Unlimited referrals without asking

By Brian Ross

Transamerica Agency Network

There is one key to getting an unlimited supply of referrals. Understand this key principal to have your clients begging to give you referrals. In fact, your clients and customers will go out of their way to tell everyone they know why they should do business with you.

You don’t have to be in sales very long to discover that referrals are the key to a never ending stream of prospects and great wealth. The problem is that in most cases, salespeople are not very good at getting referrals.

My experience in working with and training salespeople for more than 20 years has led me to identify two reasons salespeople struggle with referrals:
    1. They don’t like to ask for them.

    2. The client is not compelled or impressed enough to give them.
There is one key to getting an unlimited supply of referrals. Understand this key principal to have your clients begging to give you referrals. In fact, your clients and customers will go out of their way to tell everyone they know why they should do business with you.

If you understand and practice this key principal you will never have to ask for a referral again. Your clients and prospects will give you unsolicited recommendations and referrals.

So what is the key to unlimited referrals? The key is giving your client a wow experience. A wow experience is an experience where service is beyond good — beyond great. It makes the customer or client say, “Wow!”

It is client service that will create the most value for your dollar and will drive customers to your business. It is an experience that will turn customers and clients into your own personal advertising executives.

Allow me to share an example of a wow experience I had about five years ago. In October 2005, my wife and I were going on a cruise for our second anniversary. Our anniversary was the day before we left for the cruise and I wanted to plan a nice dinner that night. I got online and found a restaurant called Christini’s in Orlando. It had good reviews and seemed like a great place to have our anniversary dinner. I called the restaurant and made a reservation. The hostess pleasantly took my reservation, and before we finished she inquired if this dinner was a special occasion. I told her it would be an anniversary dinner. She thanked me, and I hung up thinking nothing about it.

Our reservations were for 7 p.m.; we arrived around 6:45 p.m. We were greeted warmly, and I told her our name. She said, “Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Ross. Happy anniversary! We will have your table ready in a few minutes.”
After a couple of minutes a man said, “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Ross. We know this is a very special night for you. We have a table ready, but if you will give us just a few more minutes we will give you the best table in the house. Please have a seat at the bar while we get your table ready.” That sounded nice, so we agreed and went to the bar.

The bartender was making an incredible-looking drink for someone when we arrived at the bar, and I asked him what he was making. He said it was raspberry champagne, and it was very rich and very expensive. We laughed and continued with our drinks.

A few minutes later we noticed that he was making two more glasses of raspberry champagne. He brought them to us! He said the owner wanted to buy us a drink for our anniversary and asked what we were drinking. He told the owner he thought we would like a raspberry champagne. As we sipped, the accordion player stopped by our table, called us by name, wished us happy anniversary, said he would love to play a song for us and asked what we would like to hear.

At this point, I think you are starting to get a feel for what constitutes a wow experience. Our experience was just getting started.

That night, every waiter, every assistant and even the hostess knew it was our anniversary. They all mentioned it to us and made us feel like celebrities for the evening. We had a wonderful meal and a great dessert — complete with a candle when it was delivered.

Christini’s definitely gave us the wow experience that night. The servers didn’t get an 18 percent gratuity or a 20 percent gratuity; we gave them a 30 percent gratuity. Why? Because it was a wow experience. But more importantly, I have become one of their biggest fans and references since that experience. I have told hundreds of people about Christini’s, and I have given their address and phone number to friends traveling to Orlando.

Here are the lessons to be learned from Christini’s and the wow experience:

1. A wow experience begins with caring for and wanting to understand your customer. They asked if it was a special occasion. Make sure you understand your customer. Recognize their birthdays, their anniversaries and other special occasions in their lives.

2. Clients want to feel special and appreciated. They gave us the best table in the house. Give your client the celebrity treatment.

3. Clients love to hear their own name. It signifies that you know them. Everyone that came in contact with us used our name. Make sure your staff knows and uses your client’s name when they come to your office. Put their name on a marquee in the entrance to your office.
4. Your entire staff must be onboard to produce a wow experience. Everyone from the hostess to the bartender and waiters participated in our wow experience. If one of them had dropped the ball the experience would have been lost. Ensure that everyone on your staff is aware and active in delivering the wow experience.

5. Clients appreciate receiving unexpected value. The complimentary raspberry champagne was a special surprise. Instead of offering your client coffee, offer a menu of drinks from which they may choose when they visit your office. I know one financial planning firm that provides valet parking for their clients — and detail the client’s car while they are in the office. Be creative, and identify products or services that will be of value.

6. Your clients will pay more for the wow experience. We gave a 30 percent tip on a $200 dinner because of the experience. Focus on providing the best experience possible and the long-term returns will naturally occur.

7. Clients talk. Clients you wow become your partner in business and want you to succeed. I still tell everyone about our experience at Christini’s five years ago. It made an impression on me. Clients want to tell the story about being treated like a celebrity. Give them a reason to talk positively.

Learning how to give a wow experience will give you a quantum increase in income. A wow experience might help you secure a promotion, double your income or explode your profits. A small restaurant in Orlando gave me a wow experience five years ago, and I am still talking about it today and compelled to share it in this forum. That’s the kind of reference we’re all looking for.