Ever had a conversation with a client that left you thinking, “Why can’t all of my clients be like him?” Well, hold on to your hats folks because I am here to tell you that they can! Really!
You are attracted to people with similarities right? So, your Mr. Wonderful Client (we’ll call him Mr. WC from now on because it’s easier on my typing fingers and it kind of makes me giggle) most likely has equally wonderful friends and colleagues. So, all you need is the introduction. And that’s what I’m going to teach you today.
It’s hard to ask for help, but I’m going to give you some tips on doing just that AND because I truly love you, I am also going to give you an extra goody – an email template to use when asking for that referral. You could click here and get that goody now, but I recommend you keep reading first because these tips will also cover ways to ask during a phone conversation and also during an in-person (gasp!) conversation.
Never, ever forget WIIFM?
The What’s In It For Me principle is a nasty little piece of our psyche that makes each of us question, why should I do this for you? What’s in it for me? This is not a judgment on Mr. WC, we all do it. So, help him out by thinking about how giving a referral will benefit him. Perhaps you could offer him money off his next invoice or a free product. You could also reciprocate – is there someone you could introduce him to that may help his business?
Tell them why you love them.
This is important not only because it strokes the ego, but it reaffirms your loyalty to Mr. WC. The main reason good people don’t get referrals is that your client doesn’t want to lose you to another company! By reminding Mr. WC that you love working with him, he will feel equally loyal to you and will also have a good idea of the type of person you like to work with.
Who do you want to meet and what do you want Mr. WC to say? Don’t ask him to refer you without stating what type of client you want and what you have to offer that client. This narrows your chances of a successful referral, but that’s ok. You should be aiming for a specific target, not into the random abyss.
Make it easy.
You can’t write the introduction for Mr. WC, but you can remind him of the skills you bring to the table. I’ve been very clear about this in my email if you need an example. And if you can be super specific by asking to be introduced to a particular person, even better. Which leads us to…
Do your research.
Look up Mr. WC on LinkedIn and find out who he is connected to. Of his connections, who would you like to work with? Dig a little deeper – are they connected through a group, an organization, or through a previous company? He is more likely to refer you to someone he knows well. If there are no shared groups, organizations, schools or companies, it may not be the warmest lead. Go back and try again.
Don’t bug people.
This is the toughest piece of the puzzle. We all get thousands of junk emails every day, so you need to stand out to ensure yours is read and then you have to follow up to make sure they took action without bugging your client. Here’s how I do it:
Mention it in a meeting
I casually mention we have a referral program that saves money on future invoices. It’s not a program we offer to all clients, but I think it could be a good fit for Mr. WC. Would you mind if I send you an email about it? Yes? OK, I will have that sent to you and I’ll follow up in our next meeting to make sure you get it.
Do my research
In person is always best. Keep it casual – the worst way to handle a referral ask is to be desperate because that scares everyone and ruins your credibility.
Again, always best in person. The thank you provides you an opportunity to let your client know if your referral worked or not. If not, explain why and leave it there. Don’t ask for another referral at this point, but follow through on any suggestions Mr. WC has – he may have a different person or method in mind. Following his lead provides him with a stake in this game and now he is working with you!
Referrals can take months, or years to come back to you so never stop looking at ways to get new introductions.
but it doesn’t have to be…