Ask for Referrals Without Seeming Pushy

When was the last time you asked one of your satisfied clients for a referral? Buyers trust what their friends say – and that’s why referrals are the absolute best way to grow your business. But many people don’t ever ask clients to recommend them to their friends or colleagues. They worry that it’s too pushy–or seems desperate. Asking for a referral doesn’t have to be a shakedown, however.

Here are five good ways to ask:

1.    Ask upfront. One of the best ways to avoid any surprise or discomfort is to let your client know early on – even in your initial proposal – that if he feels good about the work you’ve done together, you’d like to ask if there are other friends or colleagues he thinks you should meet. Almost no one will say no, because it’s a hypothetical at that point (and one that presumably incentivizes you to do good work). Once you’ve delivered, he’ll be more likely to respond favorably when you come back to follow up – after all, he made a commitment.

2.    Frame it as a favor. Social psychology researchers like Robert Cialdini have shown that one of the best ways to get people on your side – unexpectedly – is to ask them to do you a favor. Your request makes them feel powerful – and once they’ve agreed, they’re invested in you and your success. So next time, you could say, “Frank, let me ask you a favor. The way I grow my business is through referrals, and I’d really appreciate it if you’d be willing to suggest other companies you think could benefit from my services. What do you think?” You’re likely to get a yes.

3.    Use a soft touch. You don’t have to go high-pressure. You can simply plant the seed with low-key phrasing. (”If there’s anyone you know with a similar situation, I’d really appreciate it if you’d mention our company.”) Sometimes a gentle reminder is all people need – and you don’t have to wait for your next in-person meeting. The important thing is making the ask, so feel free to get started by sending an email or bringing it up during a phone chat.

For the complete article, visit BNET.

Dorie Clark is CEO of Clark Strategic Communications and the author of Reinventing You. She is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, the National Park Service, and Yale University. Listen to her podcasts or follow her on Twitter.