When we ask for referrals, why is it that many times we do not get any introductions?  We all have happy clients or customers that are always ready with a remark on how much they love your products or service.  And when we ask them if they would be willing to refer you to other people they do not hesitate to say yes. Instead, they are more likely to say “I can’t think of anyone right now.  I will have to get back to you” And, of course, they generally do not.

To understand why this happens, think for a moment about the process you go through when someone asks you for a referral.  First, you need to think about what that person does.  Then, you need to think about who they do it to.  Then, you need to go through your entire database of contacts in your mind and try and recall any conversations you have had with these people related to the person’s business, recollect the conversation and try and decide if they would be a good referral or not.  Meanwhile the person is standing there waiting for a response so you are supposed to do this in a matter of seconds.  This is a lot of pressure so we try to alleviate the pressure by asking for more time.  And then, when the pressure is off, we forget about it or just get to busy taking care of our other responsibilities.

To increase the production and quality of the referrals you get you need to help the source through the process.  Here’s how it works:

Remind them of what you do – Remind them of the situation they were in when you first met them.  Did you help them out of a situation?  If they are happy with your product or service there must be a perceived value to doing business with you and not your competitors.  How do they recognize and quantify that value?

Remind them of who you do it to – Make sure they know who a good referral is for you.  If you are in a business to business industry, let them know what industries, types of businesses, and what size companies you like to deal with.  If you are in a business to consumer market, let them know who you would like to come in contact with.

Help them process the data – If your referral partner does not come up with ideas of people who may be prospects for you when you ask, help them out.  Make some suggestions of where they may find them.  Ask about associations they may belong to, clients they may have, and people in networking groups they participate in.  These are just a few ideas of where they may find them.  

Research the reasons why – When they do come up with a suggestion, make sure you ask them why they think they may be a good prospect for you.  Many times we are so happy we got one we forget to mine the referral source for very important information they have about what is going on with the prospect.