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Aug 16, 2002
Blog Post

Marketing Consultant's Forum: How to Ask for Referrals

SUMMARY: The Forum is a new (two weeks old) section in our MarketingFAME newsletter that is designed to help consultants share tips to grow healthy and satisfying businesses.

This week Karen Bergh of RainMaker Pro Inc., shares her five tips on how to get clients to refer you. Since referral business is the most plentiful and profitable type for many consultants, we think you will find this article very useful.
The best way to ask for a referral is to be prepared to do it. In order to be prepared, you should take a few simple steps to think about when you will do it, how you will get comfortable with the idea, how you will ask, and what you will do once you get the referral.

1. Evaluate your audience.

Are they really sold on you? Have you established your value? Do they understand what you do? Have you positioned yourself, your services and your right to have a relationship with the client or referral source? Have they given you the “high sign” that it is ok to ask?

For example, signs to look for:
“I really appreciate the work you’ve done.”
“Others should know how great this is!”
“I wish I’d done this a long time ago.”
“We are so happy with the way things went.”
“We are so happy with the way things turned out.”
“I think what you do is just great. I’d like to know more about your business.”

2. Consider the occasion.

Timing is important. The best time to ask for a referral from a customer could depend on the quality of the relationship that you have built with your customer.

One good time to ask for a referral is right after the sale is closed and your product and service is being delivered or installed. Perhaps the best time to ask a customer or client for a referral is after the product or service has been successfully implemented.

This is also the prime time to ask for a written testimonial to use as a sales tool. If it is a referral source, I will just say: never ask before you have established your value and have offered something of value to your new referral relationship. Remember to put favors on deposit in the “bank account” of your reciprocal relationship before you make withdrawals!

3. Determine the length and purpose of the meeting and your approach.

People are busy. How long do you anticipate the meeting will take? What is the purpose for the meeting where you will ask for a referral? How do you plan to approach your “ask?”

It is best in person, no doubt, but if you plan to meet over the telephone be prepared to let the person know how long you will take, the purpose of your call and what you would like to happen by when.

4. Gather facts.

If it is a client, what is the value of the work you did? If it is a network contact or referral source, what have you done for them lately? Where do you stand in your “balance sheet” on the Law of Reciprocity? Have you earned enough value in your business exchange relationship to be able to ask?

5. Make the script your own.

Nobody’s script will work for you. There are many different approaches and suggestions for asking for a referral. You have to find the one that works best for you and that seems most appropriate for the relationship you have and the style of the person you are asking.

Regardless of how you do it, the key points to convey are this:

a. Tell them you enjoy working with them.

b. Tell them you are interested in growing your business.

c. Ask them to describe the value of working with you or the benefit they or the company derived (if a client). Ask them to describe how they understand the benefit of your products or services (if a referral source).

d. Ask if they know of anyone else that would need or want similar benefits by working with you.

For sample scripts, please contact me personally: Thanks!

Tip submitted by:
Karen Bergh
RainMaker Pro Inc.
See Also:

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