I've just come off the phone to a good friend who told me that she 'pimped me out' this morning. She had met someone who is in a position to use my services as a speaker for his team and recommended my services to him.
My friend is constantly 'pimping me out'. She constantly advocates my books, my videos and my talks and I really appreciate it. She clearly values what I do (we met after a talk I delivered a few years ago) and wants other people to benefit from the same advice. That's brilliant.
Unfortunately, neither my phone nor email are overloaded with enquiries from the people to whom she has spoken about me. I can't pinpoint a single client who I have won as a result of her advocacy.
I don't mean to sound ungrateful for her support. I'm not. It means the world to me when anyone tells others about me and who feels that passionately about my work. But I'm sure that she would want those conversations to have led to more opportunities for me to help the people in her network.
There's a very simple reason they haven't. It's not down to a flaw in her advocacy, it's down to a lack of action on the part of the people she's speaking to.
You see, my friend has been 'recommending' me, rather than referring me. There is a very subtle difference but it's a powerful one.
The difference lies in control. Who controls the next step of the connection.
In Recommended: How to Sell Through Networking and Referrals, I talk about 'Three Steps to Referral Heaven'.
1. Someone has a problem or desire that you can solve or meet
2. They know that you might provide a solution and are interested in a conversation
3. They are expecting your call.
When my friend recommends me she takes the first two steps but then leaves control in the hands of the person who might benefit from doing business with me. They have the choice of whether to follow up or not. If they do and they engage with me, then that's great. I can build a relationship from there and hopefully work with them.
If they don't, there's nothing I can do about it.
However, if she refers me, getting them to expect my call, I can then follow up and make contact myself.
To do so, all that needs to happen once the other person has clearly shown some interest in what I do, is for my friend to say, "shall I ask Andy to call you?"
Seven words but they make all the difference.
Once they have indicated agreement to receiving my call, I am in control. My friend can introduce us and I have permission to follow up. The chances of that initial conversation turning into business have just multiplied.
So, do I want you to recommend my services? Of course I do! The title of this blog might be a trifle misleading, I love it when people tell others about what I do.
But would I much prefer that you referred me?