We are often asked in Clients By Referral®, “Should I be talking to clients about referring people similar to them?”. In fact, this may well be the top question we are asked. In this article, let’s consider this problem.
Do birds of a feather?
Professionals often say to a client, “We are looking for more clients just like you”. They probably figure that “birds of a feather flock together”, so why not play the odds. We haven’t found any statistical evidence about whether this is true or not. Whether Doctors are more likely to be friends with Doctors more than anyone else is uncertain, but it is safe to say that people other than Doctors can know Doctors!
You never know who someone went to school with, is neighbours with, has an in-laws, was involved with in a previous career, spends time with at training or has a past shared experience with. On that basis, it may well pay to seek out referrals from clients about people who may be quite different from them. Soccer Mums refer CEOs and vice-versa all the time.
Who are my friends anyway?
Besides, if your “similar person to you” is based on a career or industry, you may find that your client “knows” people in that industry but isn’t necessarily great friends with them. The strongest referrals tend to happen within family and friends circles…where a great difference in demographics may exist. Referrals to colleagues based on industry lines may end up with the weakest, half-hearted referrals.
If you consider that a client is most likely to refer someone like them anyway, why not educate them about a totally different type of referral so you widen the scope of referrals they are looking for?
Who am I for that matter?
Finally, asking a client to refer someone “just like them” is still asking the client to understand what that phrase means – industry, personality, family situation, life experience, health status? So even if you do want “more of the same” from that client, don’t assume they know what to look forward. Take the time to educate them about what you mean – what about them makes them a great client for you?
In summary, we really don’t see any strong case to be focused on “like for like” referrals with clients. Talking with a client about someone like them or someone totally different (“We help people like you, but you may not realise that we also help people who are…”) both seem like useful strategies. So our recommendation is to mix it up. Sometimes talk with a client about referrals to other people like them, but equally mix it up with different types of possible referrals. You never know who your client may know…