The Art of Earning the Right to Ask for Referrals
Earning the Right to Ask for a Referral
When you ask for a referral, it’s important to understand the dynamics of the situation. You need to know what you want from your customer in order to be able to ask them for a referral. Think about what your customer is looking for when they are referring someone else. What, if anything, do they want in return? The relationship between customers and businesses are always one-sided, so you need to be focused on what you can provide to your customer before you ask them for referrals. So, how do you get that opportunity? That’s where referrals come into play!
Providing Great Service
If you provide great service, chances are that your customers will be more than willing to refer their family, friends, and acquaintances. But in order to do this, you have to give them reasons why they should! There are many ways you can make the case for referrals: - Share your company’s history and mission. - Focus on your brand’s best assets. - Give away freebies for referrals. - Ask for referrals at the end of a service interaction. The key is finding ways to incentivize referrals from your customers and business network so that you can get the most out of them. When you’re able to turn those potential customers into referral partners, you get more leads and ultimately more profit.
Listening to Your Customers and Following Through
Listening to your customers is the first step in getting referrals. When you listen, you'll become aware of what they're saying and what they need. If a customer tells you about a referral opportunity, be sure to follow up with them for a personal thank-you note, email about special offers for their next visit and/or purchase, or card in the mail. Not only will this provide an excellent way to build rapport with your customers and show how much you value their business, but also it could lead to more frequent purchases or increased customer engagement if you keep your promise and send something special. But perhaps most importantly? You'll have lots of conversations with people who know your business well and who can help share your brand with personal and social media connections. This is why following through on promises like this will almost always pay off!
First, start building your professional network. This is a great way to get referrals and continue to expand your business. Have you seen the success of people like Mark Cuban? He got his first million by networking with people in his field. Next, work on getting referrals from your existing customers and business network. This is an excellent way to show them that you’re a trustworthy person who they can count on in the future. Ask them what other businesses they think would be interested in working with you. People feel much more inclined to give referrals when they know that their friends or family will benefit as well. This strategy will ensue that you are asking for and receiving quality referrals.
Becoming a Trusted Advisor
In order to be a trusted advisor, you need to first build trust with your customers. One way to do this is by simply asking them what they like about your business and address any issues they might have. This builds a trusting relationship with your customer and makes them more likely to refer you. Other ways to build trust include giving back to the community, and offering informative news articles related to topics of interest. Once your customers trust you, it’s time for the referral process.
How to Ask for the Referral
Now that you have listened to your customers, provided great service to them, and have become a trusted partner, you have earned the right to ask for the referral! Depending on the type of business you are in, there are 2 ways you can ask for the referral from your client.
1. Suggested Method - Once the solution is in place, follow up 3 days after the install and training. Then follow up once a week for 30 days. Schedule a 30-day review with your client, and if they are happy with the solution provided, ask for the referral!
2. Closing Method – Once paperwork is signed, gently hand the client a sheet of paper and ask them to right down 3 names that you could call on.
In either one of the 2 methods mentioned above, ask the client if they would call the referred client for you to let them know that you will be calling. Tell the client that you will be following up with the referral on a scheduled date, and ask your client if they would be able to contact them between now and the date you will be calling the referral.
Getting Endorsements, Case Studies and Reviews
If your customer is willing to refer their friends, family, and business acquaintances with you, they may also be willing to endorse you on LinkedIn, allow you to do a case study on them, or provide you or your company an online review. Having client testimonials in your tool box will enhance your prospecting efforts tremendously because they are real and authentic customers that you can reference.
Rewarding Your Clients for Referring Business to You
Following up and thanking your customers for referrals is a box that has to be checked. Here are some ways you can thank your clients for referrals.
- Send a hand written thank-you note
- Create a loyalty program that incentivizes for referral
- Create a video, Image, or blog content for their business to share on social media
- Provide them with a gift card
- Take them to lunch
- If they like golf, send them some golf balls
- Get creative!
These tactics are budget-friendly and make it easy for people to refer their friends and family members because these incentives come in many different forms.
Tracking Your Referrals
You should keep track of where your referrals and leads are coming from as well because you can get valuable insight into where your customers are coming from, whether that's social media, other websites, or word-of-mouth. In addition to using a CRM system, keep a spreadsheet of the client’s contact information and the people that they refer. If a lead comes from social media, or any other external source outside of you contacting the customer (review our blog on sales calls), place that in your spreadsheet as well, so that you can utilize your marketing efforts more effectively.