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How to Ask for Referrals

Here are some suggestions !!

Tell a Story:

Analyse your book of business by industry (if possible) such as manufacturing, retail, professional services, etc. If not break it down between business and individual. Then author a "snail mail" letter campaign in which the letter opens with a "Thank You for your loyalty and contribution to the continuing growth and success of our firm." Continue with a brief Story about an industry specific client you were able to assist by 1) reducing their tax liability 2) securing a business loan 3) expanding their sales/profit.......etc. Then request the referral!

This type communication puts subliminal pressure on a client to "produce" but does so in a very non-intrusive manner. Remember you said "Thank you for your loyalty and contribution to the continuing growth and success...". With this type of communication you also give them a story to tell their family, friends or associates. If you do not provide them this you are expecting them to be a good "salesperson" and as you well know few people want to be a salesperson or are any good at it. Give them the tools to help you!!

Most clients will genuinely try to help by making a referral. And they will do it for two reasons: 1) Everyone wants to be part of and contribute to something "successful" and 2) They will feel a subliminal pressure to perform.

Reward Your Clients for a Referral:

Most firms compensate staff for bringing in business but few "flip the script" for a client. Why? This time of the year is your best opportunity to build your business through referrals because most everyone is beginning to think of year-end planning and beginning tax planning (better late then never!).

It would be recommended to send a snail mail letter stamped on the outside, in red, "Personal" or "Confidential". Inside is a letter thanking them for past referrals and (again) letting them know they have contributed to the success of your firm. Include a small (and inexpensive) token of your appreciation for these past referrals. It can be a couple of car wash coupons or $10 gift card to the movie theatre or anything else that is thoughtful and genuine. Of course it is important to assign a value to the referrals given previously but thoughtfulness has considerable "value". Share the story mentioned above to empower them.

By sending this to those that have, in the past offered referral business, you know they are comfortable doing so and proactive in that regard.

There are many different ways of building a referral network that will feed your billings for years to come but the single most important point to remember is when you ask, in a direct manner, for a referral many will feel uncomfortable. Some do not, many certainly do. If you make a referral request a sincere expression of appreciation AND you empower them, the results are surprising.

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