When I ask salespeople if they consistently ask their current clients for referrals, uniformly, the answer is either “no” or “sometimes.” Practically every one of us neglects to leverage our most valuable asset—our current clients.
Your Current Clients Pack Punch
Think how powerful it could be to mine this valuable resource for more business. Clients are thrilled to refer us—if only we’d ask. Why? They really want to help those they appreciate, like, and trust. We just need to ask. If we don’t ask, we don’t get.
Would you pick up the phone to refer your database software to a colleague if you weren’t asked for this specific help? Maybe, maybe not. It’s pure chance. In business and in life, I don’t rely on chance. I only count on what I can bring about.
Make Referrals Happen: Ask
Most of us think that our clients will automatically refer us. But our clients don’t spend their days worrying about how to grow our businesses. They are focused on their own businesses, challenges, and families. Like us, they are preoccupied with the hundred action items on their desks, in their email inboxes, and on their voicemail.
We also assume that if we’ve received terrific reviews and delivered measurable results for our clients, that they will refer us. If they need us, they call us, but we’re not top of mind for them.. Some clients may even fear that if they refer us, we will have less time to dedicate to their projects. It’s as though we’re that great little restaurant that they don’t want to become too popular.
We might also appear to be too busy for new business. Some people assume that appearing to be incredibly busy with client work sends the message that they are successful, which will in turn attract new business. But if we appear overwhelmed, who would feel as if they’re going to get our best work? A better message is “I’m busy with some great projects, but I’m always looking for a few terrific new clients.”
Dramatic and Surprising Survey Results
In a survey of its best clients, a major brokerage firm asked: “Would you be willing to refer your stock broker?” The survey was returned with a whopping 84 percent “yes.”
The firm asked brokers: “What percent of the time are you asking your clients for referrals?” Ready for the answer? Only 15 percent.
Don’t Leave Money on the Table
Their clients were absolutely willing to refer them, but the brokers were not asking. You can easily see what a fabulous opportunity had been overlooked. Those referrals could easily have generated millions of dollars in revenue for the firm, if they’d been maximized. Think about how much money they were leaving on the table.
Never overlook your current clients, and don’t expect that they will refer you on their own. Go back to them often to ensure that your solution for them is still working. Find out what more you can do for them. Gather successes and uncover opportunities to do better. Make them your champions.
Your current clients are your best source of referrals. They’re just waiting for you to ask.