How To Ask For Referrals

Pareto Systems


Pareto Systems


Nov 18, 2023

How To Ask For Referrals

It would seem that one of the golden rules of conversation around the globe is the fact that in everyday conversation people tend to discuss the things that exceed their expectations, or that fall below their expectations. People seldom discuss the things that simply meet their expectations, for the simple reason that those types of things do not make for a very good anecdote.

As a professional, you have a suite of services that you offer and that people expect when they hire you. These are things like meetings, phone calls to clients, management of services, etc. You can do all of those things extremely well, but does that make you referable? For sure, doing a job well is commendable, but if you limit yourself to these core deliverables, you have effectively shut yourself out of the areas where most referrals tend to come from.

Savvy professionals realize that those core deliverables that are expected of them are simply meeting expectations and that in itself does not make for an interesting conversation. In fact, that is why the professional was hired. He or she is compensated well for those core deliverables and life goes on. In other words, the likelihood that clients are out there chatting up that kind of professional is slim. Contrast that to a professional that does all those core deliverables very well, but then goes above and beyond for their best clients. Perhaps that is a wine-tasting event, or maybe a nice client dinner several times a year, or maybe even renting a movie theatre one day and filling it up with clients and their families.

Any time that clients are out there telling stories about how well they are treated, the people listening are contrasting that story with their own situation. If a client is not well served, and if the story is compelling and attractive, they get a nagging feeling that they are in the wrong place, and then they might think: “Why doesn’t my professional do that kind of thing?” These are the moments where the majority of referrals, or introductions, are born.

Would your clients be confident about referring you? Examine your process for taking on a new client, your meetings, and your service model. Is it memorable? Would you refer someone to your process? Would you be confident that you would get glowing feedback from the person you sent there? These questions and answers have huge implications for the number of referrals you receive.

If you have a consistent process, an exceptional service model, and exceed client expectations, then you are referable, but you still may not be getting referrals. Often time’s people will say it’s because you don’t ask for them, and that is true. Asking for referrals does bring in referrals, but at the expense of whom?

  • How does asking for referrals make you feel?
  • How does it make your clients feel?
  • Does asking for referrals seem needy?

Your answer to these questions says it all. We recommend that you don’t ask for referrals directly. Instead that you position the idea of “introductions” as a true value-added service that you provide for your top clients, and to ensure that your clients understand how Introductions should be handled. It’s the difference between pitching with salesmanship versus positioning with stewardship. How do you want to be perceived?

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