Why Don’t I Get More Referrals?

The PowerCore MembershipJournal has three tabs –

  1. What to SAY to GET Referrals,
  2. What to DO to GET Referrals, and
  3. What to DO to GIVE Referrals.

When I’m not getting all the referrals I’d like – there’s a reason why, and I’m the only person who can fix it.

This I know for sure. It’s never about the Team. Ever.
We want it to be about them, we hope it’s about them, hear me clearly: it is not ever about them.

So what do people SAY that sabotages referrals?

  1. “Connect us with 3-way email.” 
    This is from the last century. Since 2009 this has been a referral detractor. Replace this with a Kindling Question – a question I would ask, in context, to start a conversation that allows them to think asking for a connection was their idea.
  2. “I’m the Team’s ________.”
    This makes the assumption that Members owe me business because I’ve paid for the seat at the table. It’s a sales assumption, and it costs referrals. Skip this. Just leave it out. Really. They all know who you are and what you do – your client story will tell them.
  3. “If you know of someone who wants …”
    Specific client identification is not optional for referrals. Describe a person (not a business) by name, or title, or relationship (relationship is the weakest) then share a behaviour (want is an emotion, not a behaviour – golfs every Sunday Morning is a behaviour) so listeners have a picture to recognize.
  4. Busy. Yep, the word “busy” as in “I’m so busy” squashes referrals.
    The listener thinks two things
    a: they won’t have time to take good care of my client, and
    b: I wouldn’t want to make life harder on them.
    And … no referral. When someone asks how it’s going say “This week I’m working with  –” and tell that story. They’ll think of a referral just like, or not at all like, what you talk about.
  5. “That depends . . .”
    If you won’t tell me this, what else aren’t you telling me? Replace “that depends” with “When” and the circumstances. The listener will ask, “How about when ___?” and bam, you’ve got a conversation, and an opportunity.
  6. Talk about everything you do. 
    I used the mental model of a four-drawer filing cabinet. Each drawer is one of the products or services clients pay you for.
    A drawer can be profitably covered in one hour. No one is going to listen to you talk about yourself for an hour.
    In each drawer are 36 Pendaflex folders. Each of those is a 7-Minute Presentation, or a series of six InfoMinutes.
    When people talk about a Pendaflex during an InfoMinute, or a drawer for a 7-Minute, they sound just like the competition – so there’s nothing to refer.

What do people DO that corrupts referrals?

  1. Show the speaker you’re not paying attention to them.
    Examples? Look at your phone while they’re talking, do email while you’re on a call with them, post to social media during a meeting (there’s a time stamp, remember), texting while you’re with them. Multi-tasking means one thing that takes attention + one thing that doesn’t. If the speaker feels they are the thing you aren’t giving attention to, you lose. You lose referrals.
  2. Assume respect.
    Referrals are earned, not owed. They’re earned by respect. People feel respected when they see your eyes, and your smile, and you ask questions about them. Be on time, return phone calls, say thank you, dress appropriately. There’s more. Show the respect they expect you to give their client.
  3. Demonstrate a lack of preparation.
    Riffing off the InfoMinute of the person before me means: I wasn’t prepared.
    Talking about today’s news means: I wasn’t prepared.
    Apologizing for not having a prop means: I wasn’t prepared.
    If I’m not prepared for you how can you trust I’ll be prepared for your client?
  4. Share bad news with the group.
    Good news to groups, bad news 1:1.
    Good news for eyes, bad news for ears.
    Last week a Member apologized during the meeting for standing another Member up for lunch. Told the whole Team they couldn’t be counted on to keep an appointment, and made it clear they hadn’t reached out that day, on bended knee, offering to wash their car. People assume that how you do anything is how you’ll do everything. No one can afford the risk of to referring to a rude person.
  5. Pitch. Constantly.
    For instance, when a Member shares a referral do you say, “Hey – that would be good for me, too!”
    Won’t work.
    Poking people with a stick while saying “Gimmee gimmee.” isn’t an effective referral strategy. People know what you do, I promise, they do. They aren’t skipping you because they don’t know. Really. They know what you do.
  6. Inappropriate humor.
    This one is difficult for me. I’ve found my sense of humor often isn’t … appropriate. The humor maxim is: when it doubt, leave it out. I leave it out a lot – or I call to apologize. <shaking head>

How do people GIVE to earn referrals?

  1. Refer. Well. With information.
    A referral is a three-way connection.
    A lead is not a referral – a lead is an opportunity to cold call. Referrals are the antithesis of cold calling. When Members call the number you’ve given them, and the person isn’t interested — bad juju. Bad. But it gets worse: don’t pass an opportunity to refer and call it a referral. Don’t think the Realtor considers your painter a referral. If it’s not going to be a bank deposit, it’s not a referral. Calling it one, or filling out a referral record, doesn’t make it so.
  2. Create a system for referrals.
    There’s the Jill Pullen System,  and the Tim Miller System, and the Maggie McSweeney System,and the Rusty Carter System, and the Nancy Kaye System, and you could make your own or use theirs, just know that “I don’t have a referral today” isn’t a smart thing to say. Ever. Make a system that you will use.
  3. Refer to GateOpeners in person.
    A GateOpener is a second generation referral – that means it’s even riskier for them. All GateOpener introductions have to be made in person, over food. Otherwise it blows back bad from two directions. When you make a solid GateOpener introduction, in person, with food, both people feel they owe you. Big!
  4. Follow through.
    When Visitors and Subs come, follow through with them. You’ll impress them. They’ll say good things about you, and your Team, and refer to you. Follow through. It’s worth it. Linda Loud follows through to the person she subbed for. People say good things about Linda.
  5. Take the initiative.
    When you suggest coffee it’s your role to choose a date, time, and place. Placing these decisions on the other person’s task list isn’t giving – it’s abdicating. You invite, you choose date, time and place. They respond.
  6. Write Endorsement Letters.
    Tammy Mealy takes her Team’s Endorsement Letters and posts them by her door – where every client sees the opportunity on the way out. Tammy also sent an Endorsement Letter for a Sub to read on a day she wasn’t there; not being at the meeting isn’t an excuse for not having referrals. If you’re doing an InfoMinute, have something to give.

So I pulled six in each category – I could do 20.

Two action items:
1: Ask one Member you trust for one thing (1) you could do better. (When you get asked don’t overshare – that’s another credibility buster.)
2: Add a referral buster that’s kept you from introducing a client in the comments, below.

Referrals shape business,


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