Many professionals often give the client the message that they don’t want any referrals. They don’t actually say the words “No thank-you, I don’t need referrals” and in fact they may actually be thinking the complete opposite! Yet they have communicated this message very effectively to the client anyway. There are a number of traps that the modern professional can fall into that leads clients to make this assumption.
Let’s think back to the last time a client asked you “How’s Business?”. What was your reply? Did you answer “Busy”, “We’re flat out” or “Thank god it’s Friday”?
Over the past twenty years the modern professional has had to make more decisions per day than at any time in history. We have so many new communication methods and it’s easy for a Professional to feel that their days are busier than ever. Somewhere along the way, we also created a widely held view that only very busy Professionals are successful ones. To portray an image of success the modern Professional constantly communicates how little time they have.
Now think of this view in the eyes and ears of the client. Your Professional arrives in a rush from the last meeting displaying the image of a busy Professional. The client inquires “How is business?” and they are told “We are absolutely snowed under at the moment”. A very typical view for a client…of a business that doesn’t seem to need any more referrals at all.
Busy does not equal successful
The real issue here is the image of capacity. If you fall into the trap of thinking that a successful Professional is best portrayed by the image of how busy you are you, then you are saying to the client that you are at or above your capacity for work.
From there, the logical deduction by the client is twofold.
First, if the client has a friend to refer then they may be thinking “If I refer my friend, will my Professional have the capacity to provide the same quality of service to them as I receive?”.
Second, the client may also start to think “If I do refer my friend, will I receive the same quality service as they seem to be at capacity and this could be the straw that broke the camel’s back”.
Either way we are placing obstacles in the path of referrals.
Success looks like control
Modern politicians get plenty wrong but one thing most of them do very well is portray the image of capacity that they are not rushed and in control. If we see a public figure rushed or flustered then the takeaway is that they are under a lot of pressure, that they don’t have time and might not be up to the job.
So the next time you hear a client say “How is business?” pause and think about portraying the image of a successful Professional – organised, in control, managing their capacity. A reply that works well for me is “Business is good. I have recently received a couple of client referrals which is exciting and I am very much looking forward to working with some new clients”.