Referrals are the best recommendation for your business as they easily prove the value you add from the perspective of a happy customer. That cuts straight through all the marketing, advertising and sales noise to tell prospects what they really need to know. After all, business owners trust other business owners, so a recommendation is something of a seal of approval which can’t be matched by an advert.
The same can be said for inbound referrals: your good clients who have given you a referral know other business owners and that association means the extended network probably has the same characteristics. In other words, your clients’ networks represent excellent opportunities to find new business.
With a proactive focus on referrals, you can in effect access a ‘pre-qualified’ market, one which is already open to your value proposition, because their friend, associate or peer has given you the thumbs up. They’ve opened the door a niche, allowing you to get a foot in the door.
But just how do you tap this potentially rich seam of business? Check out these referral systems which can give your company a big boost
Just go right ahead and ask
This one is so simple and obvious it shouldn’t really be called a ‘system’ at all. If you’ve done a great job, you know it and the client knows it…well, do the old-fashioned thing and ask for a referral. Just like your mother always used to say, if you don’t ask you don’t get. Don’t be pushy, but don’t be shy either. Just make sure that the client really is pleased with what you’ve done, or things could get a little awkward (yes, that happens, quite a lot actually.)
Add value to referrers
Providing a professional little something extra to the clients who refer you to others – such as a free report, product or other value add – makes it worthwhile for them. It’s also a good way to engage further with clients and deepen the relationship, while potentially exposing further opportunities within that client’s business where you can provide additional services.
Run a competition
This is both an easy and a particularly good way to get clients referring you to others. Run a competition for those who provide a recommendation, with a reward for everyone who makes a referral, then another bigger one for the person who makes the most referrals. Design the competition carefully: make sure the time between the start and finish of the competition is defined and not too long (so it retains interest). A good starting point is 30 days, while regular reminders using social media and other tools can help maintain interest. The better the prizes, the more likely people are to participate…
Create shareable content
A case study, a blog, a press release, ebook guide or a video – tell the story of what you and your client have achieved together. These initiatives are often welcomed by clients, particularly those who understand the concept of content marketing. Creating that shareable content provides an easy reference point for referral customers, and it is excellent material to put on your website and social media platforms (and those of your client).
It isn’t hard to do referrals better. All it takes is a little effort, and as with most things, consistently applied. Put these systems into practice and your organisation stands to get a healthy boost in business.