Referral Magic

Perhaps you have sat in an audience watching a sales awards ceremony and been spellbound by the acceptance speeches as the winners talked about their success. If you were struggling at the time, their success may have looked like magic. And you wanted to know how they did it. How did they pull all those sales out of the hat?

The truth is, if their sales came from strong referrals, they may not really know how they did it. Or, they may know what worked and be unwilling to share it. They may want the secrets behind their magic to remain hidden.

This is especially true when professionals plan and benefit their referrers exceptionally well. They may want it to look easier than it really was. But you can bet there was much more at play than saying the magic words and just asking for referrals. There was likely a give and take and a sequence of things that happened that made their referral relationships work. There is no real magic that can make the perfect referrals suddenly appear.

The Magic Is In Relationships
If you want referrals, you should look past finding which words will work and look instead at what makes relationships work. Referral relationships work like other relationships work. Think about your relationships with people in your neighborhood. Just image the neighbors on your block and their willingness to help you if your car broke down.

Each might respond differently, depending on your relationship. One might refuse to help and even be rude. One might share the name of a mechanic. Another might be willing to take you to the garage. And one might be a mechanic and insist on fixing it at no cost.

These are very different levels of willingness to help. Your willingness to help would differ for each person, too. Your requests for help would be dependent on your history with each of them and you might not even be sure why you would or wouldn’t ask.

Your request and their response would be based on a history of mutual benefits. If your request included an offer to benefit them, your request and their response would be based on the anticipation of benefits. But your success would have little to do with how you asked.

“Just Asking” Is Not The Magic
The magic is not in how you ask for referrals. At some level of consciousness, people who sell know the magic is somewhere else. It is true that sometimes just asking for referrals will work. However, the real magic is in the quality of the relationship you have not the technique you use.

Like a good magic show, successfully getting ideal referrals with strong introductions from influential people involves planning, preparation, and practice. It may look as easy as waving a wand, but the magic is in building the benefits that result in good relationships. Be sure you do the planning required for your top referrers. The result will be a razzle-dazzle of benefits for you, your referrers, and your new clients!


Excellent insight as usual. Would developing 2-4 probing questions be helpful in identifying each client’s strength or type of referral he/she can generate?

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