You can get referrals from clients and prospects without even asking. All you need to do is plant seeds into their unconscious and watch them go to work for you. I teach 10 different ways to plant powerful referral seeds with prospects and clients. Here are five of them you can use right away:
1. Celebrate meeting a new prospect through a referral.
Every time you meet a new prospect through a referral, celebrate it. Talk about the person you know in common. Tell them “It’s great Tom introduced me to you. When people see the value in the work I do and introduce me to others, everyone feels more comfortable and it frees me up with more time to spend with my clients.”
2. “Don’t keep me a secret.”
Mitch, a registered rep in Cleveland, never leaves a meeting with a client or prospect without saying “Remember, don’t keep me a secret.” I encouraged Mitch to use that personal slogan as a P.S. on letters and handwritten notes. He said after doing this for about three months, his phone started to ring with referrals. I’ve had a number of producers report great success with this tactic. It never hurts a relationship.
3. “I’m never too busy.”
Tell all your clients that you’re never too busy to see if you can help their friends, colleagues or family members. Notice I put “to see” in the seed. We must always qualify the referrals we get and teach our clients whom we serve the best.
4. “How I handle introductions.”
Two of the main reasons why people are unwilling to give referrals are: 1) they are concerned about confidentiality, and 2) they don’t know how you’ll handle the referrals (it’s a bit of a risk for them). So, you can plant a seed and ease their concerns at the same time with the following language.
“George, there’s something I want to run by you. Many of my clients like to introduce me, and the work I do, to others whom they care about. I just wanted you to know that when that opportunity presents itself to you, it would be good for you to know how I handle introductions so you’ll feel comfortable. I don’t like to contact people without them knowing a little bit about who I am and why I’m calling. I don’t like to surprise people and make them wonder, ‘Why did George give my number out to this person?’ Make sense? I like to be introduced in some form before I make contact. It’s important for you to know that I handle introductions very carefully and without any pressure whatsoever. How does that sound?”
5. Model the best way to give referrals.
You can assure yourself of higher-quality referrals by how you give referrals. Let’s say you’re referring an attorney to your client to get a will done. Don’t just give out a name and phone number. Get permission for the attorney to call your client. “I’ll have Mack give you a call to get this started.” This serves Mack, it serves your client (because they finally get their will done) and it serves you. Then, call your client in a few days to make sure Mack has called and everything is going smoothly.
By giving a referral this way, you’ve done two things. First, you’ve demonstrated the power of referrals when handled with care. Second, you’ve modeled the best way to give a referral. When it comes time for your client (or Mack) to give you referrals, you’ve shown them the best way.
It’s important that you’re not obnoxious about asking for referrals. And it’s equally important that you find soft ways to keep the topic lively in your client’s awareness. Planting referral seeds will do that. Also, planting seeds in this way often helps you identify folks who are willing to play the referral game quickly in the relationship.
Sometimes planting a seed can turn into a referral conversation right on the spot. We get successful “seed planting” stories in our office on a regular basis. Here’s a recent one. Jay Mangione read my book Get More Referrals Now and learned the “Don’t keep me a secret” line. I’ve paraphrased his email to me below.
“Bill, I just wanted you to know about a great success story I had from using one of your many referral strategies. I had a client in my office and said to him “Don’t keep me a secret.” He immediately mentioned his mother. It seems she had just sold her home and realized a profit of over $800,000. If that wasn’t enough, as I was working with her, I discovered she had another $4 million with a different firm. That money has since been moved under my management. That’s a $4.8 million client, just from saying “don’t keep me a secret” to her son. You’ve already made me a lot of money. Thank you!”