A: Getting referrals is a learnable skill, according to referral coach Matt Anderson. It’s about developing a comfortable conversation that becomes a natural train of thought. Here are Anderson’s suggestions:

1. Acknowledge your client
Toward the end of a meeting, give specific, sincere reasons why your client has made a smart decision. Use statistics that demonstrate their wisdom and remind them of the pitfalls they’re now avoiding.

2. Request positive feedback
Ask an open-ended question, such as: “What have you gotten most out of our work together so far?” You will hear in the tone of the client’s voice whether you have earned the right to ask for a referral or not. Do not go to Step 3 if the response you get is flat. Simply ask what you can improve on and address that.
Feel comfortable digging. Many clients need more time to think, so after their first response, say: “I appreciate the feedback. Anything else that’s been helpful?”

3. Get specific
This is the most important step. Identify ahead of time who you would like to be introduced to or which door you would like opened (example: company, center of influence). Either ask directly about a specific person or say, “I’m really glad that you’ve found our work so meaningful. You’ve mentioned that you work with numerous other corporate executives. I’m guessing you don’t spend much time talking about the kinds of things we’ve discussed, but how would YOU recommend finding out if some of them might be open to hearing from me?”

4. Reduce the client’s resistance
Weave into your referral request an acknowledgment that you don’t expect your client to know all about the other person’s situation (i.e. financial).

5. Coach the client how to warm up the referral
If the referral is not expecting your call, it will lead to business only about 15 percent of the time. If the prospect has agreed to hear from you, your chances of business go up to 50 percent (and a personal introduction–80 percent).

6. Keep control of the process
Ask “When should I get back to you to see if she might be interested?” Let your client verbally commit to you.