The Best Way To Fail At Referrals


There are many theories about why so many people do not ask for referrals but when all is said and done there are only two reasons - people either do not know how (which is all about knowing the right techniques) or they simply don't want to (which is all about confidence issues).

One real key here is how we set and manage the initial goals involved with asking referrals.

For those with confidence, drive to improve their results and the attitude of “I will give that a go and make it succeed because it is good for me” then setting a challenging goal makes sense. These people take such a goal as a healthy challenge and will move mountains to achieve it – we should never hold such power and enthusiasm back.

These are usually the people that simply need the technique and they are in the starting blocks.

On the other hand there are those that know the theory but have real difficulty putting it into practice. If you don’t act then you may as well not know!

For this group (and this is the biggest group by far so you are not alone) we need to start with more conservative goals that make success an achievable thing. For this group an early failure will often result in them shelving the whole idea and going back to whatever they were doing before.

So set a small goal to start. Think of all the clients you have – just take a moment and think of them. If I said you need to talk to them the usual reaction is to think of the worst client you have and focus on the unpleasant prospect of asking that person for a referral.

But seriously, how many clients do you have like that? For every 100 clients would there be more than one or two? Probably less.

Great news! You don’t have to ask them! The wonderful thing about using referrals is that you get to choose exactly who you ask.

Why not focus on the type of client that you really enjoy dealing with? You know the ones – they love dealing with you as much as you do them. They appreciate the service you provide and value the product and expertise and don’t grizzle about the price. These are the sort of client you want more of right? So simply cross the other sort off your list.

Now could you find just one or two such clients out of one hundred? Just a coupe that you know well enough and have a great relationship with?

My suggestion is to start there, with just one or two really good clients that you feel totally safe with. The ones that you won’t damage any relationship with by asking.

If you do this you will find that the whole experience starts well and, as you grow in confidence and technique, you will soon be asking others more easily.

Should you aim high – ABSOLUTLY! But you don’t have to do it all in one day! Referrals will be a valuable tool for the rest of your life.


Bill James raced from the humble beginnings of selling door to door to becoming a national sales manager within the finance and insurance industries.

You may also like:

How To Really Use Linked-In
By No Author
$14.95 USD
Find Out More

Filed under Sales & Marketing. Posted by The Corporate Toolbox on