Two (2) Kinds of Referrals
If you’re providing an intangible service . . . one that depends more on your ability to solve problems for your clients than any product involved . . . you probably love getting referrals.
But there are two kinds! The first kind is the referral that happens when you get a call and you hear, “Hi, you don’t know me but I was talking with . . . and she suggested I give you a call”. Celebrate these. They indicate you’re doing a good job for people!! Just don’t count on them.
The second kind of referral is the kind you get by . . . ASKING for them.
This may be a better idea. It usually is. It’s certainly more controllable and predictable.
Still, most intangible service providers aren’t thrilled by this approach. They may lack the skill or, more likely, the courage to ask. Regardless, asking for referrals is highly problematic.
People who are your raving fans — and want to help you — may not know the kind of people who are your best clients. Or, if they do — like your satisfied clients — they may simply prefer to ‘keep you to themselves’ and NOT refer you to anyone they consider to be a competitor . . . of theirs!
Here’s a better alternative . . . invite referrals from other service providers who provide a complimentary, non-competitive service to the same kind of person you want as a client. True, this requires reciprocity for the other provider, of course. But it’s a win-win relationship.
People who ‘love’ you . . . may not know the people you want as clients. Or, they may have reasons NOT to refer them to you and, vice versa. But other providers who serve the same kind of client as you do are often receptive to referring clients when their expertise ends and yours begins. Build alliances with complimentary providers and your referrals will grow.