I Have a Referral for You

Making Referral Business Your Business


How to turn even your toughest client into a referral source

When I was selling Acuras, I’d reached a very comfortable and rewarding 70% repeat and referral business. The breakdown is what’s important to note… While 30% of that total business came from repeat buyers, that number was only trumped by the amount of referral business, responsible for 40% of my total sales. Said another way, 4 out of 10 clients that bought from me, were referred by previous clients.

Now, I don’t care what your product or service is – referrals are where it’s at! What higher compliment could you receive from an existing client, than their referrals? Let’s face it – Whether they showed it or not, this client was impressed with you. So impressed, in fact, they were willing to put their name and reputation on the line.

This is a win-win-win:

For your existing client, they know how much their friend will appreciate them for having found you. For the referred client, the weight of anxiety and lack of trust [Read more…]

It’s All in the Details (Part 2 of 2)

What are the Details Saying About You? (Part 2 of 2)

4 ways to make details work for you — not against you.

In part one, we talked about taking notice of the details (large and small) that are ‘saying something‘ to people about you and your business. Some of these details are already working against you and you may not even be aware of what they are – I see it all the time. So, as promised, here are four ways to begin having the details work for you:

1. Walk Through Your Own Process as Your Client

Are you seeing what your clients see? Routinely, I’ll sit for several minutes in the “client” chair to see what I see. We spend so much time in our own chairs that we forget (or neglect) to take a look at our environment through the eyes of our clients, customers and guests. Can they see dust on your computer monitor? Will they touch gum, or get poked by [Read more…]

It’s ALL in the Details (Part 1 of 2)

What are the Details Saying About You? (Part 1 of 2)

How You’re Creating the BIGGEST Impression Even with the Smallest of Things

Recently, I was waiting to meet a client at a restaurant. While pecking away on my laptop, I noticed one employee jumping up and down near the wall. It turns out he was trying to see if there was any dust on the top ledge of the wall-mounted coat rack. Later, I saw this same gentleman removing wall decorations for dusting.

The folks at this restaurant must realize something most businesses completely miss – it’s all in the details. As a patron, when you see dust on decorations, ceiling fans, or even in restrooms, what do you “make true” (assume to be true) about that establishment? You see, every detail you notice – both consciously and unconsciously – goes into your mental bag of evidence. No matter how much or how little evidence you’ve collected, your first impression has already been formed about an establishment; an individual; a company.

This becomes your “truth.” It may not be THE truth, but it is your truth … which IS the truth … to you. This begs the question, what are your clients “making true” about you?

Stained Ceiling TileA friend who owns a business recently received some (very valuable) feedback from a client. It was all positive and generous comments and compliments about their overall experience and the products … then this client said, “… but have you noticed that you have a few stained ceiling tiles?”   [Read more…]

Creating The Experience

Are they buying a product, service, or … an experience?

Clyde's Tower Oaks Lodge, RockvilleThis Rockville, Md. restaurant is busy … even on the “slowest” night of the week

I’ve lived in the same area for nearly 38 years and had never known about a particular road in Rockville until Clyde’s Tower Oaks Lodge opened up. It’s completely off the beaten path and although located among office buildings, feels like a ski lodge tucked away in a vacation hotspot. The entrance to the property – a beautiful custom designed wooden archway that guides you onto the year-round porch from the complimentary valet parking stop – sets the tone. The well-manicured grounds are home to a pond complete with waterfall and misty fog. To enter the restaurant’s grand lobby, you pull on a custom-carved tree branch door handle. Opening off the lobby are several dining rooms and two spacious bars. This place has it all – consistently great food, knowledgeable service and a friendly atmosphere. The staff here truly creates a memorable experience; and the restaurant is always busy – even on Monday nights!

But you don’t have to spend millions of dollars, like the owners of Clyde’s have, to create a unique customer experience. Take, for example, [Read more…]

Is Speaking Your #1 Fear?

 Nervousness is Selfish Energy

5 Techniques to Presenting … Comfortably and Confidently [originally posted Jan. ’09]

I recently caught a TV interview with Billy Joel’s wife (Katie Lee Joel). Knowing that millions of people would be watching, a friend gave her some of the best advice I’ve ever heard – that friend began by stating, “Nervousness is selfish energy.” – more on this below.

What has your nervousness cost you up till now? Do you regret not having taken an opportunity to speak at any of the following?

