Suppose for a moment that you were planning to contact your clients and ask each of them for at least one referral. What three things can you do to increase the results of your efforts?
(1) Count On Reciprocation
In his book "INFLUENCE The Psychology of Persuasion," Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D., writes:
"I know of no better illustration of how reciprocal obligations can reach long and powerfully into the future than the perplexing story of five thousand dollars of relief aid that was sent in 1985 between Mexico and the impoverished people of Ethiopia. In 1985 Ethiopia could justly lay claim to the greatest suffering and privation in the world. Its economy was in ruin. Its food supply had been ravaged by years of drought and internal war. Its inhabitants were dying by the thousands from disease and starvation. Under these circumstances, I would not have been surprised to learn of a five-thousand-dollar relief donation from Mexico to that wrenchingly needy country. I remember my chin hitting my chest, though, when a brief newspaper item I was reading insisted that the aid had gone in the opposite direction. Native officials of the Ethiopian Red Cross had decided to send the money to help the victims of that year’s earthquakes in Mexico City.
"… Despite the enormous needs prevailing in Ethiopia, the money was being sent because Mexico had sent aid to Ethiopia in 1935, when it was invaded by Italy. The need to reciprocate had transcended great cultural differences, long distances, acute famine, and immediate self-interest. Quite simply, a half century later, against all countervailing forces, obligation triumphed."
It’s simply human nature to reciprocate when someone gives you something of value. So, to increase your chances of getting something of value, give something of value first. Do you, perhaps, know of companies that can use your clients’ products or services?
(2) Get Conditional Commitments
Shortly after you sign up a new project or account, make some form of the following statement, and ask your new client the question that follows:
"Comments from satisfied clients are very important to my marketing efforts. When we’re finished with this project, if we’ve accomplished everything we set out to accomplish, would you be willing to give me a referral, act as a reference or write me a testimonial?"
I’ve never had a new client say, "No," to that question, unless there was some company policy against it, so there’s an astoundingly high chance you’ll get a "Sure" response.
After you complete the project, hold a meeting to go over the results. Assuming your client is satisfied, and you’ve done everything you set out to do, follow up like this:
"When we started this project, you agreed to give me referrals, act as a reference or write me a testimonial, provided we accomplished everything we set out to do. Are you still willing to do that?"
Use conditional commitments, and do quality work, to get all the referrals you need.
(3) Improve Your Timing
Think about how you feel on each of these days, and see if this logic makes sense:
Monday: People are more apt to be demanding and disagreeable, because they aren’t happy that the weekend is over, and because they’re too busy planning for the week ahead. Do something to help alleviate their stress, and leave your requests for later in the week.
Tuesday: Most people are more productive on Tuesday than any other day of the week. They also tend to be very stingy with their schedules, because they don’t want to get off track too early in the week. So, unless you’re already on the schedule, be careful asking for anything.
Wednesday: This is a swing day - unpleasantness will peak and then slowly begin to subside during the day. Since it’s a swing day, you need to learn your contacts’ unique behavior patterns, before asking for anything on Wednesdays.
Thursday: Most people are relaxed and compromising on Thursdays, because unpleasantness has subsided, and the end of the workweek is in sight. However, they also pay close attention to business, because Thursday is far enough away from the new weekend. This is typically your optimal day for asking for anything.
Friday: A good-mood day for most people, Friday is a great day to socialize and build relationships. However, many people don’t want to deal with new things on Friday, because they’ve got the weekend on their minds. So, instead of asking for something that requires thought and action, simply ask if you can get on next week’s schedule. (You’ll probably end up scheduled for Tuesday.)
Pay close attention to the responses you get when you ask for things, and see which day of the week works best for you.
Gill E Wagner