Thursday, June 09, 2011

Referral Marketing: Get Your ASK in Gear!

Do you hate to ask for referrals?

If so, you're actually in the norm. Many people feel that asking for a referral is an imposition. They feel nervous that the other person will think that they are asking out of desperation. They feel awkward putting the focus on themselves.

Asking for referrals is a natural part of doing business. It can be done well and it can be done poorly. There's a right time and a wrong time to ask for the referral. There are people you should ask and others you should not ask. This is partly why so many people struggle with asking for referrals. They don't know WHO to ask, so they just ask anyone and everyone. They don't know WHEN to ask, so they ask at the wrong time. And they've never been taught HOW to ask, so it comes out all wrong and feels uncomfortable. And if you're a normal human being ... you would avoid discomfort at all cost! Hence where you are right now ... your ASK not in gear.

Consider WHO to ask carefully and base it on the strength of the relationship. For now, let's just focus on client referrals. Ask clients who know you well, like you a lot and trust you 100%. It's easy for them to talk about you. It's comfortable for them to refer you since they believe in you. They would go out of their way to help a friend like you. You might be thinking ... "this is every client". Is it really?

Here's the caveat. Keep in mind that simply completing good work for a client doesn't necessarily produce the right conditions for asking for a referral, contrary to what most people believe. Have you built an authentic giving relationship with that client or have you treated them like a transaction? Referrals are a natural bi-product of a solid relationship. Transactions produce little more than waste. Have you brought that relationship additional value far beyond what you did for them as a client? Does the client see you as a valuable resource that they can't live without? Have you taken a genuine interest in wanting to serve their needs and help them be successful? Have you referred business to them? Have you invited them to go to networking events with you so that you could help them gain visibility and exposure?

You see, serving our clients through our profession is the expectation. Serving our relationships by bringing more value positions us to then ask for something in return. If we don't bring enough value to the relationship, we feel uncomfortable.

The bottom line is simple ... get your ASK in gear! Give more of yourself to your clients before you ask for referrals. Ask only those who know you best and those you've given a lot to. Ask when the relationship is mature. Ask in a way that helps the other person bring your value to others.

There's a lot more on this topic for future posts ... stay tuned!