Referrals

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Sep 10, 2008 11:09 pm

Asking for referrals has always been something that's a little hit or miss for me.  I might say, "Is there anyone else you care about who might need the same help and expertise you've received?", or something to that effect.  Rarely works.


It seems people's willingness to give referrals go way down since this market ate shit.  I don't think people are talking to each other about their investments, but I don't know.


So, in general, what have you found to be the most productive way of asking for and receiving referrals?


How do you guys get the types of referrals where your client gives you a list of 5 people?  That would make my day.

Sep 10, 2008 11:37 pm

I agree that people seem to be less likely to give referrals given current market conditions. That being said, here's something that can work.  This method was talked about a month or more ago on this board, but I'll say it again. 


Here's the short version:
 
"Mr. Client, you're a very succesful commercial contractor (chriopractor, dentist, business owner, etc.), besides you, who is one person that you would say is another successful commerical contractor?"
 
The client will usually pull someone from their brain.
 
"Mr. Client, is XXXXX someone I should be talking to?" then shut up.
 
The client will either say yes or no (if they say no, they will usually have a decent reason). If they say yes, you say:

"Mr. Client, what would be the best way for me to meet XXXX?" You can even suggest the three of you get together over lunch/dinner/coffee.
 
That only leads to one referral (not five), but if you can get the name of another successful person of that profession, AND have your client/friend introduce you, that's better than five random names that you send a cold letter to.
 
This is a very condensed version of PSB Training's referral method, so if you like it, visit their site at:
http://www.psbtraining.com/
Sep 11, 2008 8:51 am

Snags, great topic. 

 
As you've experienced, that is not a good question that you are asking.  Imagine if a plumber came to your house to fix your toilet and he said, "Do you know anyone else who has a broken toilet right now."  Even if you were the kind of guy who is willing to refer someone good to your entire phone directory, the answer would still be "no" to this type of question.  The only exception is if your friend called this morning and told you that he had a broken toilet.
 
There are different ways to get referrals at different stages of the process.  Clients are different from future clients who are different from people with whom you have no relationship.
 
It needs to start with your mindset.  Your mindset must be that it is a necessity for you to get paid for your time.  You only get paid if someone becomes a client or gives you referrals.  Since you don't know who will become a client, you need to get referrals at every appointment.
 
How do you get referrals when all that you have is a 5 minute introductory meeting with a person?  Feed names. 
 
Me: "I wanted to ask you about a couple of other people who I am supposed to call.  Do you know John Smith who owns the automobile dealership next door?"
Prospect: (yes or no)
Me: Do you know Jerry Gold who owns this builing?
Prospect (yes or no)
Me: Do you know Amy Post who owns the restaurant on the corner?
Prospect (yes or no)
Me: I then ask questions about the "yes" answers.  Just basic stuff like "Can you tell me a little about Amy.  Is her business pretty successful?  Do you know her pretty well?  Do you think highly of her?"  I then go to the next person.
I then will ask something like, "When I call Amy, do you have any objection to me telling her that you spoke highly of her?"
 
I then may ask him about a couple of people who I know that he knows.  "I'm also planning on calling your partner, Tom.  Is he a good guy...blah, blah, blah.
 
The whole key with all of this is that in order to get referrals before trust, the names must be fed.  Another easy thing to do is to say, "I work with lots of attorneys and CPAs.  Who do you use?  Do they do a great job for you?"...."When I call them, can I tell them that you said that?"  If a factfinder is scheduled, I wait until the fact finder to get this information.  If one isn't scheduled, I ask this right away.
 
The same technique can be used while coldwalking.  Ex. You have just walked into 5 businesses and have not spoken to the owner at any of them.  You did get the owner's information.  At business 6, you speak to the owner.  Ask this owner about the other owners.  If he speaks highly of any of them say, "When I call Joe, can I tell him that you spoke highly of him."
 
How do you get referrals at a fact finder?  Set the stage upfront.  Let the prospect know that you expect introductions if they are happy with the work that you do.  "Just like Tony introduced me to you, I will need your help in being introduced to other people.  Don't worry.  I am not looking for you to introduce me to people who need my services.  Rather, I'm simply looking to meet certain types of people and they'll be no expectation that they have any need or desire for my services.  Does this sound fair?"
 
However, since it is still in the fact finding process, trust isn't fully developed.  Use the FF to gather names to feed back...attorney, cpa, boss, guardians, parents, siblings, etc.  Also feed some names of colleagues, etc.
 
Once someone becomes a client, it is time to get them to think.  "Let's do some brainstorming to find about a dozen people for you to introduce me.  Don't worry about their financial standing or whether you think that they'll be interested."
 
"I love working with business owners.  Who are some of your friends who own businesses."
Then keep asking about one group after another, etc. etc.  Get all of the names before you stop to find out anything about the person.  There's tons of questions that you can ask.
Sep 22, 2008 2:59 pm

I have heard Nick Murray say to ask for Introductions instead of Referrals. That way it seems like you are less hard up for new biz. Not saying you are hard up but Nick said that might be what you are inferring when asking for referrals.


Take it with a grain of salt but it was an interesting point. I have used a few things before like attaching an e-mail tag line such as" the finest compliment I can receive is a referral from a client...." Pretty much a cliche statement but it doesn't hurt.
 
Sep 22, 2008 3:57 pm
professional1:

I have heard Nick Murray say to ask for Introductions instead of Referrals. That way it seems like you are less hard up for new biz. Not saying you are hard up but Nick said that might be what you are inferring when asking for referrals.


Take it with a grain of salt but it was an interesting point. I have used a few things before like attaching an e-mail tag line such as" the finest compliment I can receive is a referral from a client...." Pretty much a cliche statement but it doesn't hurt.
 
 
Yeah, my email says tag line says, "The highest compliment you can pay us is the referral of a friend or relative".
 
I too agree that Nick Murray's approach of asking for an introduction might be stronger and potentially less irritating in a way.  The problem is unless you know who they know, like Anon said, you need to feed them names.
Sep 22, 2008 5:18 pm

Snags, that 's a great point.  It's tough to ask for introductions to people that you can't yet identify. 

 
Here's my strategy that works in specific circumstances...If I am working on a  problem or concept that is specific to a certain segment of people, I will talk about referrals for that specific problem.  For example, I have a program tailored specifically for execs at a certain level at a F500 company near me (stock options & restricted stock).  I know that it is somethign I can only do for them - not lower level employees, not their neighbor that works at XYZ corp., but only this specific situation.  So when we are addressing the issue and developing the plan, I tell them (when they realize how much sense it makes) "you know, if there are other people you work with dealing with the same situation, I am happy to explain to them how they can implement this".  It avoids the "I want a new client" pitch, and presents it more as a "I will help your co-workers if they need help" approach.
In reality, if I can get them in the door, they are likely to become clients rather than try to do this themselves.  If they have a good advisor, they have likely already done this with them (It's nothing unique or earth-shattering, it's just my philosophy on how I approach this particular issue with these people).
Sep 22, 2008 5:20 pm

By the way, this hasn't knocked down my door yet, but it does present me with some pre-qualified referrals for people that I know, by default, have money.  I also talk to CPA's about my approach, and that HAS opened some doors in this area.