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Why can’t you get more referrals?


The definition of “referral” will surprise you, and at the same time make you understand why you don’t get as many as you expect or ask for.

The definition of “referral” is “risk.”

Do you ask for referrals? Do you get as many as you think you should? Why do people hesitate when you ask? Why do people not give them to you, or put you off? Why do you hesitate to ask? Do you really feel you’ve earned the referral before you ask for one?

Here are a few questions to ponder if you didn’t get what you asked for:

Did they like you enough?

Did they trust you enough?

What did you do to deserve it?

What did you do that was memorable?

What would they risk by giving a referral to you?

Giving a referral is a risk. Is your customer – often improperly referred to as your client – willing to take a risk by referring you? Are they willing to risk a friendship or relationship they have by referring someone to you?

More powerfully stated: When are they willing to risk a friendship or relationship they have by referring someone to you?

You are not going to get great referrals without a high level of comfort, a history of performance and deep level of trust.

Referrals are the highest-percentage sales call in the universe. Which would you rather have: 100 cold-call leads or one referral? Just checking.

Referrals are not magic, but they sure make selling seem like it. You make more sales when you have more referrals.

What’s the best way to get a referral? Don’t ask. Instead, earn it.

Picture this. You walk into your best friend’s house and say, “Mary, could you do me a favor? I’m looking for some new friends and I was wondering if you knew anybody like yourself that you could refer me to. By the way, I’m going to be selling them something. If you wouldn’t mind doing an introduction for me, I’d really be happy about that. And oh, by the way, thanks.”

Doesn’t that sound ludicrous?

Your friend may even agree to do it, but their list is likely to be very short. It might even be empty.

What I have just described for you is what 99.9 percent of all salespeople do when they ask for a referral. It’s obvious that using this technique is 100 percent wrong.

Anyone who asks for a referral doesn’t get it. A referral isn’t something you ask for. A referral is something you earn. You may ask for them all you want, but it makes everyone feel awkward and will often destroy a budding relationship.

Which brings me to my point. When is the best time to ask for a referral? After the risk has been eliminated.

Sales managers tell salespeople to ask for referrals as soon as they make a sale. Sales managers are wrong.

That’s the worst time to get a referral. You haven’t delivered. There’s no relationship yet. There’s no proof of service yet. Trust, at this point, is tentative.

Get your customers to start thinking by asking them a series of questions. “Mr. Jones, if we deliver and exceed your expectations, who else would you insist get this?” Let him answer.

Next you should ask, “If we are phenomenal, would you be willing to call a few associates and set up a three-way lunch?”

The referral outcome is now in your court. All you have to do is perform the way you promised. All you have to do is deliver.

Asking for a referral too early makes you look greedy. Asking after you have eliminated risk and built trust is the “money” card.

I’ve always measured my success as a salesperson by the number of unsolicited referrals I get. That’s the report card of selling. What could be better than having people referring you behind your back? Better still, having people calling you and wanting to buy.

How many unsolicited referrals do you get?

Free GitBit: Want a method for exchanging referrals that actually works? It’s called a blueprint for referral alliances, and it’s yours by going to www.gitomer.com. Register if you’re a first-time user, and enter the word BLUEPRINT in the GitBit box.

President of Charlotte, N.C.-based Buy Gitomer, Jeffrey Gitomer gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or by e-mail at salesman@gitomer.com.

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