recruiter developer

Don’t let ‘referral fear’ impact on your sales results

In the past when coaching Recruiters around the sales elements of their role one of the first things I looked at are their conversion ratios and activity levels. This is a powerful exercise of understanding where the weak link in the sales chain may be.  Almost without exception when I tackled the subject of referrals, I am reassured that they are being asked for consistently.  But when you start to closely examine the actual activities there were gaps, big gaps.   Sure, they may have had the best of intentions but the commitment shows through actions and nothing else. The activities did not often demonstrate a real commitment to making referrals happen.

Referrals (and by a long shot) is one of the most effective ways to increase new business and get a bigger market share of existing business.  One of the many advantages of referrals is that the sales conversion rate is much higher.  In Sales Prospecting for Dummies, author Tom Hopkins claims that the average sales closing ratio for non-qualified leads is only 10% compared to a 60% close ratio for referred leads.

It’s not difficult to understand this better conversion rate.

A referral has built-in credibility that reduces the risk new clients might feel in doing business with you.

The client is half-sold on doing business with you even before contacting your business.

So why is it that most people are not fully committed to being proactive with referrals?

Simple! It’s fear.

Here are the 2 biggest fears that I hear:


  1. Asking clients for referrals will hurt my relationship with them

No it won’t!  Not if you ask in the right way – one that simply doesn’t hurt relationships.

When you use a client centred approach to ask a client for referrals, the client will either give you referrals when you ask, give them later or won’t give you referrals at all. But you’ll NEVER hurt the relationship.

2. Asking for referrals will make me look desperate or unsuccessful.

Wrong again!  Ask in the right way and at the right time.

You just need to find a way to ask for referrals in a way that comes from a position of strength; that comes from a position of success. Make it all about the value you bring and the confidence you have in your ability to help people.

If you take just 10 minutes everyday to think about 5 people and they gave you 2 names each.  You instantly have 10 people to call, right now!  Apply the same principle over and over again, and watch your network grow before your eyes… literally.  A bit like LinkedIn but these are real relationships, with real offline people that have the opportunity to add real value to not only you but each other.

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