Anita, an advisor in her mid-thirties, was terrified to ask her clients to introduce her to their friends and family. “What are you afraid might happen if you talk to them about introducing you to the people they care about?” I asked her.
“Well, I don’t know. Maybe they’ll think I’m needy and have to beg for clients. And they’re going to feel awkward and tell me they can’t think of anyone, because they don’t want to bother their friends. It’s happened to me before.”
“If you make it about you — about your need for clients — you’re probably right,” I said. “Your need is about the ugliest thing you can show a client. But if you make it about the people they care about — family, friends, people they work with — you’ll be less awkward, and they’ll be more receptive.”
Referral selling is an excellent way to grow virtually any professional practice. In a practice like Anita’s, where service is very personal, referrals are often the best way. Surveys in several industries show that most people would prefer to be introduced to a provider rather than respond to an ad or an Internet search. And talking with your clients about introducing you to someone who might need your help gives them an opportunity to be a hero, to make a difference in the life of someone they care about.
So while referrals will definitely benefit you, they also benefit your clients and the people they refer to you. The solution is to stop asking for referrals (an act that may be awkward because it’s all about you) and start trying to figure out how to help the people your clients care about.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Do I provide excellent service to my clients?
2. Do my clients have people in their lives who might need that service?