sometimes, he hosts a dinner for the client and his friends and their spouses and gives each of them his book at the dinner after a brief presentation.
There is no pushy sales pitch. Just a good dinner, an informative talk, and an invitation to call him if they would like to learn more. Curry estimates that he gets three new clients from every five books he gives away. Play with this idea and see how you can make it work for your business.
Let's say you run a dog-boarding service. How about preparing an authoritative booklet on how to prevent separation anxiety in your dog? You describe the condition, the ill effect it has on the dog and--by extension--the owner's family. You give helpful tips on how to ameliorate this, and, of course, these tips are implemented in your operation.
You offer to send the booklet to your satisfied client's dog-owning friends. She can also select any three of them to receive a greatly discounted boarding package.
The possibilities are legion and limited only by your own imagination.
You can learn more about Steve Gordon's method here.