May 19, 2016
The Best Time to Ask For Referrals
Have you ever been to one of those zoo exhibits – ahem – I mean networking events? People lurk about, conducting drive-by glances at your nametag.
Before it’s too late, you have Jerry Spinklestien vigorously shaking your hand and pleading for referrals.
For the love of monkeys, do you know anyone that needs [insert-service-here]?
This tactless, shotgun approach is the wrong way to get referrals. No trust is built. You don’t even know if Jerry is a good dude. He certainly hasn’t added any value to your life, so why should you dig deep into your network coffers to help him out?
Referrals can be the primary growth drivers for many businesses, but they require tact and a commitment to adding value. “For a good referral, value must be given and recognized” says Bill Cates from LifeHealthPro.
Why Should You Care?
It’s no secret that referrals can have a huge impact on business. Adweek.com provides the following thought-provoking survey results, “Referrals convert two times better than websites or social media”.
Ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising—an increase of 18 percent since 2007, according to a study by Nielsen.
Ok—so can we agree that referrals are great?
…but it can be a bit scary to ask. I feel all salesy, and it makes me want to hide in the dark watching Mad Men reruns.
There are a few things you can do to ensure it’s less risky—even better, that your prospects WANT to give you referrals.
Timing Is Everything
So let’s get right down to it. When do you pop “the big question”?
Can you ask for a referral in your first meeting? Absolutely, but be careful. Build trust and ask insightful questions. If you can quickly add value—and show that you genuinely care—you might be able to pull it off. It’s risky, as it can come off as pushy or premature.
Earn the right to ask.
So you might be a #supersalesdude and successfully bang out the “referral ask” right away, but what about the rest of us?
Here are a few key moments when it’s a good time to pose the question.
When to Ask
Once you get positive feedback
This is a perfect time to ask for referrals, when people tell you they are happy with your product or service. This one is pretty obvious, but still easy to miss out if you’re not committed.
Once the job is finished
Once you deliver your product or service, it’s a great time to review, and ask if there is anyone else you can serve.
Once you’ve added value
If you notice any positive signs in the relationship—you feel closer, you’ve made a successful introduction, or shared an article they love. Be a Go-Giver and add value. The more value you add, the easier it is to ask for a referral.
Once you ask for advice
Put yourself out there, and share a bit about your current growth strategy. Tell them who you’re targeting and ask their opinion. People love sharing their opinion, and you could potentially dovetail the question into an “ask for intros” based on how they respond.
These cover a few better moments to ask, but don’t confuse them for the only moments. Most referrals are missed not because you asked at the wrong time, but because you didn’t ask at all.
We’ll be covering “how” to ask for referrals in later posts, but wanted to make it clear that there is rarely a “perfect moment.” People are usually happy to help! It even brings some people joy and happiness to add value to your life in the form of an introduction.
Don’t rob them of that joy.
Go Forth and Ask Away!
I challenge you to revisit your network and identify 5 people who fit the above criteria. People are more than willing to help if you ask them!
One thing is for sure.
“If you don’t ask for a referral, you’ll never know.”
What do you look for? How can you tell if a referral is ripe for the plucking?