How NOT to Ask for Referrals

Many are fearful of asking for referrals – and with good reason. If your relationship with the client is based on trust, you can damage the relationship if you ask in the wrong way. And if you want the client to play a role in introducing you, how you ask is very important. Here are some of the mistakes you want to avoid.

Mistake #1: Positioning the referral process around you and how you grow your business. If the framework for the referral conversation is about “helping you grow your business”, you might as well shout, “This is all about me!” While this approach may work 1x with some of your clients, you run a big risk if you repeat this approach with clients.

Mistake # 2: Insisting the client give you a specific number. Don’t ever try this is you want a on-going relationship with the customer. This might have worked back in the 80’s but it will backfire today.

Mistake # 3: Suggesting the client look in his or her address book or contact list on their iPhone. You send the message that you are on a fishing expedition with a big net and have given little thought to who in their network you are in position to help.

Mistake # 4: Jamming it on the end of a call or meeting with no advance notice. If you want the client to give you a thoughtful response, let them know in advance that it will be part of the upcoming meeting. Most clients will engage thoughtfully, if you demonstrate that you are approaching thoughtfully first.

In upcoming articles, we will address how to ask in a way that strengthens your bond with clients and get them to play an active role.

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