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Finding referrals and overcoming objections

Liz DeCarlo

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Work with clients without fearing rejection and get referrals without asking.

Overcoming a fear of rejection

Rejection is just an opinion, and one thing we have plenty of is opinions. Everyone has them, and they can’t wait to tell you how they feel about something. But rejection is nothing more than an opinion and the preference of the rejecter. It’s probably just as much about the rejecter as the rejected. However, we mistake it with some sort of universal truth about who we are and take it personally.

It’s a fear of rejection that really cripples us. In fact, the people who really changed the world, who changed the way we live, the way we think and how we treat each other, were all met with initial and often violent rejection. But they didn’t run.

People like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela did not let rejection define them. They let their own reaction after rejection define themselves. And they embraced rejection.

You don’t have to be these people to embrace rejection. When you get rejected, instead of running away ask yourself, “Am I worthy of this rejection?”

We’re afraid of rejection because we think it’s so negative and scary. We lose sometimes. We feel like we’re getting something negative when we hear "no," so by avoiding the negative we’re achieving that positive, right?

That’s just a lie. A lie so we can stay comfortable. When you are not out there getting rejected because you’re afraid, you are rejecting yourself as a default. If anyone’s going to reject you, let the world reject you and never reject yourself.

— Jia Jiang, founder of Wuju Learning

Referrals without asking

Asking for referrals can be difficult. Kyriakos Chatzistefanou acknowledges this, and it’s why he has developed an approach that gets referrals without asking directly.

When Chatzistefanou, an 11-year MDRT member from Thessaloniki, Greece, is meeting with one of his best clients, he begins a friendly discussion with a few targeted prompts:

  • “I’d like to hear about the experience we’ve had together.” This statement encourages the client to reflect on what they’ve enjoyed about working with Chatzistefanou. He follows with questions to help them crystallize their thoughts, such as asking what they learned from the process.
  • “What would you tell others about the work we’ve done together?” This very subtly suggests the client should talk to others about their experience working with him.
  • “Who are the first two people who come to mind that you would tell?” Chatzistefanou is helping them come up with names to refer to him, without ever directly asking them.
  • “What is going on in their life that makes it important for them to meet with me?” This question helps Chatzistefanou begin to learn about significant life changes that could make them a good prospect, and it reinforces the idea he should meet with them.
  • “When did you last meet with them?” If it’s a family member or colleague the client sees regularly, Chatzistefanou can assume they are up to date with what’s going on in the prospect’s life. If it has been longer — say, a year — then he has more work to do to complete the picture.

Chatzistefanou updates a running document with everything he’s learned about the prospect. This gives him specific areas to cover in his first outreach to the referral he never actually had to ask for.


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