You’ve done an incredible job for your sellers. Got them a record-breaking price for their home and helped them downsize to a great condo. With your clients ecstatic by the job you’ve done, this sounds like a perfect time to ask for referrals.
It’s been two months since they’ve settled into their new place, so you drop in for a visit to see how they’re doing. Before you head out the door, you go for the question. “Would you know anyone else that might be buying or selling?”  Your client thinks about it for a moment and says, “hmmm…no…I really can’t think of anyone”.  That may be the very truth, but if this is the answer you’re used to hearing, you may be asking for referrals the wrong way. There is a better way that produces better results.

The general psyche when you ask somebody, “Who do you know anyone who needs my service?” is that you’re asking them to make a value judgement about other people, and they don’t necessarily know the answer to that, or at the very least can’t put two and two together at that particular moment. What ends up happening is the default answer, which is usually a “no”, or a “not now”.

Back when I was a student, my mother owned a small coffee shop, where I put in a few hours in the evenings. As customers would approach the counter and order a beverage, I would get their drink, head to the cash register and ask them the obligatory “anything else?”. Unsurprisingly, almost everyone immediately said no (or no thanks – if they were polite), and proceeded to pay for their beverage. One evening, we decided to do a quick social experiment and change things up. Instead of asking the usual “anything else” question, we came up with a very specific question: “Would you like a blueberry muffin with your coffee?” (mostly inspired by a huge amount of blueberry muffins we had available that evening).

The results were pretty dramatic. Six of ten customers actually took to the suggestion and bought another item. Some didn’t like a blueberry muffin, but the very suggestion of something specific, got them looking at the pastry rack and picking out something else.  Over the course of four hours, we managed to increase average sales by a whopping 40%. All by changing up the one line to be somewhat suggestive.

As a salesperson, you likely have a reasonably well-defined profile of who your target client is or would be.  If you don’t, you can always go back, look at your records and work out the commonalities of your clients, coupled with your specialization.
When you have a clear profile of who your best clients are, the way you ask for referrals could sound more like this: “Mary, do you know anyone whose kids may have recently left the house who might be thinking of downsizing to a condo?”. If your target market is 30-something professionals who are into unique loft spaces. Your question would be very different, wouldn’t it?

It’s a much easier question for your client to answer a specific and suggestive question because they don’t have to make a value judgement about the people who may fit that profile.  Even if they don’t know anyone at that particular moment, it is, by far, a more memorable and achievable way for your client to keep their eyes and ears open for you.

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