One of the most common questions that comes up in my Facebook group is how to ask your current clients to refer their friends and colleagues to you.
While I think it’s critically important not to rely on referrals for growth, there’s no doubt that referrals can be one of the best sources of ideal, perfect-for-you clients.
So, what is the best way to encourage quality referrals and make sure they become high-paying ideal clients?
The Problem with Referral Programs
Right off, let me say that I do not recommend publicizing a referral program with rewards and incentives, such as offering gift cards to clients who refer people to you. Here’s why.
We don’t just want more clients… We want more ideal clients who are profitable, easy to work with, and understand the value of expert advice.
Offering bonuses for clients to refer people to you is just asking them to send you everyone they can think of, which isn’t a great way to get highly-targeted ideal prospects.
If you were selling a product or a commodity, this might be a great idea. You’d want to sell as many as possible, and it wouldn’t matter much who bought them.
But in a service-based business like ours, you have to interact with your clients on a daily basis. You want your clients to refer people who are the best possible fit for your firm.
So how do you get THOSE referrals?
How to Ask for Referrals
In my experience, successfully asking your current clients for referrals is largely a matter of timing.
When you get a big win for a client, that’s the time to ask. If a client is singing your praises because they are thrilled with the results you just got for them, they are primed to send their family, friends, and colleagues your way.
When the opportunity arises, don’t just ask for “referrals.” Be super specific…
Towards the end of your call say something like:
“Hey, while I’ve got you on the phone, I’m currently accepting new clients. Can you think of 2 people who might be interested in talking with me to see if I can help them? No obligations whatsoever. I just want to see if I can help.”
Try to get contact information – name, phone number, and email address – so you can follow up with these prospects.
If your client says “no,” it’s not a big deal. But if you’re getting exceptional results for your clients, you should have plenty who would love to help you and help the people they know at the same time.
As you dial in your niche and get really specific, make sure your clients know exactly what kind of clients you’re looking for. It’s likely that they have people in their network who have businesses very similar to their own. They just need to know what you want.
How to Reward Your Clients for Sending Referrals Your Way
If and when these referrals become clients, send your referring client a handwritten thank you note and a nicer bottle of wine. It doesn’t have to be anything super fancy. You can find plenty of great bottles in the $15-25 price range.
This will be a total surprise since you don’t publicize a referral bonus, and it has a really personal feel. People love it. And they’ll send you more clients so they can get more free wine. 🙂
If you have a client you know doesn’t drink, just get creative. The more personal, the better.
Leveraging Referrals to Multiply Firm Growth
The point is to get wins for your clients, ask for referrals in very specific terms, and show sincere appreciation when one of your great clients connects you with someone who is a great fit.
If you do this, you’ll develop referral partners who are glad to send people in their network your way. You will have a referral machine that multiplies your income and influence on autopilot.
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