#043: How to Get More and Better Referrals

Wouldn’t it be great to have most of your business come to YOU?

Referrals and word of mouth sure beat having to chase every opportunity on your own. Unfortunately, they don’t just happen­ — you have to make them happen.

In this episode I share some practical ideas to getting more referral business — and how to do it in a way that feels right and becomes habitual.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or on Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Basic Principles of Human Behavior
To understand how to get more referrals, you have to understand human behavior:

  • People give professional-service referrals for intrinsic reasons, not extrinsic reasons (monetary gain).
  • Extrinsic rewards (discounts on future work, finder’s fees, gift cards, etc.) don’t work. Dan Pink in Drive: Extrinsic rewards can actually discourage referrals.
  • Two main reasons why people don’t give referrals:

1. Their reputation is on the line.
2. They don’t know how you’re going to handle the referral.

Three Steps for Getting More and Better-Quality Referrals

Step #1: You have to ASK!

  • Most clients won’t decide to send work your way on their own.
  • You’re not going to lose clients by asking for referrals.

Step #2: Ask the right way

  • Ask for referrals when you’re praised. This is an underused opportunity!
  • Ask frequently. One of my listeners, Pam Hillard Owens of DetroitInkPublishing.com asks for referrals:
    • In her monthly newsletter
    • At the end of blog posts
    • By publishing success stories about how she’s helped clients in specific situations.
  • Ask in person or over the phone. Try to avoid email.
  • Ask with confidence! You’re not begging for business, you’re looking for people who need help in your area of expertise. Most of us discount our value because writing comes easily to us.
  • Position the request the right way:
    • “Most of my business comes from referrals…”
    • “A great part of my business comes from referrals…”
    • “My business depends on referrals…”

Bill Cates, Get More Referrals Now: “Don’t keep me a secret!”

  • Suggest specific categories, industries or situations where you can provide value.
  • Find creative opportunities to add value before asking for the referral.

Step #3: Create a referral expectation from the start

  • Set up an expectation: “I want to add value to you and your business. I hope I gain enough of your trust that you refer me to others.”
  • One way to communicate this:

“Most of my business comes via referrals. That’s because I deliver excellent work every time, on time, etc. Many of my clients refer me to others. I want you to know that once we’ve done a couple of projects together, if you’re thrilled, I’ll ask you for a referral…”

  • Some people only work via referral. If a prospect didn’t come through a referral, the chance of the prospect becoming a good client may be lower. (A Jay Abraham strategy.)

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Finally, if you have a question you’d potentially like answered on a future show —or if you’d like to be considered as a guest for a future episode — please let me know: ed at b2blauncher dot com.

Thanks again for your support!

Till next time,