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How To Ask For Referrals That Will Make You Flush With New Clients

Being shy with prospective clients...

There’s a very costly problem that has permeated our business culture.

It costs all of us both time and money.

That problem is shyness.

Now, you might be thinking “Hang on a minute, I’ll talk to ANYONE. I’d pitch Mark Cuban if he were here. I am NOT shy.”

And that’s all good, and I believe you. But there’s a mountain of difference between talking and talking with clear intention.

As our tools for communicating have grown, our tendency to make the most of each encounter has diminished.

This is the shyness I'm talking about.

Somewhere buried in those great conversations with prospects, the ones you walked away from thinking “Wow, I am on FIRE!” is you ignoring that shyness.

Instead, you had the confidence and mindset to go for it. You were clear, direct and bold. 

You felt like a super hero...

Learning how to ask for referrals the hard way...

Consider my friend James who sells insurance.

He started as a claims adjuster and worked his way up to being a broker. With his personality it was only natural.

The guy makes friends everywhere. He’s funny, full of energy but humble. He compliments everyone. He just makes you feel good about yourself, and about life.

But for years James struggled to get new clients. He built up a decent book of business with family, friends and people he knew. A lot of his clients just fell in his lap through his existing network.

But he couldn’t figure out how to break through and grow his business.

He did some advertising but that wasn’t well suited for his business. He tried with more of his peripheral friend group but realized they weren’t as easy to sell to as he’d hoped. He would ask all these people if they might know someone they could refer, but nothing came of that either.

After some years of this the future was looking bleak and James was thinking of hanging up his business to get a “normal job”. 

Then a very fortunate conversation occurred.

As James was talking to an old client about moving on from the business,  his old client asked him...

“How come you’ve never mentioned anything to me about referrals? I know a bunch of people that I’m sure you’d hit it off with from my real estate days. I just sent Marty a couple finance-related referrals last week. He’s always reminding me, but it’s great because I get a nice fee for any of them that end up as his clients. Have you ever really learned how to ask for referrals?”.

As James was telling me this story he said he was infuriated by this question. He HAD mentioned it! He HAD brought it up! He HAD inquired! He KNOWS how to ask for referrals.

But then it all became so obvious. He did not know. He had not been clear. He had not been direct. He had not been bold.

And what’s worse, is that he realized he had not been clear, direct or bold about referrals with anyone. Ever.


Referral Programs = Referral Sources = Referrals

James decided right away that he was going to start his own referral program and invite everyone he knew to participate. He was going to be very blunt about what he wanted from them, how they could benefit, and what they would need to do if they were interested in participating. Then he went to work. 

Fast-forward 10 months later and James has hired 2 new full-time employees to handle all of his new business. He has literally dozens of people sending him referrals on a monthly basis.

I asked him if I could use his story for this article and asked him to explain what he’s doing differently now.

“I prime my referral sources by inviting them to participate in my referral program. I’m very explicit about how they will benefit and what they need to do. I always figured people would just send business my way because of the relationship I had with them. I couldn’t have been more wrong.” 

I’m so happy to be able to share this story because it aligns perfectly with what we do at Referral Program Pros - providing a platform to run your referral program with intention. Now, James got there on his own, but he set up his referral program using the same method we use at RPP:

  1. Create offers specific to your unique business model and outline the benefits (be clear)
  2. Invite your referral sources to participate (be direct)
  3. Send your offers and motivate your referral sources (be bold)


Run a test to get more clients

I highly encourage you to set up a referral program if you don’t have one already. Or perhaps you do have one but maybe it could use some tweaks or refreshing. 

Don’t take it from me though. Run a simple test and see for yourself.

Set up what your referral program might look like in your head.

What would your offer and reward be?

How will you communicate this offer and reward to potential referral sources?

What do they need to do to get the offer in the right hands and reap the reward?

Who type of people make up your prospective clients?

How will you follow up and remind them? 

Think this stuff through. Then, text time you’re in front of someone that you know could send you referrals, talk to them about your “referral program”.

You’ll be surprised by the response you get when people can see what’s in it for them and how they can clearly get there. 


Take Action

To be clear, this isn’t anything new. It’s not revolutionary. But it is what separates the mildly successful from the uber-successful. 

I hope this message helps grow your business. And I think you'll be astonished by how many people out there would be thrilled to help you grow (just make sure you take care of them!). 

Want more tips on referral marketing?

Follow me on LinkedIn!

Want more clients?

Start your own referral campaign! 

Check out an example here...


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