As entrepreneurs we realize that gaining clients and growing our business is critical to being successful. Easier said than done! Right? Wrong!
One of the simplest and most effective ways that I have found to grow my business is to ask for referrals from both my current and past clients. There is no better way to explode your business into overdrive than to ask those clients who know, like and trust you, to refer you to someone you can provide that same service to!
Most of us tend not to be very good at asking for referrals. However, we need to move past the anxiety of “the ask” and realize that our current and past clients are an essential key to our business growth! Word- of- mouth is the best form of marketing and asking for a referral could be the gateway to more clients, if it is done correctly!
Develop a Strategy
There is more to asking for a referral than just making “the ask”. Having a strategy, and a process, is key. It allows you to track metrics for your referrals such as – Where did the referral come from? How did you follow up on it,? Did that referral become a client immediately? and so on. It also enables you to make improvements to your process in areas that you found you were weak on.
How referrals create a snowball effect
If your clients are happy to be working with you, they will be happy to recommend you to a friend or college who could also benefit from your products or services.
Begin by creating what I refer to as a Gang of 5. This is a list of 5 businesses that cater to the same target market as you and whose services compliment yours. Open the door by giving them a referral and they in turn will provide you with a referral. It is the law of reciprocity – you will get referrals when you give referrals!
Remember that giving and getting referrals is not a once off activity. It is something that you must be diligent about and do on a continuous basis. Make a point to give a referral a day and look forward to watching the law of reciprocity in action as referrals for your services come rolling in.
If you have been in business for any length of time I have no doubt you have been on the receiving end of a referral. You should analyze how that came about.
If you overlook this step you could miss out on opportunities for getting the right referrals for you and your business. By tracking the who, what, when, where, how and why of the referral you can recognize the consistencies in how your referrals find you.
- Where did the referral come from? How did you obtain the referral?
- How did the referrer describe you?
- Did the referral need you immediately, become a client eventually, never become a client but kept in touch?
- How did they contact you? Email introduction, social media, phone call, etc.
- Did I educate the referrer as to how to describe me and my services when making a referral?
- Note: It is your job to educated the referrer on how you would like to be described as well as the be clear on the target market that you serve
- How did you accept the referral and follow up with it?
- Is the referral a client today?
The answer to these questions help you determine the actions you need to take going forward.
Now that you have got answers to those questions you can create a process for getting referrals in the future.
Start by creating a log or spreadsheet that will log all of your referrals. Then, track the answers to the questions asked previously and you have a process to build upon.
Occasionally look back at the answers and make adjustments to the areas that you feel you could improve on.
It is important that you understand why your referrer would give you a referral. Is it because they like you? Because they are receiving remuneration in exchange for it? Because of the excellent work you have done in the past?
What kind of referrals do you want?
Be sure that your referrer is clear on who your target market is so they can identify prospects you do your best work with.
Where will you find your referrals, and where can you help those who will send referrals to you?
A LinkedIn profile can be your eyes into one of your contacts “Little Black Book”. Browse a friend’s connections and ask for a referral if you come across someone who you would like to be introduced to.
How will the referral be made?
It is your responsibility to let your referrers know how you want to be described, contacted and who your target market it. Be sure to articulate this information clearly.
Seize the Day
Don’t wait until your referral process is perfected. Start today even if your process isn’t in place. You don’t want to miss a potential opportunity!
The bottom line is that you have to ASK! So, start TODAY!
Equally as important as having a pre-referral process, you must also have a process on how to follow up after the referral has been made.
Part of the follow up process is more than saying thank you. You must also add value by:
- Keeping in touch with your latest services or products
- Offering free information that you know would benefit their business
- Send them articles you think they may be interested in
Just as important, keep the referrer informed on how things progress with the referral and be sure to thank them for the referral!
Referrals are critical to building your business. Why not take the opportunity to let those who you do great work for, do the work for you?
You can’t lose by having a referral strategy. So what are you waiting for? Start making “the ask” today!