The Challenge of Getting Referrals: What You MUST Know to Succeed!

By Sue Clement

Do you ever wonder why developing referral partners seem so hard? Often we’re just missing a few key points that can make all the difference. Here’s what to to do turn that around and earn more referrals!edDo you ever wonder why developing potential referral partners seem so hard?  It’s not always their fault…
Getting referrals is challenging enough as it is. But often, we make things even harder by tripping over some very common stumbling blocks.
You see, we might have the right idea – for example about whom to approach for referrals, but we’re missing some important steps. And that can literally kill our chances for getting referrals. Yes, even from people who seem to be a natural or “perfect” fit.
Let’s look at the various groups we might approach in order to get referrals...
1.  Members in our networking groups
They’re supposed to refer us, yet often they don’t. And it’s not because they don’t like us, or because they’re unwilling to share our services. Instead, it might be you who is causing the hold-up. You haven’t explicitly told them what would be a good referral for you.
What you want to happen is this: They see one of your ideal prospects and immediately think of you. This won’t happen unless they have enough information to recognize the opportunity when it arises.
And what would help them? For starters, a highly focused elevator pitch or networking introduction. And then, you should follow up and give them some tools that will help them refer you more effectively. For example: who to look for and what to say, how to pass the referral, a list of your services, what your process is, case studies or testimonials etc…
2.  Your clients or customers

You’ve probably heard that customers are ideal sources for referrals. Then why aren’t they sending (more of) their friends and colleagues your way?!
There may be a number of reasons…
While I’m sure the vast majority of your clients are happy and even raving fans, there’s no guarantee that they will refer you.   We think they should… but they don’t.  Instead of being disappointed, reflect back and see if you’ve even set it up by asking them for a referral.  When was the last time?  And how did you ask?  Was it a meaningless comment like; “If you happen to know anyone who could use my services please send them my way.”  That absolutely will not bring you all the referrals you deserve!
Consider… have you shared with them exactly who you’d like a referral to? Or given them suggestions of how to identify potential referrals? And how about proving them with conversations starters so they can bring up the topic of your services with their friends and colleagues?
Keep in mind that passing referrals may not be easy or natural for all your clients so helping them along can increase the quantity (& quality) of client referrals.
There’s a lot more to getting referrals from clients than just doing good work and sitting back and hoping they’ll come your way! 
3.  Other Businesses who also service your target market
This is an excellent source for referral partners. The idea is that you both interact with the same type of clients, so you should be able to refer people to each other.
But it’s trickier than you may think.
First of all, some of these business owners might see you as competition. If you’re too perceived as too similar with how you help your mutual target customers, that might be a real issue, and you may or may not be able to work together. Having a specific and narrow niche will help this greatly.
Or they may see you as a threat to consume their client’s budget. I was once told by web designer that he was reluctant to refer his clients to me because if they bought my services they wouldn’t have the funds for his services. That scarcity mindset is a killer for referral partners.
There might also be a great imbalance in terms of just how many clients you might be able to refer to each other realistically. The more balanced the relationship is in terms of give and take, the easier it is. 
As you can see, getting consistent referrals from these three “perfect” groups can still be tricky business.
 You have to walk a balancing act as you approach them, avoid easy-to-miss pitfalls, and finally, you need to make sure they know exactly what to look for in finding a perfect referral for you.
And it’s a great idea to start with that last point, because once they know who would be a prime prospect for you and see potential referrals in their circle of influence, it’ll be easier to navigate around any other challenging points.