On some things you just have to roll the dice and take your chances in life. Asking someone for a date….getting on a plane…or asking for referrals.
It doesn’t always work out of course, but as a great hockey player once said:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Depending on which reports you believe there is a proportion of the population who will never ever ever give you a referral, and that proportion is somewhere between 20% and 35% it seems. So no matter how good our technique, or how nice we are, or how deserving there is a fairly significant proportion of the world who just won’t give referrals. Ever.
BUT there is a similar proportion who will virtually always give referrals just because you asked (unless you are completely and utterly undeserving). Assuming that you are like most other professionals in that you are service-orientated, knowledgeable, pleasant, wear decent clothes and don’t smell awful, then a good proportion of humanity will give you referrals simply because you asked.
So why don’t advisers roll the dice more often and just make it a point of asking everyone for referrals at the appropriate time anyway?
About a quarter to a third of the time you are going to get leads, so why wouldn’t you ask?
Even if we don’t have an especially clever or polished way of asking there is a fair proportion who will provide favourable introductions anyway, so what do we have to lose? Those who say “no” are not rejecting you personally, they are rejecting the notion of referring anyone to anyone at all. It is not personal. Unless you smell awful, then it might be personal.
The key to not missing out on those opportunities is ensuring that asking, or at least alerting people to the fact that you would like to be referred, is part of your process. By simply including it in your interview process at some point and then using it every time you will generate some leads…and every one of them is potential gold.
Great preparation and skill will help in converting the 35-60% of the population who are maybe’s….the ones who may or may not give you referrals. In the next post I’ll discuss in detail the preparation and skills which help unlock those opportunities because they do make a massive difference to your level of success with word-of-mouth marketing, however I believe it is more important to ensure that our process includes positioning for and asking for referrals before we worry about great technique or being particularly clever.
You will never get referrals if you don’t ask, so play the odds…roll the dice…take your chances: you will win sometimes.