Master the Art of the Ask

The number one reason some professionals receive more referrals than others is that they simply ask for them. Many people feel uncomfortable and awkward asking their clients for referrals. However, once you are prepared and you have a strategy for when and how to ask, it will feel natural and comfortable for both you and the other party.

Set the Stage

While most people ask for referrals once they have finished serving their clients, we recommend having a conversation about referrals and introductions at the end of your first client meeting. This sets the stage for a referral conversation later in your client service cycle.

Earl Kemper is a referral master and has been recognized as the #1 coach for ActionCOACH five times for the Americas region and twice globally. Earl is truly skilled at helping companies grow and create predictable profitability. A cornerstone of Earl’s system is the ability to grow the business by systemizing their referrals.

Earl primarily coaches top-producing financial advisors helping them dramatically increase assets under management. He teaches
them to weave a pre-referral request into every new client conversation saying:

“Thanks so much for meeting with me today. Before you leave, I’d like to ask for your help. As you may know, I am in the process of expanding my business, and one of the ways I keep my costs down is by working primarily by referral, so I don’t have to spend much time or money on advertising. Once I’ve taken care of you and hopefully have exceeded your expectations, I’d like to ask your permission to ask you for referrals. Would that be all right?”

You’ll find people are extremely receptive to this question because everyone likes to help other people. Also, you haven’t asked them for a referral at that moment in time. You’ve simply gotten their permission to ask them for referrals and introductions in the future once you’ve provided your services and earned their trust.

Listen for Referral Triggers

After your client has given their approval to ask for referrals and introductions in the future, you need to be on the lookout for
expressions of appreciation. These Referral Triggers let you know when it’s time to ask for a referral or introduction because your clients are in peak referral state.

Listen closely, and whenever your clients say any of these Referral Triggers, it’s time to ask for referrals:

  • Thank you so much!
  • You are so good at what you do!
  • You did a great job!
  • I couldn’t have done it without you!
  • You’re the best!
  • This is beautiful!
  • Wow, I love it!
  • I can’t believe how much I saved!
  • I can’t believe how much I made!
  • You’ve helped me save so much time/energy/money!
  • I look/feel great!
  • I have a friend/neighbor/client who might need your
  • I should introduce you to…

When you hear any of these Referral Triggers, immediately smile and say,

“I’m so glad you feel that way. I love helping clients like you {share your Service Statement}. By the way, I may have mentioned before that I am expanding my business, so if you know any {describe your Perfect Prospect} who might need help {share your Service Statement}, I’d love to connect with them and see if I can help them the way I helped you.

Do you know anyone right now who is looking to {share your Service Statement}?”

Be ready to ask for referrals when opportunities arise and when trust has been established in the relationship.

Never miss a prime opportunity to ask. Even if they don’t have a referral for you now, you’ve planted a seed and set the stage so they refer you later when they hear of someone that might benefit from your services.

A-S-K to G-E-T

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from Mark Victor Hansen is to A-S-K to G-E-T. If you’ve never read his book with Jack Canfield called, The Aladdin Factor, take a moment and order it now either in printed form, eBook, or as an audiobook. The key concept of the book is that the more you ask for what you want, the more you will get it. If you are in sales, are self-employed, or make a living selling products or services, the more often you ask for the sale.

When meeting with your clients, try inserting the following questions into the conversation:

  • I hope you’re pleased with the service I’ve provided. Is there anything I can do to make you even happier?
  • Now that we’ve been working together for a while, I’m wondering if you can tell me what you have found most valuable about working with me?
  • I’m committed to growing my business through exceptional service. On a scale of 1-10, how happy would you say you are with my services? What would make it a 10?
  • Do you mind if I ask what you have liked best about working with me?
  • If you don’t mind me asking, if you knew someone who was looking for a {insert your profession} how likely would you be to recommend me? What would you say?

If the client responds positively, you can follow up by saying,

“I’m so glad to hear that. I hope you’ll recommend me any time you hear any {describe your perfect prospect} mention
that they are looking for a good {insert your profession} or need help {share your Service Statement}. Is there anyone who comes to mind who might need my help?”

Not only will these questions lead to more referrals, but they will also give you testimonials you can use to market your services. Just be sure to capture what they say and ask for permission to use their testimonial on your website and promotional materials.

Referral Offers and Discounts

Another way you can comfortably ask for referrals and introductions is by letting clients know you offer special services, offers, or discounts for referred clients. If this applies to your business, you might say something like:

“As you may know, I prefer working with people who are
referred to us. Right now, we’re giving a special discount to friends or family of our existing clients. If there’s anyone you’d like to refer, they will get an extra 20% off our premier package (customize with your offer). And, of course, I’ll take extra special care of them since they’re coming from you. Is there anyone you can think of who might like to take advantage of this?”

For optimal results, we suggest creating and giving them a refer-a-friend gift certificate they can quickly and easily hand out to people when they talk about your services. This gives prospective clients an overview of your services, along with a testimonial from someone they trust.

As you start integrating these conversations into your client dialogues, you will find people are happy to refer others when asked at the right time and in the right way.

Referral Offers and Discounts

While you’ve probably spent thousands of hours practicing and perfecting your trade or profession, you most likely haven’t spent much time learning and practicing how to attract referrals and introductions. Since practice makes perfect, we recommend you partner with another professional and roll-play these conversations, so they become second nature to you both.

Another way you can comfortably ask for referrals and introductions is by letting clients know you offer special services, offers, or discounts for referred clients. If this applies to your business, you might say something like:

As you master the art of the ask, you will find that clients refer you without even being asked as you build a business that is powered by referrals. In addition to asking for referrals, start asking for anything and everything you want in life.

  • Ask for an appointment
  • Ask for an introduction
  • Ask to take the next step
  • Ask if they would like a demo
  • Ask if you can give them a tour
  • Ask for the contract
  • Ask when they would like to get started
  • Ask if they would like to move forward

Asking for what you want dramatically increases the likelihood that you will get it. Best of all, you have nothing to lose because if the answer is no, you are in the exact same position you were before you asked. If they say yes, you will have achieved your desired outcome and have moved your business forward.

Mastering the Art of the Ask is one of the top practices that create more success.