Where to Find Referrals
If you’re sure you’re connecting to your market and know what customers want and why they want it; if you know the emotional and logical impact of your service, and can describe it in a compelling way; and if you routinely give the best advice to your customers on what to buy – then you have a great opportunity to leverage every interaction with your customers and build relationships that can spread to their friends, vendors and neighbours. Do all these things. Not only will you stay in business, you’ll also smooth out the bumpy roads that occur, especially during tougher, competitive times.
Happy clients are a prerequisite to generating referrals. Stay in contact, by inviting them to value-added events such as: open houses, seminars, and webinars; and send them notes, articles, and reports so they can gain valuable learning. For example, BMW invites their customers to driving schools and race tracks. Cool! Hamilton Tiger Cats invite their platinum season ticket holders to meet the players at exclusive – and fun – pizza-and-beer gatherings. Best yet, if you send your customers notes of appreciation , offer them recognition or encouragement, or even send a birthday card or thank you note, you’ll really make them feel special. Make a big deal of them in your social networks, and do it with sincerity. Do whatever you can to be genuinely interested in your customers, and you’ll be implementing the best sales tool in existence.
Nothing abbreviates the sales cycle like a good referral. Nothing has a better payback – an almost 50% return to those companies who master it. Nothing beats this low-cost solution… NOTHING! Why is so much effort put into finding leads via websites, email marketing, social networks and advertising, often at the expense of taking care of customers and working from a database of referrals, those 40-50% who are pre-sold even before your sales or marketing team arrive?
Eventhough we know our customers will listen to and trust a friend before they would believe a business person or a marketing piece, we continue to disregard the power of a referral . As a result, too many companies merely pay lip-service to this important strategy, and neglect to implement a complete referral system. I don’t know why companies don’t employ this practice, even customers who pay our bills and salaries. Maybe the reason is that the internet de-personalized some important relationships when it allowed the buying and selling process to become automatic. As strange as this may sound, though, often there’s a more direct reason: some business people are uncomfortable asking for referrals. Some may feel they’re hounding their customers or invading their space, or just turning people off, and, of course, no one wants to do that. That is a valid point. Asking for and getting referrals must be done properly, or it’s a sure bet that customers are going to be turned off.
One thing is for sure: passively relying on happy customers’ word-of-mouth to do the work of finding customers just doesn’t cut it. Referrals are important – important enough that you should actively seek them out.
Those who succeed at making referrals work find that they contribute up to 75% of new business. These companies who understand the power of referrals usually do one or more of the following things:
- They whiteboard their entire system every year. They ask and answer these strategic questions: What is it like now? What could it be like? What do we need to improve? The companies who are on top of this important approach, fix the design and execute an automatic and methodical system that not only systematically gets referrals, but retains customers as well.
- Companies make sure that employees are connected to the system and know their part in implementing it.
- These companies remind clients to expect value-added services and the companies aren’t shy about telling their customers how they rely on referrals to build their business. They prepare their customers to be asked for referrals in a personalized way.
- They ask for referrals. They call clients and ask them to rate their services and describe the impact of their products or services. They tell their customers about the kinds of people/companies they work with – people just like the ones they’re talking to. And they ask customers if they know other people who could benefit as they did. The companies promise to be ethical and professional when they approach the referral. They might even ask the client about the best way to approach the referrals.
- They ask a client to mention that someone will be calling the referral to transmit a value-added service via a phone call or e-mail. And sometimes they ask the client to set up an introduction. If the customer appears uncomfortable about the suggestion, the business backs off. Instead they might just ask to use the customer’s name as a satisfied client.
- They call the referral and leave a thirty-second message stating the reason it would be good to talk. If they don’t hear back, then they follow up with an e-mail.
- They always follow-up with the customer who gave them the referral, to tell them what happened, and they always send a note of thanks.
These are not new insights, but they never stop working if they are carried out effectively, and with class.
o Don’t just depend on costly and passive internet marketing, social media marketing, or advertising with deals to build your sales.
o Know your market’s wants and motives.
o Create a unique selling proposition.
o Always deliver value-added services.
o Stay in contact with your customers.
o Build a referral system in which everyone is engaged and connected to their part.
o Ask for referrals.
o Approach the potential customers professionally.
o Thank your customer for the referral.
Take a few moments to think through these points:
- Does your team leverage every interaction with a customer to build a relationship and service, worth referring?
- Do you leverage that strength through a thought-out process of getting referrals?
- What will you do to take advantage of the best and lowest-cost system to grow your business – REFERRALS?
- Above all else, just start asking for them.
Have a great week!
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