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#366: Make Sure Your Referrers Know You as Well as You Hope They Do

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, August 9, 2010
Updated: Monday, August 9, 2010
I want to make sure that clients have an accurate picture when evaluating whether to hire me. My proposals and presentations are great. Sometimes I have not gotten a job that I thought I was more qualified for than anyone else. What am I missing?

A referral is a testimonial by someone who sees value in what you have to offer. But this doesn't happen without some intervention on your part. Four things must happen to get great referrals. The referrer must (1) recognize specific value in what you have to offer, (2) know that a referral is of value to you, (3) know to whom they should make a referral, and (4) have a reason to make the referral.

First, be clear what you want them to value. They hired you for a reason but you might want referrals in another area. Tell them specifically what skills and behaviors you want them to tell others about.

Second, clients are not mind readers. Your relationship is based on you helping them, not the other way around. Tell them you'd appreciate a referral. Most will be happy to do it if you just asked.

Third, make a list of specific people or types of people you'd like a referral to. Don't make your clients do work to give referrals on your behalf. They can look at a list you've given them and think of people to whom they could make a referral that you didn't even know existed.

Last, make it worth their while. Why would they take time and risk their reputation? Because you can provide a client's colleagues with the same value you provided them. Like a recommendation for a great restaurant, create a desire in your client to make the referral.

Tip: Here's a novel idea: ask people who you think are your top potential referrers what you do, for whom and for what value. This is not a thought experiment - actually ask them. You might be shocked.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  client relations  market research  marketing  prospect  recommendations  sales 

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Michael E. Cohen CMC MBA says...
Posted Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Related to the issue of getting good referrals is the issue of getting good references. Often the same people may be botha referrer and a reference. Below are some suggestings on getting good references, which may also be used for good referrals.

1. Ask the person if they will be willing to serve as a reference. This is especially important if you ahve not spoken to or worked wiht thre person in a long while.

2. If there is any doubt on your part on whether the person would be a good reference, ask them directly.

3. Let the person know in advance (e.g., of submission of a proposal) that you are including them as a reference. Inform them of the name of the potential client, and the subject matter and time frame of the proposal.

4. If you are a solo consultant and are working with a larger firm or as part of a team of solos, inform the reference with whom you are working. Otherwise, the caller may ask for a reference on a firm (for which you are part of a team), and your reference might not recognize the firm.

5. If you apply the above principles re: getting good references, I believe you will find it more likely that some of these references will also provide good referrals.
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