It’s one thing to get the referral. It’s quite another to successfully set the appointment with the person to whom you were referred.

Sure, you were referred by someone your referred prospect knows, likes, and trusts. But it’s still easy to imagine what might be going on in his or her head. For example, “I don’t want to be bothered by a salesperson.” “I don’t need whatever he/she is selling.” “Is this person going to try to hard-sell me on buying their product or service?” Or even, “Am I about to hear a pitch for a network marketing opportunity?”

With that in mind, let’s utilize the teaching of one of my original prospecting mentors, Rick Hill. Rick’s method of contacting a referred prospect is the most effective and the most unintimidating I’ve ever experienced. I’ll actually paraphrase a few of Rick’s wise words, and add some of my own in order to apply them to our specific scenario.

He suggests giving the prospect a “back door” so that they feel totally comfortable with you, and not at all pressured. You: “Mr. Prospect, this is Jeanne Smith. Your name came up in a business conversation with Peggy Gallaso. I believe you know Peggy from the real estate association.”

Referred Prospect: “Yes, I do, we’re good friends. What can I do for you?”

You: “By the way, Peggy didn’t assume you’d be interested and, personally, neither do I. She just thought that you might like to take a look at a business idea we discussed. We could meet for a quick cup of coffee and I’ll run the idea past you.”

The first key part of that statement is, “Peggy didn’t assume you’d be interested and, personally, neither do I.”

Can you imagine a less threatening way to approach someone on the telephone? You’ve just told them they might not be interested, so there’s nothing for them to feel defensive about.

Then you assured them that, basically, you wouldn’t waste their time.

The phrases “quick cup of coffee” and “I’ll run the idea past you” are very effective—providing they’re true!— because in today’s fast-paced world, where everyone perceives themselves as being too busy, that kind of language assures people that you will be taking up no more of their valuable time than necessary.

Putting your referred prospect at ease, both in the lack of pressure and lack of time infringement, will greatly increase your odds of setting the appointment.

Again, you said, “By the way, Peggy didn’t assume you’d be interested and, personally, neither do I. She just thought that you might like to take a look at a business idea we discussed. We could meet for a quick cup of coffee and I’ll run the idea past you.”

Then add, “She did seem to feel very strongly that you would be.”

Referred Prospect: “Possibly. Sure. Can you tell me a little bit about it first?”

You: “I’m expanding an Internet, e-commerce-based project (or whatever it is that you do) with some very successful people, and we’re looking for some other entrepreneurs who might want to grab hold of this as well. (Or, if your referral source tells you this person is probably more interested in diversifying his income, you’d focus on that instead.) We might be able to make some money together.”

Notice that you didn’t try and hide what you were doing, as many network marketers still do. The so-called “curiosity approach” does have its place, to an extent. Naturally, you can’t effectively or properly present the business, or the products, over the telephone—any more than a doctor could do a checkup and provide a diagnosis over the telephone.

But you still need to give the person some idea of what it’s about. This works out for both of you, as you’ll be able to pre-qualify potential interest without giving away so much information that your prospect will make a major decision with very little relevant information. Those types of decisions usually result in a no.

Another key phrase, this learned from my clients, Joe Pici and Tom Armour, is the phrase, “We might be able to make some money together (or, again, whatever would be the applicable benefit).” Why is this important? Because, let’s face it: the very first thing your prospect is thinking is, “What do you want from me?” and its corollary, “What’s in it for you?”

You are telling him right off the bat. You can make some money “together.”

Set the appointment, and then you can help that person derive the benefits from your exceptional opportunity, product or service.

Bob Burg is author of Endless Referrals and Winning Without Intimidation, and a free weekly e-zine (www.burg.com) on networking.