By Michele Swetesich-Leon

The #1 reason people don’t ask for referrals is FEAR.  Just the thought of asking makes them nervous.  That little devil inside our heads starts talking smack.  What is your devil saying?  “They’ll probably say ‘NO’.  They’ll be annoyed if I ask.  They’ll think less of me or for asking.  They’ll think I’m needy”.   What it mainly boils down to is people feel they’re being selfish asking for referrals.  Again, that’s the devil talking.

The truth is you’re looking to help others with a solution to their problem.  That’s a positive thing.  A good deed!  Just remind yourself of that before you ask for the referral.

How To ASK In Person

When you’re speaking with a customer who’s expressing how pleased they are with your product or service it’s the ideal time to say “Thank you, that’s wonderful to hear!  I know how challenging it can be in our industry for consumers, based on the horror stories I hear”.

This will trigger them to agree, or perhaps share a horror story with you.  You now have a lead in to ask if they know others who may be in need of your product or service and they should feel free to pass along your name.  If they have someone specific in mind offer to contact them yourself.  This is one less thing on their to-do list as well as the prospect.

Another thing to keep in mind when a customer is telling you how pleased they are, is turning this into a testimonial referral.  Commonly testimonials are provided in writing, but using the scenario above you could say:

“Thank you for this wonderful feedback!  Would it be OK with you if I wrote down what you said?  I’d like to share your feedback with others so they may benefit from your experience.”

Is there really a difference if someone provides verbal praise versus written?  In my book, they are both testimonials.  How many times has someone verbally complimented you?  What did you do with that?  Next time consider this response:

“Thank you for your kind words.  May I quote you on that?”

As long as you say this light heartedly, how can they say no?  If I can do this, you CAN do this.

Another way of getting testimonials is through a questionnaire or survey.  I recommend sending these to your customers via snail mail (US mail service) or email.  In either case you’ll want this in your customer’s hands within a few days.  If you go the route of snail mail, the reply should be postage paid.  In my experience the response rate averaged 95%.  Specifically, I used pre-addressed postage paid post cards with 4-5 questions on the back.  The questions were a combination of 2-4 multiple choice and 1-2 fill in the blank.  The questions really depend on the information your wanting feedback on.  The key is to keep it simple and easy.  You don’t want to overwhelm them.

That being said, here are a couple of common questions that most of us want to know.

Question #1

Overall, how would you evaluate your satisfaction with the product/services you received?

□  Very Satisfied   □  Satisfied   □  Somewhat  □  Not At All

You notice I didn’t use a mumeric rating scale.  Why, you ask?  Because words provide a clearer answer.  Other than the highest and the lowest number who’s to say what the middle numbers truly means.  I can assume, but then what’s the point.

Question #2

Would you recommend our product/services to others?

□  Yes   □ No

You may be wondering why I phrased the question for a yes or no answer.  Honestly I believe that people are either going to refer you or not.

Remember, happy customers are happy to help you.  It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter how you ask for referrals just that you ask.  And yes, you may quote me on that!  In fact that’s a tweetable.

Tweet Ask for referrals

Next week I’ll go over how to ask for referrals online.  So check back next Wednesday afternoon for part three of “Ask and You Shall Receive”.