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Word of Mouth

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When asked how most financial institutions get new business most will say it's by "word of mouth advertising". Word of mouth is by far the most cost effective and easiest way to get new business. It's not surprising then that asking for referrals ranks up there as the single biggest activity that managers would love to see their team doing consistently AND the single biggest activity that doesn't get done consistently.

Top Reasons Why We Don't Ask For Referrals:

 We're lazy. We expect that the customers will tell their friends and family about the great service they received so why both asking for a referral when it will probably happen anyway.
 Scared. Worried that the person you ask will not know of anyone.
 We think we'll sound like a cheap used car salesman.

Why We Should Ask For Referrals:

 It works. The odds of getting a referral go up in proportion to the number of times you ask for them.
 If done correctly, we sound like we actually have some confidence in our profession and what we do. That confidence increases your customers' confidence in you and your company (always a good thing).

How to Ask for Referrals:

When to Ask:
There are many opportunities to ask for referrals so do not limit yourself to what is mentioned here. The most logical and natural times to ask for referrals are:
1. During a follow up call or appointment
2. During the delivery stage of the sale
3. When a customer compliments you on your level of service.

Prepare to Ask:
Setting up the best time to ask for a referral is important. Sometimes this can be done just by asking customer how they feel about the service they are getting (that is why asking for a referral during a follow up call is such a natural time). For example,
 How have you found our services since you starting banking with us?
Assuming the customer answers in the positive,
 That's great to hear, we try to provide a higher level of personal service than the competition. If you happen to hear someone complaining about their bank please pass on my card, I'd be happy to provide them the same service that you are getting.

Making it Easy for the Customer to Answer:
You can make it easier for a customer to think of someone they may want to refer by narrowing down a group they might be affiliated with. For example:
 Mr. Customer do you know someone else that may be moving or thinking about moving in the next while that may be in need of financing?(said to someone you just did a mortgage for)
 Mr. Customer do you know someone else that may be thinking about getting a new vehicle that may be in need of financing?
 Mr. Customer do you know someone you
o Play ball with …?
o Go to church with …?
o Work with …?

For Those That are Uncomfortable
Some people are not comfortable asking for a referral. If this is the case then "suggesting a referral" is a viable alternative. You do this by inserting the word "if" into many of the statements we've used as examples as well as suggesting they pass along one of your cards. For example,
 Mr. Customer if you happen to run into someone else that may be moving or thinking about moving in the next while please feel free to pass on one of my cards. (said while handing them two or more cards)

Final Word on Referrals:

Just remember the key to getting referrals is to make asking for them a regular part of your day. Consistency is critical. If a customer does not know anyone that's ok – you asked, and "no" is a legitimate answer. Don't sweat it.

"Some will, some won't, so what, next!"

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Copyright © 2008 by Fusion Performance Group Inc.
Copyright © 2012 by Fusion Performance Group Inc. If you share this, print it out, or reproduce it in any way, please retain this copyright statement.