If you’re asking for referrals, you’re already a step ahead of your peers.
Many people don’t get referrals because they just don’t ask for them. Sales training guru Dale Carnegie famously stated that though 91 percent of customers reported that they’d give referrals when prompted to do so, only 11 percent of salespeople actually ask for them.
Referrals are critical to long-term success. However, just asking doesn’t automatically translate into referrals. You need to equip the referral source to act! If you’re asking for referrals but not seeing many roll in, it’s probably time to re-evaluate your strategy.
Here are some things that may be hindering incoming referrals:
You Haven’t Made It Easy
If it’s not easy to share your information, most people won’t do it. Look for ways to simplify the process of putting your information in someone else’s hands so they can easily pass it along.
One way to simplify the process is removing the pressure of having someone else explain your business. Possible referral sources probably don’t feel comfortable trying to pitch your business. They don’t have the comfort level nor do they have the knowledge of everything you have to offer. Make it easier for them to share all your information by developing a resource that highlights what your business does. Be sure to focus on the customer and how your solution benefits them. Some might distribute the resource via business cards, pamphlets, one pagers, flyers, or brochures. But chances are, referral partners aren’t going to have any of those items handy when your product or service come up in a dinner conversation.
A better option is to make your resource mobile accessible and easy to access and share. A clever landing page URL with a catchy name, a personally branded app that can be easily shared, or a short code and keyword SMS solution (that directs people to your landing page or app) are all great solutions to make the referral capture process more streamlined and functional.
You Put Your Referral Source in an Awkward Position
“Awkward asks” are prevalent in a lot of different of industries, but insurance sales are especially notorious for them. Awkward asks are aggressive sales techniques that are crafted to force someone to provide you with names to build your sales pipeline. Though it’s a good sales strategy to ask for referrals, it’s not a best practice to coerce people in your network to give you names of contacts.
Awkward asks take various forms. It could be perusing the LinkedIn connections of one of your customers, building a list, and asking for introductions to a long list of contacts. It could also be pushing a piece of paper over and asking them to write down a list of names and contact information. These approaches usually aren’t very effective because you’re putting someone in a very uncomfortable position.
Asking in a way that elicits an easy response demands an incredible amount of finesse. Think through ways to ask for referrals without putting others in an awkward position.
Reframing the question can make a huge impact. For example, if you’re a tailor, instead of asking, “Could you introduce me to someone who you know could use a nice suit?” ask, “Could you introduce me to 5 of your best-dressed colleagues?” Now you’re allowing the prospect to pay a compliment to a friend while simultaneously making an introduction to a warm prospect.
Another great practice is to ask happy referrals to tell their referral source what a great experience they had with you. You can also send the positive testimonial to the referral source directly. This feedback encourages the referral partner to be more confident about sending more business your way in the future.
You Don’t Believe in What You’re Selling
This might seem unrelated, but it is pretty foundational. Though actual snake oil is largely off the market, the concept still exists. Today’s shoppers are savvy, and they can spot a fake a mile away.
If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, you should probably start looking into another product or service to represent. When you’re confident that the product or service you offer will improve the buyer’s life, it’s easier to make the sale and get referrals. Think about how your product or service helps. It might makes things easier, faster, or just plain better. It might also provide customers with peace of mind.
If it’s hard to get excited about what you have to offer, you’re going to have a hard time convincing your prospect on top of convincing yourself.