Letting clients know you’re seeking referrals is certainly a good idea. They might take the message to heart and remember it when talking to friends and drop your name. The “might” in the previous sentence is the problem. When you leave it solely up to your clients to take charge and proactively seek out people they know and tell them about you, you’re setting yourself up for disappointing results.
The client may nod enthusiastically and agree to mention you to those they know, but from the moment they leave your office or stop talking with you, their personal concerns and the demands on their time begin to take over their attention (as they are only human), and your quest for more referrals takes a back seat in their priority list.
To avoid this and encourage action from your clients, take the conversation further—illustrate specific scenarios where they can bring you up and get them to commit to specific action steps. Dan Richards of Strategic Imperatives provided some effective talking points for doing this in a recent Horsesmouth article:
- "If you are talking to someone who is unhappy where they are, perhaps you could suggest that the three of us get together for coffee."
- "Recently I've identified the three traits shared by the clients I work with the best and find I can help the most. I wonder if I can spend two minutes going over these with you, should someone you're talking to be a fit for this profile."
- "I'm always happy to sit down with anyone you introduce and give them an hour of my time to talk about their situation and perhaps suggest an alternative approach for them to consider."
- "I will be conducting a couple of luncheon workshops for clients this fall, at which I'll be discussing how this economy continues to affect client portfolios and what strategies we're using. Many people find that a comfortable way to get a feel for my approach. If you know someone who might be interested, give me a call or drop me an e-mail and I'd be pleased to send him or her an invitation. If you're interested in attending, perhaps you can invite your friend to join you."
- "Please ask if it would be OK to send them a copy of my most recent newsletter; just drop me an e-mail or give me a call with their name and address."
- "You've told me you found the articles I've been sending you valuable. If they're interested, send me a note with your friend's name and e-mail address, and I'd be happy to add them to the distribution list for those articles."
See Dan’s entire article (free registration required) for more on what to say and do to get referrals in today’s environment. Also, see these other Horsesmouth articles for even more action points and strategies:
Getting Your Clients to Follow Through on Referrals and Introductions
Use these three handy scripts to help coach clients into giving more referrals--and following up on the referrals they promise.
3 Powerful Persuasion Secrets That Get More Referrals
If you're looking for more ways to get referrals, here are some worthwhile gems from a new book.
7 Ways to Get Specific Referrals
To get more referrals, you need to get specific. Here are seven ways to increase referrals, along with specific questions you need to ask your existing clients.