It feels like begging, doesn’t it?
You just spent an hour or two with this customer, and now you’re about to send them on their way in their new car.
You know you need to ask.
You know it’s going to be awkward.
You know you’ll both squirm in your seats a little.
You have two choices:
- Blurt it out and sound like a schmuck
- Don’t ask at all
I’m talking, of course, about asking for referrals.
Here are five tips to help you ask for referrals.
1. Always ask for referrals.
Yes. Even with the tough customers. Make it quick. Make it brief. But always ask.
This doesn’t seem like a very profound tip, does it? It might surprise you to find out how many of us are avoiding the ask, and, I don’t know, hoping that your customer sends business your way.
I come into contact with salespeople every day who don’t ask. (These are often the same salespeople who won’t make prospecting calls.
2. Ask for help. People like to help.
Imagine you answer a phone call from someone you barely know. Their first words are, “Will you do something for me?” Your response will likely be, “What is it?” There’s no commitment from the other party in that response. They’re simply asking for more clarification before they commit to helping.
On the other hand, if the first words from the caller are “I wonder if you can help me?” Most of us would respond with, “How can I help?” People like to help. Ask for help.
“I just wanted to congratulate you again on your new car. I enjoy helping customers like you buy a vehicle that they love. Let’s go outside so I can help you get reacquainted with your new car. But before we do… I wonder if you can help me. I feel like we clicked today. I wonder if you have any friends or family like you who I can help also help when they’re ready to buy a car.”
3. Give a referral before you ask for a referral.
If you’ve taken my training, you have many contacts; both in and out of the car business. You know mechanics and service advisors. You also likely know tradesmen and salesmen. You know business owners and janitors. You know policemen and garbage men. You know politicians and physicians. You know welders and plumbers. You probably even know unemployed teenagers! Remind every customer that you are willing to be their connection to anybody you know. It’s a professional courtesy and good business.
Perhaps in the time you’ve spent with this customer, you’ve learned that they have a need one of your other contacts can help them with. Offer to make the connection.
”You mentioned that you were going to go shopping for a new refrigerator after this. One of my best customers is a salesperson at the best appliance store in the area. He’s a lot like me; he wants to help his customers find the right solution for them, not just sell them an appliance. Here, let me introduce you to him?”
Always offer to make the call yourself, don’t just write down a number and instruct them to mention your name. Make the call. Make the introduction. Right now. In their presence.
Then later, when you’re about to head out to their car, ask for a referral. Don’t just get the potential customer’s name; also ask this customer to make the call. Make the introduction. Right now.
“I just wanted to congratulate you again on your new car. I enjoy helping customers like you buy a vehicle that they love. Let’s go outside so I can help you get reacquainted with your new car. But before we do… I wonder if you can help me. I feel like we clicked today. I wonder if you have any friends or family like you who are considering buying a car?” If they offer up a name, follow with: “Oh, that’s great! Will you introduce me?”
If they don’t offer to reciprocate and make the call right now, it gives you an open door to call tomorrow and ask for the introduction again.
4. Reward them!
Let me be clear; I’m not talking about a bird-dog. Or a finders fee if the customer buys a car. I’m talking about a small token of appreciation for a lead. The reward isn’t contingent on the referral purchasing a vehicle. The reward is a gift. The referral is how the customer thanks you for the gift.
Have some sort of swag to give every customer. Will you need to make a financial investment? Yes. Will you add leads to your sales funnel? Also yes!
As you’re wrapping up with the customer at your desk, suddenly “remember” that you have one more thing for them. A little gift! Pull out the swag and put it on your desk, and slide it over to the customer. After their surprised, “thank you!” Ask for the referral. You’re not trying to guilt the customer into giving you a referral; you’re simply using the swag to open the door to ask.
Note: Make the swag cool. If you’re thinking of a keychain, or USB drive, or pen, get those items out of your head right now. Spend at least $10 to $20 per item. A hat? A thermal mug? Branded hard-bound notebook? Local honey?
5. Don’t ask
Don’t ask, do. What I mean is; make yourself well known in the community by being generous. Become a leader in the community. Volunteer in a service group such as Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, Optimists, etc. Make yourself valuable and, if you’re qualified, take on a leadership position.
The members of these groups are often influential community leaders who are also being generous with what little extra time they have. And boy, oh boy, do they have connections. People of this caliber like having a “guy (or gal)” in the business; a connection. (Whatever business it may be) This is the kind of person who picks up the phone to get their “guy” on the line and tells him that another mover and shaker needs something you offer, and they’d appreciate it if you gave them the best service possible.
There is incredible value in that!
The kind of referral that you don’t have to ask for is the best kind of referral.
Note: Don’t join these groups simply for the referral; join them because you have a generous and giving heart, and you want to make your community a better place. If you are phony and join simply for the connections, your motives will be transparent, and your efforts will be counterproductive.
A final word.
Don’t skip the steps of the sale simply because you’re selling to a referral. You will still need to be a professional, build rapport, discover needs, build actual value, ask for the sale, negotiate (although negotiations are always easier with a friend and a referral), give excellent customer service and incredible service after the sale.