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Many salespeople believe that their particular industry doesn't encourage referrals and, as a result, don't ask. Typically, this myth evolves because people expect that referrals will just fall into their laps because they do a good job. When these referrals don't materialize, they assume that referrals are just not possible in their business.

Truthfully, there are very few industries where referrals just happen, so the rest of us have to work hard to get referrals. When salespeople help the referral process to move forward by being proactive, they often find that referrals are a great way to find new prospects.

Unfortunately, clients and associates are not actively looking to refer people to you. This may happen in some businesses, but only a few. The rest of us need to engage all the contacts that we have -- family, friends, business associates, clients, etc.

To do this, first describe your ideal prospect, because often our clients and associates truly don't know what we are looking for. The second step is simple (but often overlooked). Ask them for referrals! There is no rule that states that salespeople can't ask clients and associates whether they know of anyone who might benefit from their product or service.

Of all the people within our spheres of influence, 20% will give us referrals without asking, 20% won't give a referral even if asked, and that leaves 60% of our contacts who will give a referral if we ask them for it! Try to target these people with a systematic way of gathering referrals and you'll be pleasantly surprised by how well referrals can work.

Make a referral list for yourself by writing down all those individuals who might have a good referral for you and set a goal for how many referrals you would like them to give to you (at least two). Once you have closed business from those referrals, branch off from that second group and set another goal for asking them for referrals.

If you continue this process of asking each group for more referrals, you will see how a handful of people can make a big number of prospects, and then how those prospects will lead to more prospects. The key is to start asking!

Most likely, your contacts won't remember to refer business to you unless a prospect asks them about your service or product. We all know this happens rarely in business. Instead, ask them who they know who might benefit from speaking with you. It never hurts to ask! And by asking consistently, we receive referrals consistently.

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