Recently, a gentleman asked me to introduce him to someone inside our company in charge of buying the products he happens to sell. I was a little hesitant, at first. After all, providing that referral would be like giving the guy my stamp of approval; if he did anything unprofessional, it might reflect poorly on me among my colleagues.
After thinking about it a bit, I went ahead and made the introduction this seller was hoping for. Firstly because he had earned the referral, based on the professional manner in which he approached me when we met at a recent conference. But also because he asked for it, explaining the reasons he felt our companies were a good match, and promising that he would provide real service to anyone he spoke to within The Center for Sales Strategy.
After making the introduction via email, he sent me a very brief thank-you note. It said only: “I’ll make you proud.” With just a short note, he let me know that he appreciated the introduction; he realized it was an investment of faith on my part, and that he would proceed with due care. He set a great example we can follow:
- Do you just hope good customers will give you a referral, or do you ask for them?
- Do you think referrals can only come from a satisfied customer? (My role in this referral was only that of being an inside coach.)
- When someone provides you with an introduction or referral, do you thank her or him?
- Before and after a referring party puts their reputation on the line for you, do you reassure them that you’ll exceed their expectations… and make them look great in the eyes of your new prospect?
- Do you make the referral easy to give? (A business card that someone can pass along, an email that is easy to forward, etc.)
Earning a referral is like making any other sale, except the payment is in faith rather than monetary funds. If you’re going to ask someone for a reference, make sure you’re earning that investment of faith, and making it easy for her/him to give. Then, make them proud.
Mike Anderson is VP / Consumer Insights and Communication at The Center for Sales Strategy.