Asking Questions for Better Referrals

As business owners we are often too eager to share information about our business that we miss the opportunity to properly scope out a prospective client’s needs. A person just has to mention something related to our services and we go into “Sell and Tell” mode – almost like a walking brochure.

As bad as that is for our own business this would be even worse for us looking out for referrals for our colleagues in our business referral groups (like BNI CBD Evolve). We mean well but by putting forward one of our colleagues too soon we could appear pushy/salesy, our client’s needs won’t be well defined and we could end up wasting both our colleague’s and our clients time. This more often than not ends up being a cold lead rather than a warm referral.

The secret to better referrals is to ask questions and let our client talk about their issues and business challenges. By asking and listening we end up focusing on the problem, uncovering a need and then connecting a solution with that need. A common Sales methodology that enables us to ask the right questions is the SPIN Methodology.

SPIN is a serious of leading questions that opens the doors to opportunity. Below are the types of questions applied in the context of one of the BNI CBD Evolve Members Riccardo Leggio from Vericom:

  • Situation Questions set the scene and allow us to understand what is going on with a client’s business:
    • Riccardo – Are you moving offices?
    • Riccardo – Are you opening up a new office in the near future?
  • Problem Questions uncover any challenges that the client might be experiencing in their business
    • Riccardo – Is your IT guy contactable and proactive?
    • Riccardo – Are your systems reliable? Are they up when you need them?
  • Impact Questions allow the client to quantify and qualify the impact of a particular problem/challenge to them and their business.
    • Riccardo – What’s the impact to the business if you can’t get in touch with your IT Guy and your systems are down
  • Needs Identification uncover the explicit needs that a client has and helps you connect a solution with their problems.
    • Riccardo – If I could introduce you to someone that is proactive and is always contactable would you be keen to chat

By asking the right questions we uncover better referrals for ourselves and our colleagues and we add a lot more value to our clients.