When you use the Stepping Stones© methodology, you're naturally pre-empting each of these, primarily if you use the pre-prepared list approach, to allow you and the client to laser focus your "Anybody's".
That's being professional. So if you use this approach, you shouldn't have clients respond as above.
If you hit a brick wall, treat them as knee jerk reactions.
I remember being fascinated as a child when the doctor would tap your leg just below the knee on the patellar tendon, causing a reflex action. We know this as the knee jerk reaction, and it's more commonly attributed to an immediate emotional, unthinking response produced by an event or statement to which the reacting person is highly sensitive.
Your client is probably stressed, thinking of their next meeting or their emails piling up and isn't giving your question the time it needs to process.
The response you'll get is:
- "I can't think of anyone."
- "I don't know anyone on the list."
In these situations, we acknowledge heavily with an "I understand", "I fully appreciate that", or "that's fine", but we must immediately respond just to take them out of their reflex action. Some of my favourites are:
- "If you can refer someone you know, there's not going to be any sales pressure at all, just an exploratory meeting to begin with."
- "Let's say hypothetically that we swapped jobs today. Out of interest, who would be the first three people you would call to generate business?"
- "If you had a housewarming party, who would be the first three people you invite?"