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How To Ask For Client & Customer Referrals---(& How To Overcome Referral Objections)

Aug 17, 2007
A big question I am asked each month from professionals I work with interested in increasing their client and customer referrals(realtors, financial advisors, attorneys, CPAs, bankers, etc.) is this: "When I discuss referrals, how do I overcome referral objections?"

Essentially, this is an age-old sales dilemma grounded in one thing: fear. And the "fear," in this case, is on both sides of the equation:

Equation #1: I am afraid (fearful) to ask the client or customer for a referral.

Equation #2: The client or customer I am *asking* for a referral is afraid (or fearful) to discuss the subject with me.

I want to be clear: The client or customer you're asking for a referral is NOT telling you WHY they are afraid. It is often well below the surface. The key to this lies in discovering why the other person is fearful to begin with. And there are three (3) ways you go about doing this.

1. First, eliminate the other person's fear by adding more information. If they object to your comment about referrals, you may start by saying something like: "John, I'm glad to hear you say that. I know exactly what you mean," or "Thank you for bringing that up; it's a good point."

Another way is to use the "3-F" format: Feel, Felt, Found.

Practical example:

"John, I know how you *feel* about providing referrals. I've *found* the same to be true in my business, in that I never give referrals until I understand all the work someone has done for me. I've also *felt* that once I've gotten all of that information, I'm happy to refer business. Is that what you really meant??"

Tip: At this stage, you must go slow, slow, slow--- present the information that dispels the person's perceived problem in granting you a referral. Be careful, and go slow.

2. Treat the referrers' objection as an "objective." Legendary sales master Zig Ziglar once said that a person's objection to anything in life is simply their *objective.* It's nothing more than them trying to accomplish something they are not telling you about!

For example, a CPA or attorney is not objecting to referring one of their highly valued, affluent clients to you--- they just have a certain "objective" before granting you the introduction. Do you know what that "objective" is? Remember: objection equals objective.

3. Probe to see if their voiced objection is the only one they REALLY have. In most cases it is NOT. So work towards confirmation and reinforcement. For example, confirm and get reinforcement onto the table.

Practical example: "That's a good point to consider John. Your question is whether this is the smart thing to do right now, isn't it?"

When the person replies yes, begin to ask for reinforcement: "Well, you do like the program, don't you?"

You need reinforcement from the referrer.

Remember: Every instance is different. And every person is different, as is their communication style. Discover the nature of a person's resistance. If the conversation becomes heavy or tense--- back off.

Don't ruin your chances for referrals later by exploring too hard now. But get exploring!
About the Author
Daryl T. Logullo is the Founder of Strategic Impact! and Marketing-Referrals-Tools.com He concentrates on referral building strategies for today's professional. Get "The Most Powerful Referral 'Secret' Ever Discovered," instantly delivered at http://www.strategic-impact.com/Rule3.
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