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Why don’t we ask for referrals?

Feb 1, 2023 | Brandons Column

Have you ever been referred to a business? Have you ever had a friend ask you if you know of any realtors or contractors, (insert professional here)? 

 A Dale Carnegie study found that “91% of customers say they’d give referrals, but only 11% of salespeople ask for them.” 

 So why don’t we ask for referrals? 

 Perhaps fear of rejection, or that it’s awkward, or that you feel too pushy or used-car salesman-ish. Or all of the above. 

 But didn’t you get past all of those obstacles when you won the business in the first place? 

 I’m a firm believer in “the grass is greener where you water it,” and right now salespeople’s referral lawns (in their own backyards) are turning brown.

 Salespeople need to take the time to cultivate their existing customer base into a lean, mean referral machine. 

 As Kanye West famously asked, “How Sway?!” – How can salespeople start getting more referrals? Let me start by saying that I don’t have all the answers, and I am continuously looking for new ways to expand my referral business. 

 Maybe you’re already part of the 11 percent that asks for referrals. If you’re not, there’s a start- ASK! 

 Get out of your head and ask.

You can start with “Mr. Client, is there someone else you know that might benefit from my services as you did today?” 

 Now that is the most generic way of asking, and if you’re asking them on the spot to name-drop some people, chances are they will go blank. “No one comes to mind, but I’ll send them your way if I come across someone.” 

 You might get lucky, and one of your new clients has a referral for you and VIOLA! 

 There’s one in the bag!

 But from my experience, these wins are few and far between. Instead, do what best-selling author Bob Burg says in his book “Endless Referrals” and ISOLATE. 

 Throughout selling to your client, you could have talked about golf or some other social aspect of their life. 

 Lean on what they’re already sharing with you.

 Paraphrasing Bob Burg’s example, ask if your new client golfs with a foursome, or sits next to the same people at their local Rotary Club meeting. Make them picture those individuals, and perhaps they even go as far as to name them. “Yeah, I usually golf every Wednesday with Joe, Daniel, and Shane.” 

 Perfect! That’s when you ask, “Do you think any of them would benefit from my services?” When you step back and look at this approach, it’s similar to how some of the best salespeople sell. Maybe they still tell you that none of them need your services, but at least you got your client to think of a few people!

As with anything in life, getting better at a specific skill takes practice. 

Practice crafting your pitch for referrals and stay consistent! Ask every customer sold. Research the best books for referrals- I mentioned a great one here with “Endless Referrals.”

So now, my question for the reader is this: Do you play in any foursomes with independent insurance agency owners? Would any of them benefit from a conversation with one of the best networks? If so, you know what to do… refer them to Brandon at PIIB!

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