How Can I Ask For Referrals Without Burning Out My Relationships?

The number one objection I have continued to deal with throughout the entirety of my career as a #referral coach/trainer is: 

“I don’t want to burn out my clients by asking for referrals too often!”

This is only a valid objection if (a) you have no plan and (b) you have never been exposed to strategic referral systems.

Let’s break it down.

Your clients (and you) dread the ‘referral talk’ because you aren’t doing your job.  That’s right…YOU aren’t doing YOUR job.  I see this all the time with #financialadvisors, #financialplanners and #smallbusinessowners.

Here is why:

  1. You are the person being paid when you get referred new clients therefore you are the person that should be doing the vast majority of the work…wouldn’t you agree?
  2. When you ask for referrals in a vague and/or massively general manner you are making your client/referral partner do all the work.  Have you ever said “Who do you think would be a great client for me?!?” to one of your clients?  If so, slap your hand and never do it again.  Why should they do your job?
  3. This vagueness and obligation for your client to figure out what YOU want and WHO you would like to be introduced to is extremely uncomfortable for you and your clients.  This introduces unnecessary friction to a good relationship and will eventually threaten your retention.
  4. Any referral training that teaches you to do this sucks.  They don’t really know what #sales is and how professional sales people help their clients to enjoy the referral process.

I hope that made sense to you.  Now, if you are so scared of getting referrals that you never want to do anything strategic, do the above strategy no more than a year and pray that you get some surprise referrals. 

If you want to get more referrals and you want them to be consistent, or, dare I say predictable…keep reading.

We want our clients to refer to us consistently and often.  The uncomfortable tactic from above of putting all the work and risk upon them is why they sometimes (even though they love you) don’t do so.  Instead, let's be professionals and follow a system.  Below is a simple version of what I work with my clients on.

How to ask more frequently for referrals and make it easy and comfortable for your clients and referral sources.

Step 1:  Specific is terrific.  

Mike Carlone from Blueprint Investment Partners is a good friend and referral partner of mine.  We both focus on independent financial advisors, are former advisors ourselves and are, to be conservative, high energy people that obsess about taking care of relationships.  Mike, yesterday, asked me in a direct message if I personally knew a connection of mine.  The connection is very new and I told Mike straight up that I didn’t know him well at all. 

Here is what Mike did perfectly:

  • Mike asked me about a specific relationship by name.  It took me a millisecond to figure out who and how I knew that person. He valued my time and made it easy.
  • Since it was so specific I felt completely comfortable telling Mike the complete truth (that I didn’t know them well at all) and it took one sentence (5 words) for me to type back a response during a busy day.
  • Now that Mike knew that I wasn’t a good introduction source for that person we moved back into our regular lives.  

Step 2:  Once you know WHO you are wanting to meet, HOW to get introduced becomes relatively straightforward (if not simple).  

Take the above example, what if Mike was asking to meet one of my clients that I know really well? 

Here is how it should work:

  • Since Mike was asking me about a client, I would answer that I knew the person really well.  Note:  Mike didn’t ask me for an introduction or referral initially…he asked how well I knew the exact person he was looking to meet.
  • The next question Mike would have asked me (we have done this many times) would have been focused on what he was hoping to achieve (introduction) and what would I be comfortable doing.  HOW gets so easy when we are talking about individuals.
  • My response would have dictated to him my comfort level around introducing him, probably asked some clarification on why it was in my clients best interest to meet Mike and what would be some very safe and low risk ways to get them together.

These are the types of ‘referral’ conversations you can have frequently with clients because they are simple, direct and very easy. 

We think that by being general and vague that we are being safer when the actual truth is the complete opposite.

Professionals are able to speak clearly and simply when making requests and, most importantly, they know that they are responsible for how comfortable and easy the process is for their clients and best referral sources.  They do the work, in advance through research and observation, to make their clients willing and excited to help them add clients just like them.

Be a professional.  Do the work ahead of time.  Be specific and ask after you know how well they know exactly who you are hoping to meet.

I hope this was valuable to you.  If it was, would you mind liking and commenting below and, if so inclined, sharing it to your network with an explanation of why it is worth their time?  I always have time for a quick call/zoom to see if I can help you and your business move from accidental to predictable referrals.  If you have any ?’s…please direct message me and I will do my best to help in any way I can.

Be Human, Be a Giver & Be Specific

Related: What Do I Do About ‘Bad’ Referrals?