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Want a Referral? Ask For It.

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No more acronyms, please. For example, I really dislike ABC (always be closing). It’s pushy, sales-y and off the mark, yet this phrase is used time and time again. It’s a part of the American sales DNA (as immortalized by Alec Baldwin in the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross”). It’s profane, brutal and demeaning. “Always be closing” is disrespectful—to our clients and to us as salespeople.

If we must use acronyms, let’s use ABA (always be asking). For the referral process to work (and it does—when you work it, it works), we must always ask for referrals in our sales processes.

Ask and you shall receive. Our ideal clients—those with whom we love to work, do good work and maintain terrific relationships—know others just like themselves. Our ideal clients are happy to refer us, but we can’t simply wait and hope that they will. Sometimes they do refer us (all on their own), and that’s great. But relying on waiting and hoping does not a great salesperson make.

In a recent interview I conducted with Paul Simon of CanDoGo, which dispenses sales advice, Paul said, “I always thought that if I do good work for a customer, they would just mention me to other people. It just never occurred to me that I actually should be asking for a referral.”

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We often think that when we’ve done great work for our clients, they will automatically refer us. Sometimes they will, in passing, tell someone else about you. People tell me all the time that they’ve told lots of folks to contact me. But I never hear from these people. We need to proactively talk to our clients and ask them to make the introduction. That is when referrals happen.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Your current clients will be delighted to refer you, but you must ask. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s really that simple.

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Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader, and author of “No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust” from Warner Business Books. Visit © Copyright 2011 Joanne S. Black. All rights reserved.