Top-Shelf Tip No. 10: 

"In sales, a referral is the key to the door of resistance."
Bo Bennett

Key Points To Remember When Asking For Referrals

Do you feel comfortable asking for referrals? Or do you tend to shy away from the task, feeling a bit embarrassed? Many salespeople are hesitant to ask for referrals. They often don't know how to ask for one or they don't want to appear pushy, aggressive or overstep any boundaries. To some salespeople, asking for a referral is akin to begging or asking for a favor. It makes them uncomfortable, so they avoid it altogether.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, Joanne Black, author, speaker, LinkedIn Learning Instructor and founder of No More Cold Calling®, points out some critical things to remember when asking for referrals. 

You must nurture your relationships. Whether you're asking for a favor or asking for referrals, it's imperative that you have a relationship with the person you're asking. It takes time to build a solid relationship. This is why it's more important than ever to bring value and demonstrate your trustworthiness right from the beginning. People are often skeptical and don't immediately default to trusting their new connections. This means that salespeople must earn client trust and nurture those relationships over time. Black adds that salespeople must also deliver on trustworthiness every single day. 

When your clients trust you, they not only return for more and bigger deals, but they also become your loyal cheerleaders and advocates. They won't hesitate to spread word of your value within their own network of colleagues and friends. Once you master how to ask for a referral, you can obtain leads without cold calling. Relationships built on trust give you an edge over your competitors. Your prospects won't waste the time shopping around if they know they can trust you. 

You must earn the right to ask. Business referrals are one of the best ways to obtain leads. However, you can't ask for them right away. Referrals must be earned. You wouldn't ask someone you just met at a tradeshow, someone you cold called or someone you connected with on social media to provide a referral. Instead, tap into your most powerful referral source - your clients who like and trust you. When you take the time and build up the courage to ask them, they'll refer you. But you must ask. Just because you have helped them with important work, saved them money or boosted their revenue doesn't mean they'll immediately think to refer you. They have a business and a career to run, just like you. So, clue them in and ask for a referral. 

Instead of getting distracted or feeling embarrassed about asking for a referral, approach your contacts confidently. Rather than viewing referrals as a favor, remember that everyone stands to benefit with referrals. You get leads, your prospect gets your expertise and your referral sources gains a reputation as someone with a network of experts. Make a point to rewire your brain when it comes to thinking about referrals and you'll exponentially expand your pool of leads. After all, it's not what you know, but who you know. 

Source: Joanne Black is an author, speaker, LinkedIn Learning Instructor and founder of No More Cold Calling®. Her sales, management and training experience spans decades and crosses multiple industries.