I don’t have to tell you how important referrals are to your business. If you’re a business owner or an independent professional, you know that referrals are the lifeblood of your business. In our effort to get new clients on a regular, consistent basis the one weekly action item of asking our past and current clients for a referral is frequently overlooked. Although referral-generated clients are generally the best in terms of both quality and revenue, many people are not sure how to get referrals. Here is an easy 5 Step process to get referrals and make more money with less effort.
1. Set a referral goal. A rule of thumb is that half of your satisfied clients will give you at least one referral if you ask them. So if your goal is to get 10 referrals in a month, you need to ask 20 clients.
2. Start asking! The vast majority of satisfied clients are more than willing to provide referrals. And this willingness to refer is strong. However, as astounding as it may seem, clients are rarely asked. To make referrals work in growing your business, you must, above all else, systematically ask for referrals. I have found that people don’t ask for referrals for two main reasons. One is that they are afraid of rejection. But hey, you already did the hard part–you got someone to use your services. If a client is satisfied with your service, you’ve not only earned the right to ask for referrals but your satisifed clients are typically more than happy to refer you business…but you have to ask! A more common reason people don’t ask is that they haven’t learned the right words to say. So here’s a little script to follow. By all means, adapt the words to your own style: ” The purpose of my call today is to tell you that one of the ways I build my clientele is through referrals from good clients like you. My ideal prospect is someone, like you, who ___________________.” Fill in this blank with the characteristics of your ideal prospect. or… ” I am expanding my business and I value your help. I’ve found that my best source of advertising is satisfied clients. I was hoping you might be able to refer me to others that could benefit from my services.”
3. Dig a little deeper. If no one comes immediately to your client’s mind, consider prompting him/her with some examples. You might suggest his/her colleagues at work or in professional and civic organizations. Explain specifically the type of client you’re looking for. For me, ” I work primarily with small business owners, entrepreneurs and sales professionals who want to make more money with less effort.” Do you know of anyone that could benefit from my services?
4. Enlist your client’s help, if he/she is willing. If a client does give a name, ask, ” What would be the best way to approach this person?” You might also ask, ” Would you be willing to contact the person to let him/her know I’ll be calling?” Many people will readily agree to this request.
5. Make contact and thank within 24 hours. Once you receive the referral it is important you call the the prospect within 24 hours. Once you have made contact with the prospect, call your referring partner and thank them for the referral and follow-up with handwritten personal note and small gift. Don’t be surprised to receive a follow-up from them thanking you for the gift and another referral. Many of my clients offer their customers incentives for referrals. It may be a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or a discount off their bill. There’s no doubt that client referrals are by far the most effective prospecting strategy you can employ.