by Elronn Ferguson
At least 30% of any hypnotists practice is dependent upon referrals. The great thing about a referral is that its instant business, meaning there is little or no selling that has to be done in order to close the prospect into using your services, saving a lot of time and energy. In a business with high client turnover, developing a way to receive consistent referrals can make or break you in long term business.
One of the biggest mistakes many people in professional service related industry can make is falling into the belief that if your services are good, you will acquire adequate referrals from your satisfied clients. This is something that can become very frustrating for the practitioner when six months into your practice, (or even 6 years) you are not getting the referrals that you think you should be getting. The stack of testimonials is growing, yet your base of referrals leaves something to be desired.
Out of the many resources that exist on how to get referrals, I have picked a few that I think deserve to be highlighted, including what I believe to be the single most effective way to consistently get your clients to be in your corner fighting for you.
Make yourself a resource:
This concept can be applied two ways:
Networking: Instead of trying to overtly sell your services and make a case for yourself by telling people what you do, try alternating with offering free advice or tips in your area of specialty. Let people know that you are available to answer questions and give insight at any time. Bring articles you have written, offer free tips on how to relax better, sleep easier, or how to think about stress. Do whatever you can to be known more as a reliable resource with your finger on the pulse, rather than someone who wants business. Position yourself as the obvious expert in your field of making helping people become more successful, by being generous with the information and the tools that you have at your disposal.
In the office: If you have any information that you can position as “client only”, and then give it to your client. Whether this is a handout or a little laminated card with affirmations on it, find something tangible to give them. Also, make sure that they know communication is a two way street, and can call your office number at any time with questions. Most questions will only take a few minutes, and are worth everything in terms of eliciting further involvement and developing greater rapport. Convey something like, “Since you are now my client, call me if you have any questions or concerns.” If the client feels privileged to have you as a resource they will be more likely to talk about you to others. Make them feel proud to have you as their advocate.
Provide incentives or rewards:
This can take many different forms. Some practitioners make it known in their marketing materials that every referral receives a free gift which is sent right away when someone books for an appointment. Gift cards can do well in this category, as does providing them with free self hypnosis CD’s or relevant books.An incentive which can be offered to clients who have a particular love of what you do, is to make it known that you give discounted or free sessions for every referral that comes your way from their efforts.
Give them something to talk about:
This is why it is so important to master and implement the use of hypnotic convincers on your clients. If you are 5-PATH trained, then you have a good understanding of how to make sure the client doesn’t fail before you give them overt tests and convincers. Adding an extra arm catalepsy convincer or glove anesthesia will compel your client to talk about your session with greater frequency.
Most importantly, ask them what their friends or family think about their hypnosis success. Encourage them to talk about it, and work with their perceptions to cultivate the idea that hypnosis is a “cool” process to engage in. A lot of people still think that getting hypnotized for their problems is something that they should keep secret or that they should tell other people “after they are successful”. Nothing could be farther from the truth in many respects. First, when the client talks about their success in hypnosis, it asserts to their subconscious mind that they are really making this change. Secondly, it can engender support from other people that can share in the excitement your client is experiencing. If the client talks about their experiences while working with you it enhances our profession, as we can position ourselves closer to the first line of defense for people and their challenges.
Ask at the right times:
This is the most important tip of this whole article. If you remember only one thing it will be the following concept. Most people are afraid to ask for referrals from their clients, or feel awkward doing so. This is mainly because the timing has to be just right so as not to come across as hungry for business. Here’s the secret: Whenever your client expresses a favorable comment for what you have done for them, or whenever they say “thank you”, you have the perfect opportunity to ask them for a referral. Simply put: The moment of “Thank you” is the moment you ask for the referral.
Example: During your appointment, whether the client just arrived or is about leave, at some point they say something like “Thank you, I feel great” or “I have been feeling so much better lately”. You say something like:“I’m so glad to know you’re benefiting from these sessions, if you know anyone else who you think would need my help, please don’t hesitate to send them here.”
Fostering the referral during this period of excitement is critical. Sometimes you can suggest that you will give anyone they send a discount on their behalf. This adds to the “preferred customer” status that you are building with them. Be certain to say things like, “We do it all the time”, or “You’re going to feel even better”, or “Just think about how many people need this.” What you are doing is letting the client know that this is what you enjoy doing, and you take pride in your profession. Exuding confidence like this will foster their confidence to refer anyone they think would benefit from coming in.
From now on let the following behavior become a conditioned response. Try it out!
Client: “Thank you.”
You: “If you know anyone else who needs this, send them in and I’ll give them a discount on your behalf.”
Lastly, remember to say “Thank you” back. Thank you can come in the form of a card you send to them, or even a call. If your client feels appreciated, the intrinsic reward for that recognition will keep the motivation alive for continued recommendation of your services.
Research shows that people are most likely to refer to your services in the first 30 days. After that, enthusiasm wanes. As much as we like to think that our clients will never forget us, life has a way of making people too busy to prioritize recommending their hypnotist as their hobby. Learn how to ride the waves of the client’s perceptions of success and ask when the time is right.
Take the following statement to heart: Being good does not mean you will get any referrals. Try these tips out and I wonder if your business will increase to what it could be. Ask and you shall receive.