Over the past 30 days you have purchased many items and services. If you are like most of us, you are completely satisfied with the products and services you purchased. But how many of the sellers have you recommended to your friends, family, and colleagues? If you are completely satisfied, why haven't you recommended the sellers to others?

I know you are busy; it is not at the top of your mind, not a priority. You have come to expect satisfaction from the sellers you buy from. You just have not thought about it.

Well, the same thing is happening to you and your business. You are losing many, many profitable customers every day because your satisfied buyers are not recommending you to their friends, family, and colleagues.

Plus, you are spending far more money advertising and promoting than you need to, thus robbing your bottom line. And it is entirely your fault. But, you can do something about it now.

According to USA Today, buyers are influenced most by referrals from others: 26.7 percent; newspaper inserts: 20.3 percent; in-store promotions: 18.9 percent; article on product: 18.8 percent; and TV broadcast: 18.6 percent. The bottom line is this: Gaining referrals from a satisfied customer will increase your sales.

Ask, Ask, Ask

After you have made a sale to a satisfied customer, all you have to do is ask three questions. Have the three questions typed and the paper in front of the satisfied customers when you ask the questions.

1. Have I provided you with the product and/or service that will solve your problem?

2. Are you totally satisfied with the service I have given you?

3. Will you recommend me to your friends, family, and colleagues?

Now, all you have to do is ask for some names. Yes, it is that simple. Satisfied customers will help you grow your business if you are aggressive enough to simply ask them to help you.

Not all of your satisfied customers will give you referrals, but enough will to make a major difference in your bottom line if you ask, ask, ask, and ask for referrals. You may have to ask more than once. They are busy people, and, like you, giving referrals is not their top priority.

Give Them A Choice

Here are some easy ways to ask for referrals after you have asked the three questions.

  • Would it be more convenient for you to give me three or four names of your colleagues, or shall I telephone you tomorrow?

  • Which would you prefer, I telephone you tomorrow or stop by for a list of your business colleagues I can contact?

  • Shall I or Mary (office manager) contact you later this week for three or four people you feel I can help like I have helped you?

    You get the idea. Giving them a choice gives them the feeling of control, and people will more readily do what you want them to do when they feel they are in control.

    The top sales producers go one step further. The top sales producers are more aggressive and ask the satisfied client to telephone or write a letter to the referral. As before, if you have provided the customer with a product and/or service that has solved their problem, all you have to do is ask them to make the call or write the letter.

    You may have to ask more than once, but you have the right to ask them if you have delivered what you promised and they (using the three questions) told you they would refer you to their friends, family, and colleagues. All you have to do is give them a choice:

    "Bill, which would you prefer to recommend me to three or four of your colleagues this week by telephoning them or by writing them a short note that I will mail for you to save you time?"

    Increase your sales and profits by simply asking for referrals. After all, referrals influence what people buy more than anything else.

    Bob Janet is a sales consultant, trainer, speaker, and author of "Join The Profit Club." He can be reached at 800-286-1203 or Bob@BobJanet.com.

    Publication date: 09/12/2005