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Five steps to getting that referral

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Fifty percent of your clients will offer referrals if you would only ask. But there is only a 17 percent chance you will ask for referrals. Here are some important tips to get those referrals:

  • Be upfront about why you need a referral. Say, “I love working with you. I am trying to build my practice through my best clients. Who do you know who could benefit from the kind of relationship we have had so far?”
  • Get personal. If you can learn some personal information about the referral, you will clock 10 more minutes on the phone and book more appointments. I was once referred to an executive who was booking speakers for an annual convention. I knew he had a daughter the same age as mine, so I talked about my own daughter. Fifteen minutes later, he booked me for the convention.
  • Each of your clients knows at least 250 people to whom they could refer you. At the end of the closing interview, ask about the clubs, associations, churches and professional groups they belong to. Ask them to introduce you to members of their golf club, for example.
  • Listen for referrals. The best referrals always come when your clients talk about their friends. At the end of the conversation, you can ask, “Would you mind introducing John to me? I would love to meet him.”
  • The comfort response. Find out ahead of time whether a client is likely to refer their friends to you. Ask, “What would I have to do over the next few weeks to make you feel comfortable enough to introduce me to your friends?”

The two most frequent objections you will hear when asking for a referral are:

  • “I don’t know anyone.” You could respond by explaining the average portfolio needs to be reviewed every six months, and you would like to develop relationships with their contacts in order to tend to their future needs.
  • “Let me call them first.” Ideally, the client will call the referral first. Unfortunately, the client rarely follows through. You need to try to ensure that this happens. Thank them and say, “Who were you thinking of? Can I speak to them after you chat with them? Could I have their phone number, so I can be prepared?”

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