One of the first things you learn in our Clients By Referral® training experience is that very, very few clients give referrals on-the-spot when they are asked. It isn’t because they don’t like referrals, but because of a whole host of practical reasons, including simple things like their inability to recall names at the drop of a hat or the pressure you are putting on them during the discussion.
While we teach you a more effective, repeatable, sustainable approach to client referrals, we are often still asked “Is there anything we can do – at all – to try and increase the chances of a client providing referrals sooner…possibly even straight away?”.
First, we should clarify that some clients can indeed provide referrals immediately! It’s definitely not impossible – in fact, it might be as much as 10% of your clients. So the very fact that you engage them in a discussion about referrals gives you at least a 10% chance of getting an immediate referrals.
Second, however, is that you can indeed take some steps to get more immediate referrals from clients. Your expectations should still be that you won’t get any referrals immediately – the higher your expectations, the more pressure you will inadvertently place on a client which only serves to worsen the situation. But there are some things you can do to improve your odds.
Slow the discussion down
Many Professionals rush the discussion about referrals with a client. If you go too fast then you don’t give your client enough time to think. Memory isn’t immediate. Ever walked out of a discussion and 10 minutes later finally thought of the answer to a question you were asked but couldn’t remember in the meeting? Slow down and let your client’s memory have time to consider what you are saying and activate.
Ask more questions
We teach Professionals a mixture of statements and questions when talking with a client about referrals. Questions help engage their client in the discussion, force them to activate their memory and slow down the process. They create more energy in the discussion and ensure the client has a chance to think. Simple questions like “Do you think you have come into contact with people in the past who could have used our services?” or “Did you realise that we were currently expanding the business or had room to grow?” are fine as a starting point.
Humans are very visually oriented creatures. Our memory is strongly activated by visuals. So use them in the discussion. Have a client handout (or something similar) to use in the discussion which specifically focuses on referrals and helps to jog a client’s memory about possible referrals. Visuals are also better remembered – so even if they don’t know an immediate referrals, they are more like to remember a possible referral in the future.