Problem: What salesperson gets an adequate supply of referrals? Most don’t. For most, getting good referrals is a matter of chance, not choice. And yet, referrals are the best source of new business. Without referrals, salespeople are dependent on other prospecting sources such as cold calling, and cold calling is the least productive of new business development efforts.
Analysis: Why aren’t salespeople more proactive in asking for referrals? There are lots of reasons and it all boils down to what the experts call “negative self-talk.” It’s also known as head trash and it sounds like this: “What if I ask for a referral and they don’t have one? Asking for referrals will make me appear needy. Every time in the past that I’ve asked for referrals it’s turned out to be a futile effort. Getting referrals sounds good, but the reality is that it doesn’t work.” With this mindset, one can imagine how difficult it is to ask for referrals.
Solution: Here’s a new tactic for you to try. Often we invite customers to lunch or dinner. When the date is set, say this to your client: “Can I ask you a question? Let’s pretend we were having lunch next week and during the lunch I brought up the subject of referrals. That’d make you uncomfortable, wouldn’t it?” The odds of your client saying, “Yes, you’re right,” are very low. Chances are they’d say, “Oh no, that would be okay.” A gentle takeaway (“Are you sure?”) will confirm their willingness to give you referrals during the meeting. Now you’ve set the stage to ask for referrals during your appointment. Once the stage has been set, discussing whom they might be able to refer you to will be easy.