Many people doubt the validity of getting referrals as an actual mix of their marketing. By accident, many people get referred by customers that love them. So let’s face it, referrals start by doing great service that people notice. In my thinking, if you can make something happen on accident, then you can make it happen on purpose.
As usual, the reason something doesn’t work is usually screwed up in the beginning not at the point the problem is apparent. Let me go over the most effective way to get referrals. The key to getting a hot referral is to let the customer know you need their help. We all want to help someone. Think about it, if your landscaper told you he needed help getting more business, if you loved his service, wouldn’t you tell everyone you knew?
You Need Help
This is the key principle: YOU NEED THEIR HELP. Let’s go over a common moment of truth scenario where someone asks you, “How’s business?”
AT ONE OF THE MOMENTS OF TRUTH… “How’s business been over at (YOUR COMPANY)?”
WHAT YOU NORMALLY SAY: “We are swamped. It’s so busy I had to put in 12 hours overtime.”
WHAT YOU SHOULD SAY IF YOU NEED HELP: “Well, it’s funny you should mention that. We were all just talking back at the shop about one our greatest challenges being finding and keeping great customers like you Fred. Hey Fred maybe you could help me. You’re a smart guy Fred. If you were me, what would you do to find great customers like yourself to work for?”
THEM: “Well I’ll bet my cousin Ernie could use your help.”
YOU: (Here’s a big question) “Really? How do you think he could benefit from our services?”
THEM: “Well, He told me that he was shopping for a new heating system last week.”
The key thing is that you need to find out WHY the person referring you thinks that you would be a fit. If you go in KNOWING why they might benefit, then it is really a hot referral. If not, then it becomes very difficult to probe for reasons why they might benefit.
When you DO probe, send out a reverse question and do not DIRECTLY ask for the business on cold or semi-warm calling leads. Here’s how that would sound…
“Hey Ernie, this is Joe over at Custom Comfort. I’m a good friend of Fred Johnson. Well, Fred was telling me that you might need our assistance with either doing maintenance or fixing a problem with your heating or air but I thought he was probably just exaggerating. You don’t want to get any maintenance on your HVAC system done do you?”
“Ernie if I had to guess, I would say you’re heating and cooling system works just perfect correct?”
“Ernie, Fred tells me that your home is absolutely dust free and that allergies are NOT a problem for you is he correct?”
Always frame you question with a negative outcome to reverse the selling process. Remember in our system you are NEVER selling anything. The customer must sell you. Ask a question with an answer that is opposite of what you want to hear and you will have either an agreement on something (Which keeps you on the phone a bit longer) or a disagreement such as this… “No, I have a huge problem with dust. My daughter has severe allergies!”
YOU: “What would you like me to do then?”
THEM: “Get over here and solve this problem.”
The referral IQ test is simple. When someone asks you how’s business?” How do you position yourself and what do you say? Do you ask for help? Or do you brag about how great you are supposedly doing? No one wants to help somebody who is already doing just fine. But if someone is struggling we can’t wait to help. Tell your customer that you need their help today. You might just get what you ask for.