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Posted: February 16, 2010

The secret to getting more referrals

What's stopping you from using what you already know?

Merit Gest

If you've been in business for a while, you have probably experienced the gift of a referral. No need to cold call and network during your precious time if business is coming in through referrals.

Over the years, I have taught business people across a wide range of industries on how to get more and better referrals. The course I created was pretty darn good, with templates, scripts, action plans, practice time built into the program and even a conversation about beliefs that sabotage success getting referrals. People got results after the training, but I have to say not everybody got results every time.

As a trainer and coach, there is nothing more frustrating than sharing your best stuff and watching people take notes and not do a single thing with the information. So I started doing what trainers do if that situation arises: I added more content and made the sessions longer. If I just gave them more good stuff, I bet then they would use it.

Here's the dirty little secret: it wasn't more skills stuff that most people needed -- it was a better understanding of what was blocking them from using what they already knew.

In a recent coaching session with a successful entrepreneur, I learned that he clearly deserves more referrals than that he receives. We peeled back a layer of the onion he had not reached: He thought he needed new sound bytes and scripts to get more referrals, but an Emotional Intelligence assessment report showed that while he had great interpersonal relationship skills, he wasn't very assertive.

Translation: even if I gave him great new stuff to say, the words would likely never make it out of his mouth unless we found a way for him to be a little more assertive.

To implement the skills he had been taught, he first had to learn how to get permission to talk about referrals. For him, that was easier once he exceeded the expectations of his clients.

Permission changes everything; without permission in advance, he was uncomfortable asking for referrals, no matter what he was coached to say. Now with a heightened awareness of ways to enhance his assertiveness and ways to get permission to do so, it almost doesn't matter what exact words he chooses -- he's getting more and better referrals.

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Merit Gest is President & Founder of Merit-Based Development, a Denver based firm specializing in on-boarding top sales talent.  She is one of a small handful of specialists in the world certified and trained in Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Transformation Tools, giving her a unique perspective for hiring, on-boarding and retaining top sales talent.  Reach Merit at 720-980-1286 or Merit@MeritGest.com
 

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