Referrals are one of the most powerful ways to grow a business. At the same time, referrals are what most customers rely upon when choosing a new product or service. They are the bread and butter of doing business, yet they don’t come automatically. They are a result of building meaningful professional relationships. They are also the result of implementing a well thought out strategy with the following key components.
Start by asking. Not everyone is in the habit of asking their customers for referrals. It may feel awkward or uncomfortable at first, but you can easily turn it into a routine practice. If you just wrapped up a project and your client is extremely pleased with your work, this is a great opportunity to ask them if they know anyone else who could use your services. This is also a great opportunity to ask if you can use them as a reference or if they would be willing to write you a client testimonial.
Make it easy and convenient. Always make it as easy as possible for people to give you referrals. If you’re meeting with your client for the last time, provide them with some extra business cards that they can hand out to their friends. If you’re emailing them a thank you letter, always remember to include a link to your website and social networks in your signature line. You can also ask them to write you a review and provide them with a link to your Google Business page or Yelp page.
Leverage social media. Social media has become a mainstay in obtaining referrals. While staying connected with friends and colleagues, you can also share valuable and advice from your blog, as well as keep them up to date on the latest news at your company. LinkedIn is one of the best ways to get B2B referrals; each of your LinkedIn connections has a link in their profile which allows you to request an introduction to their connection.
Educate and share your expertise. Host a free seminar, workshop or webinar and teach others how they can benefit from using your products or services. This is a great way to introduce yourself to new prospects, establish yourself as an expert, and get referrals. For more details, read our blog article, “7 Tips to Grow Your Business Giving Educational Seminars and Workshops”.
Nurture and reward your top referral sources. Always continue building relationships with your best customers. Invite them for a lunch date or golf outing, and remember them around the holidays with a special gift. Stay in touch and keep them up to date on your latest developments at your company. Make them feel appreciated as special VIP customers.
Always give thanks. Your clients chose you over your competitors, and then they went above and beyond by recommending you to their friends, family and colleagues. That’s huge! Show your appreciation and thank them whenever possible. A personal thank you card with a small gift, such as a Starbucks gift card or a bottle of wine, can make all the difference.
Referrals from friends, colleagues, clients or professional networks are valuable beyond any direct return of business. They are the result of meaningful professional relationships whereas someone is willing to risk their reputation by recommending you and your company. Bottom line, any tools and strategies you use should always be genuine and sincere, while your requests for support should always be appropriate and thoughtful.