Last week, I had a client workshop in Cleveland and a keynote speech in San Diego to about 150 business owners, and a similar interesting thing happened in both of them:

In the all-day client workshop, during a portion on referrals, I turned to the owner, my client, who was sitting in the audience, and demonstrated how to ask for a referral — by actually asking him for a referral in front of the room. It was not pre-planned, and as my clients know, it’s what I do. There were some long pauses as he thought about who to connect me with, but in about two minutes, we had a name and timing for the introduction laid out. As I debriefed the interaction and the language with the audience, they talked about how it was uncomfortable to watch this process.

Here’s the thing — I wasn’t uncomfortable. The salespeople and customer service people were projecting their discomfort with asking for referrals on to our demonstration. 

In San Diego, in a beautiful room at Balboa Park, we had a consultant and his customer in the audience. I asked the consultant to describe his business and got the usual two sentences of dry system-process-technique talk. Then I turned to the customer, and he told me how the consultant had grown his business sevenfold; and how his staff loves the consultant’s staff; and how the owner is a good friend and a good man. Who do you think sold the consultant better? Afterwards, multiple people in the audience described the process as fascinating, highly educational, but also uncomfortable to watch.

Once again, I was not uncomfortable. Neither was the customer, in his genuine, warm feedback about the consultant.

So, whose discomfort is it when it comes to asking for referrals, testimonials, and even calling customers?

Our customers are perfectly comfortable.

The discomfort is ours.

 The customer is happy to give referrals, because he gets to help us, and his friend, and he looks good, and he also gains leverage over us, the party that benefits from his referral.

The customer is pleased to give us feedback on our work, just as she is happy to talk to us when we call. Nobody calls any more. Want to stand out from the crowd? Call your customer.

And for the sake of your family, get over your discomfort with communicating directly with your customers. Your customers deserve your call. You deserve the testimonials and referrals. And your family deserves the revenue that results.

Want to teach your staff how to systematically ask for testimonials, referrals and call your customers and prospects proactively? Call me at 847-459-6322 or reply to this email to discuss a revenue growth project at your firm. 


About Alex

I'm a market strategist, consultant, coach and speaker for product and services companies that are looking for dramatic growth and increased revenues.

My clients include Fortune 500 firms like Amazon and Sprint - as well as publicly traded companies like Logitech, TiVo, Virgin Mobile and Yelp.

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