Let’s get the facts straight. Asking for a referral is NOT asking for a favor. And it’s NOT taking a risk.

Referrals Are Right

When we ask someone for a favor, we often assume that they expect something in return as soon as possible. (While technically, a favor is something provided out of goodwill—the business connotation has evolved with less kind regard.)

Asking for a referral is not a risk (as some authors promote) where you risk a relationship or a friendship.

If we erroneously follow the “referrals are a favor/risk,” then we’d never ask for referrals. Or we’d ask in such a meaningless way, that we might as well never ask in the first place.

In fact, by assuming the “favor/risk” position, we undermine the true power of the referral. The diluted “favor/risk” referral request sounds something like this: “If you know anyone who could benefit from my services, please let them know.”

If you’re one of the many sales people who ask this question, I picture you nodding your head and recalling that nothing happened as a result.

The Goodness of Referrals

Referrals are positive, powerful, and upright. Referrals are built on truth and integrity. It’s time to re-wire your referral brain. Think of all the referrals you easily and willingly provide: You tell people about a great restaurant, a terrific movie, a top mechanic, and the latest app for the iPad. We give referrals all the time—and they are neither favors nor risks.

Value and Trust Prevail

In addition, think of people you know well. You like them, trust them, and know they’re good people. They ask you for a personal or a business referral. You want to help as much as possible. Think of a super-likeable salesperson you know, and you really want to buy from him. But you don’t need his product. You go out of your way to connect him with others.

On the opposite front, a salesperson might have exactly the product you need, but he’s pushy and arrogant. No way will you buy from him or refer him.

The fact is—we refer people we know, like, and trust. When we refer, we help out someone. We introduce a credible resource and save the other person valuable time. In addition, we are elevated in the minds of the recipient. If you must use the word “favor,” the “favor” is presented to the recipient of your referral (not for the person asking for the referral).

Yes, you must earn the right to ask. You know when that happens. Sometimes you meet a person, forge an immediate connection, and look for ways to help each other. Done. You’ve earned the right.

You’ve earned the right with your current clients, but have you asked every single one? They really want to refer you, but you must ask. We often believe that when we’ve done good work for our clients, they automatically refer us. Does that happen? Yes. If you want to build your business, should you rely on it? No.

Deliver Value

Ask for a referral anytime during your sales process when you deliver value. How will you know? Most likely your client will say thank you, let you know that you gave them a good idea, or delivered useful information.

Delete “favor” and “risk” from your referral lexicon.  Insert: Value, trust, confidence, truth.

You know you’re good. Show it. Share it. Ask for referrals.

Share Your Referral Secrets

What works for you? What makes you proud? How do you grow you referral business? Join the conversation.