Help your clients be heroes by asking for referralsBlog added by Sandy Schussel on May 6, 2013
Sandy Schussel

Sandy Schussel

Princeton, NJ

Joined: December 10, 2011

My Company

Sandy Schussel, LLC

Financial advisors avoid it whenever they can. Coaches tremble at the thought of it. Lawyers pretend it's beneath them, so they won't have to do it. Even when I show them how to do it, they find ways to avoid it. What is this unthinkable task? Asking for referrals.

Why won't they ask? Either they’re afraid — "What if my client thinks less of me for asking?" or "What if she grabs back her retainer check and storms out of the room?" — or they just don't know that it's OK to ask or how to go about it comfortably.

What these professionals fail to understand is that there are reasons why their clients would want to refer them to others.

Years ago, in my past life as a lawyer, Police Captain Myron taught me about the “hero factor” in the referral process. Myron, who tipped the scale beyond the 300-pound line and was known to consume more than his fair share of alcohol, was at a party to which both he and I had been invited. At one point during the party, he threw one huge arm around both of my shoulders and announced to the room, “You see this guy? I brought him all his business!”

See also: Stop selling and start creating heroes, Pt. 1

It was true that Captain Myron had introduced me to several of my clients. I thought it wise not to argue that most of my business came from other sources. But what I came to understand that evening was how important it was to Captain Myron to be the champion of my practice — to be a hero. Here's how it works:

1. People generally like to help one another. If a client likes you and believes you add value to his businesses or to his life, helping you will make him feel generous and important. In other words, he can be a hero to you.

2. When your client is referring you to someone she cares about, it's an opportunity for her to show the people whose opinions matter to her that she makes wise decisions — decisions that could help them, too, if they followed her lead. In other words, she can be a hero to them.

3. Asking clients to refer you to the people in their lives also gives them something else they need — validation. They’re thinking things like: "If my sister uses your services, too, she must see in you what I saw." Then I know I made the right decision in going to you, after all. In other words, they can be heroes in their own right.

So, when you’re not asking clients to introduce you to those business associates, friends and family members whom you might be able to help (in the same way you’re already helping your clients), you’re depriving them of their opportunity to save the day.
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