If you want to be effective at referral marketing, here’s what to know about the most accomplished referral getters that you can work on too:
- How they think: A mindset that says: ‘Why wouldn’t you refer me?’
Your ultimate goal is to expect people to refer you. That can sound a bit intimidating but let’s be open about this: the more confident you are, the more confidence you will inspire.
Just today I talked with a client who used to feel apprehensive asking for referrals because it seemed too aggressive to him. This is very common (frankly it’s ‘normal’ until you learn how this limits you). Today he explained the mental shift by saying: “I have a more heightened view of my status. I do have something important to offer. My time is limited. If you don’t feel I can provide value, we’re wasting our time.”
If you’re not close to feeling that confident yet, it helps to write out 20 reasons why someone should do business with you. Success in this area is like any other – it’s an inside job first. If you don’t feel strongly about your ability to help others, how can you expect others to confidently recommend you?
You can work on being more assertive by practicing your asks: ask more often for what you want. The easiest place to start is doing this virtually. It is often NOT as effective as asking face to face so practice this too, but at least it will help you develop better wording and you will open more doors because you’re asking more.
Mental shifts can and do happen quickly but more often they take repeated thoughts to ‘rewire’ the brain and replace previously unhelpful beliefs. These mindsets are also connected to your self-worth (what you think you deserve) which explains why personal development (and self-acceptance) is also a wise thing to spend time on.
- Top referral getters are good at identifying specific prospects that they want to meet
Most of the people in your network either do not know who a good client is for you or they never give it a moment’s thought.
Those who are effective at generating referrals have learned that it almost never works to say, ‘If you can think of anyone else who might benefit from this, please give me a call.’ Instead, they have found ways to identify who they want to be introduced to.
There are many ways to do it. If you look at upcoming meetings on your calendar and do not know who you would like these people to introduce you to, that’s the red flag that you need to get better in this area by identifying specific prospects.
Start by doing a little homework ahead of time on Google and LinkedIn for names of colleagues or areas of interest that hopefully involve people who make good prospects. Who have they mentioned in the past? Once you are on a topic that’s important to the person you’re talking to, you can start to drill down for people they are close to.
You might even compile a list of names. (I think this can be a slightly tacky approach, but I’ve had a few clients who do not sound salesy doing this with their clients and that’s all that matters.)
The most useful action is to commit to identifying 1-3 names/meeting of potential prospects for people they like. When you do this, you listen differently and ask different questions. You deliberately share stories of others you have helped. You identify specific referral requests!
This is the most important step of all. You have to make it easy for others to introduce you.
- Top referral getters help their referral sources introduce them effectively
Most of the people in your network do not know how to introduce you effectively. Yes, some people are naturally good at connecting others and we love them for it! But they are a small minority blessed with this particular strength. It would be madness to exclude the vast majority of the population simply because no one taught them how to refer.
You must take ownership of this step to make a real impact on increasing your referral opportunities. Depending on the comfort level of the referral source, they might make a personal introduction, a real-time endorsement (e.g. phone call) or a virtual e-troduction. Forget smail mail unless perhaps you have something published to share.
The skeleton content of the endorsement will always be the same:
a) Nicole’s great
b) She’s worth talking to
c) Can she call you?
In 2012 you fluff it up. You explain: how you know Nicole, why you trust her professionally and how she’s helped you/your clients, a strong recommendation to at least have a conversation with her (or other compelling reason to meet: she’s a great resource in the community) AND permission for Nicole to get in touch (or suggested dates for a personal intro).
Without these steps you’re going to reduce your chances for a meeting by at least 35%.
- Be a better resource: Top referral getters often find creative and more personable ways to ‘tip’ a relationship from no-business to referral giver
While trust is the foundation (based on competence), being really likeable can make a bigger difference for others to want to help you. Robert Cialdini’s lifetime of work on influence has found that the more people like you, the more they want to say yes to you.
You can’t change your personality but you can be more strategic about how you improve key relationships. Sure, sometimes doing a great job and saying thank you is enough. But with key potential relationships, why wouldn’t you want to pour more water in the well? Top referral getters either know or at least sense that helping others in meaningful ways creates good karma and is the quickest way to get they want.
Examples of what some recent clients of mine did to ‘tip’ someone from prospective centre of influence to actual referral source: Suzanne asked him for advice on how she could get more involved in the charity he was passionate about; Todd went door-to-door for him because he was running for mayor; Bill took him to a Boston Celtics season ticket holders ‘meet the legends’ event; Steve sent her flowers; Anthony mailed him a baseball biography; Mike bought small gifts for her assistant’s children; Rick sent him a t-shirt from his favourite microbrewery; Joe got him free rounds of golf; Dale volunteered to get silent auction items for his special needs fundraiser. And, yes, many others gave referrals.
The question for your brain is: how can I MOST add value to this person? If you think they want business from you, do your best to open doors. But probably more often than you think, the answers vary dramatically and that’s good. Lastly, the most impactful ideas are unexpected and personalised.
- They possess all of the following character traits:
a) Hunger to learn and awareness that ‘knowing’ something means NOTHING unless it’s turned into action. How driven are you to fulfill your potential on this one journey on earth?
b) Coachability: While top referral getters are flawed human beings too, they ARE generally:
- Open to constructive criticism
- Willing to do some things differently
- Willing to shift limiting thinking to more empowering mindsets
- Willing to be held accountable
c) Confidence in their abilities: this doesn’t have to be concrete from the start or 100%. They might take a leap of faith at first but ‘more or less’ believe they can come through.
d) Willingness to persist long enough at something different until the results come – not the attitude of ‘I’ll give it a whirl but drop it if I get a whiff of failure.’ (This also means having enough faith that the information source is credible.)
e) Willingness to have a few conversations outside their comfort zone because that’s where they grow professionally and that’s where most of the fruit is.
For more information on Robert Cialdini, go to: www.influenceatwork.com
Author: Matt Anderson, The Referral Authority, Author of Fearless Referrals