When I consider all of the practices in business that are most overlooked or neglected by sales professionals and entrepreneurs, GENERATING REFERRALS always comes to mind immediately. Boy, you want to talk about a critical aspect of building and maintaining ANY successful business, consistent referral generation is a must. Yet it astounds me how many people simply do not pay this the time and attention it deserves. It gets relegated as a secondary activity. As a result, there are TREMENDOUS amounts of potential, opportunity and money left on the table day after day after day. The first question that normally comes up when looking at this is “why do so many people, whose income, whose livelihood, whose results depend so heavily on generating referrals, treat is as a secondary activity?” In other words, what’s behind this bizarre phenomenon? I believe it is due to a few limiting beliefs most people carry around to one degree or another about what it means to ask for referrals. Some people believe it is presumptuous or even a bit rude to ask for referrals – as if you are crossing some imaginary line. Some folks are afraid they will damage the rapport or the friendly vibe they have with their client by asking. Others believe that asking for referrals will suggest they are struggling or that their clients, friends, whomever will lose respect for them. Have any of these feelings or beliefs ever come up for you? Do they come up for you now? I am here to tell you that if done respectfully and professionally, the complete and total opposite is actually true for each one of these beliefs. Just think about this for a moment. If you have done a great job for someone regarding the service or product you provide. If you know you provide a great service or product in general for anyone you work with, if you come from a place of integrity and caring for your clients, friends, peers associates. If you operate your affairs with integrity and you know that being referred to someone will be a gift to them, if you know that any human being has the right on their own fruition to answer either “yes” or “no” to such a simple question, why should it be rude to simply ask to be referred along? I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer to that question. Next and when you really get this and take it in it can be literally life changing and a total shift in paradigm. Assuming you are bringing to the table everything I have mentioned above, when you give people the opportunity to refer you, YOU ARE GIVING THEM A TREMENDOUS GIFT!!! You are allowing them to do something that is helping the people they care about, the people who trust and rely on them. Put yourself in that position for a moment. Don’t you enjoy bringing people together who can benefit from one another? It’s also a bit of a stroke to the ego for this individual as well. They get to display the fact that they are well connected and “know people.” Why would you deprive someone the gift of being in that position. I know I love giving referrals. So please, stop with that! Next, while you think asking for referrals might have people think you’re struggling or lose respect for you, I’d say it’s quite the opposite. At a certain point if you haven’t asked for referrals people begin to wonder why. It can very often betray a deep lack of confidence in yourself or your services or your feelings of worthiness. Most people, especially truly successful people, many of whom have created their own success from effective networking and referral generation will begin to wonder at a certain point “Why hasn’t __________ ever approached me for contacts or referrals? Is he (she) really serious about growing his (her) business?” So I’m here to tell you that you run the risk of losing respect and credibility if you DON’T ask for referrals! Others never seem to find the exact perfect time to do it or seem to magically forget to ask when those golden opportunities present themselves. For those of you who suffer from that affliction, I’m here to tell you that there is rarely an absolutely perfect time to do anything worthwhile – be it get married, buy a home, buy a car, start a business, get a check-up, start working out, you name it! But you do it because the bottom line is you are going to be better off for it. And as far as the golden opportunities are concerned, if you have just done a good job or provided a valuable service to someone and you do NOT ask for some type of referral at that moment, there is a good chance you are leaving some serious opportunities on the table right then and there. Make referrals a part of everything you do, as a part of your “way of being” – not this separate activity you’ll get to when you’re ready. Plant the seeds early on: “And I ask that when I do a great job for you here, you refer me to at least 5 people who can benefit from my service. Fair enough?” Heck, ask for referrals before you even get started: “Look, before we get started and focused on the process, who else do you know who could benefit from what I’m doing?” The worst they could say is “no” or “not yet, let me see how good of a job you do first.” Nothing lost. An important distinction to make: Notice in the question above, I didn’t ask “Do you know anyone…?” I asked “Who do you know?” It was an open ended question, not a closed (yes or no) type question. Because an open ended question assumes they already know people, you just want them to mention their names. A closed ended question can inject doubt as to whether or not they actually know someone who is right for you. So please, please, PLEASE – just ask for referrals. Okay? It will change your life. If you’d like to learn or be coached on how to specifically dialogue about referrals from start to finish with any human being in a way that makes it virtually impossible for them to say no, in a polite, respectful and courteous way, please contact our office and we can connect you with a Sales Coach who will show you how. And my last question for you is – who do you know who could benefit from the services we provide at Communication Mastery? If anyone comes to mind, please send them our way. We’re changing lives over here! ? Yours In Success, Mitch Harris President Communication Mastery