Ask Colleen

Hi Colleen. I HATE asking for referrals. Do you have any advice for ideas I can use to get referrals without asking for them? Anne.

Hi Anne! I have to admit I used to hate asking for referrals too. The best advice I can give you though is to snap out of it! Suck it up and ask. Why? Because your clients want to help. If you ask correctly you will get lots of help. For some ideas check out last Thursdays blog post.

Here’s an example that illustrates how letter-writing can work for you. Start by preparing a simple thank-you letter that you’re going to send to a client. In this case, let’s call this client Dave. Open with: “Thank you so much, Dave, for doing business with us. We really enjoy working with you.”

Next, you’ll include a reference to someone who is familiar to Dave. For example: “you might remember I was referred to you by Dan at Acme Corporations.” Then proceed to asking for a referral. For instance: “Dave, we build our business through referrals. As a special gift to you, in exchange for referring me to new people who can become my clients, I will treat you for a lunch for two at…” and then include the name of a fancy restaurant in town.

Be sure to include an eye-catching headline at the top of the first page of the letter—a succinct statement that makes it clear to the reader that you’re offering something tantalizing. For example, it could say: “Who says there is no such thing as a free lunch?” You can also include that headline as a stamp on the back of the envelope of the letter. Anything that helps the reader to take notice of your offer.

In addition, near the bottom of the letter (or included as an attachment), make sure there is a little referral form that the reader can fill out. Keep it simple. Include a field for the reader’s name and phone number, and then enough space for the reader to add five names and phone numbers of referrals.

I call that particular letter “the free lunch letter.” And it really does work. One of my clients adopted this letter and in one year, brought in $17,000 in new commissions—not revenue…commissions.

Good luck! Colleen

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