  • Client Meetings
  • Company Meetings
  • Peer Groups
  • Funerals For Loved Ones
  • Parties or Celebrations
  • Seminars or Conferences
  • Networking Functions

Is public speaking your #1 fear? If so, you are certainly not alone. All too often we miss opportunities to speak and share. Your experiences, successes, failures and stories all reflect valuable life lessons … especially when shared with others.

1. Nervousness is Selfish Energy

You see it all the time: pacing, shallow breathing, pocket-change-jingling, lack of eye contact and sweating. Why do people get so nervous? The answer is simple – they’re focused on … themselves. How selfish! When you’re in front of a group, make it about them … not you. Focus on the value you bring to your audience and what you want to communicate, convey and contribute.
The moment you focus on others and give up your need to “look good,” you’ll discover a profound shift in your ability to present and you’ll appear much more human. (Of course, a little nervousness is perfectly normal)

2. What’s Your Story?

For thousands of years, we’ve communicated effectively through storytelling. Stories don’t have to be memorized and usually should not be rehearsed, especially if they’re derived from personal experience. Telling stories will put you and your audience at ease. Whatever point(s) you want to make can be illustrated energetically and memorably with a story.

As a trainer, I could spend hours listing the facts, tips, tricks and techniques about delivering great customer service or I could share a couple of powerful stories, drawing from my own personal experiences – one about using frequent flyer points to book international travel on a major airline, and another about a debacle that ensued when I tried to order a guitar for my then-girlfriend’s birthday gift. Which method do you think would be more memorable, compelling, engaging and natural?

3. Press Pause

Remember, you know the material, but your audience usually doesn’t. That’s why you’re the one on stage. So take it slow and don’t let nerves cause you to hurry through your presentation. One of the biggest mistakes I see, is a presenter rushing through a very important – sometimes profound – point.
Keep in mind that listeners can’t process everything they hear, as quickly as you can speak it. In order for your words to fully sink in, you must allow a little time for processing. Pause briefly after making an important point and watch the faces in your audience. You’ll see the “light bulbs” after a second or two. Had you simply continued speaking, however, they likely would have missed your excellent point. Don’t rob the audience of the value your comments bring. (Pausing also gives you a moment to gather your own thoughts, before moving forward.)

4. Death by PowerPoint

I’ve seen so many folks hide behind a PowerPoint presentation to lessen nervousness. However, you, as the presenter, are the star of the show – not your slides. When the projector comes on (and the lights go off), a boring slide show may be turning spectators into zombies. But PowerPoint itself isn’t the enemy, non-strategic delivery of PowerPoint is. If you’re using slides, here are a few crucial tips:

  • Use pictures and/or video instead of text, whenever possible (remember, a picture is worth a thousand words)
  • Use bullet points (never paragraphs) and a large, easy-to-read font
  • Don’t read the text that’s on the screen. Bor-ing! (this won’t even be an issue if you’re following the last point)
  • Display bullet points one at a time (otherwise the audience will read ahead)
  • Use a remote control to advance slides, not your laptop or an assistant using your laptop (this will allow you to move about the room – motion creates e-motion – and present seamlessly)
  • When you’re not referring to slides, turn the projector off, (this action is usually a feature of your remote control)
  • Keep the lights on inside the room (slides with large black text on a white background will usually make this possible)
  • Take the time to get comfortable with your material in advance, so you can treat bulleted slides as you would bulleted note cards, using them only to keep you on your intended path

5. There’s a Friendly Face

If you’re the scheduled speaker/presenter, show up early and meet as many people as you can. Making connections beforehand will help you feel as though you’re speaking to friends, not strangers.

As you look out into the crowd, know that there’s always going to be someone who appears to be judging you – sitting with arms folded, brow furrowed and wearing a skeptical look. Don’t let this throw you – you have no idea what this person is really thinking (I often sit in an audience with arms folded, simply for back comfort). As you speak, try not to focus your attention on anyone that makes you feel substandard or self-conscious. Remember, there will also be a fan – smiling and nodding, with eyes fixated on you. You’ll never convert the seeming skeptic, so look to your “fans” instead. Let their positive energy be your fuel.


Much as an irritating grain of sand forms the basis of a pearl, so can discomfort yield personal growth. Step outside of your comfort zone, especially if you’ve never presented. Cross that bridge and watch it get easier each and every time.

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson – 1803-1882, Poet and Essayist