Generating new business via referrals — what do I need to know?

It goes without saying that generating referrals is a great way to build your business, particularly in an industry where so much of your business comes from the word of mouth of happy clients telling their friends and family about the great products or services your provide.

The best thing about referred business is that the contact who walks through the door or picks up the phone to call you, is already motivated and most of the selling has been done for you. They’ve been sent by someone who was impressed enough to pass on your details, so they already have the trust and confidence in you.

So, how do you go about encouraging your happy clients to actively promote your name to their mates, family, and extended networks?

It’s pretty simple, just ask them. Let them know that this is how you build your business and give them clever and easy tools to help them do so.

If you don’t ask, you don’t receive. Yes, we know — this is something your mother probably told you, but it still rings true. Work with your customers when a deal is on the table and you have their full attention, and touch base with them after the dust has settled give them that post-sale service they may not be expecting – take all these opportunities to remind them to refer you. If it doesn’t easily come up in conversation or you find it a hard subject to raise, simply include a referral reminder on your email signature. Something like ‘PS – My business is built on referrals from great clients – please pass on my details’ works well as a gentle reminder. Use similar wording on your letters and other communications with your clients.

Do the hard work for them. Don’t rely on your clients fumbling for your business card that is hiding somewhere; keep in touch with your clients on a regular basis so that your email address is front and centre for them,

Credit where credit is due. Say thank you and say it loud and often. If a client refers a new client to you, send them a thank you card or email or pick up the phone and call them just to tell them how much you appreciate their support. You can even follow up with something you know they’ll like – a magazine subscription or voucher, a bottle of red, or a great book that is related. Often it can be considered an unnecessary expense, but just think, it may cost you $300 for a local press ad that may generate a couple of calls and one appointment, but $40 on a magazine subscription or bottle of wine to a client that isn’t expecting it is a great return for that one brand new client, and will probably encourage them to refer you ten times over. A quick shout out on your social media sites is a good idea too to prompt other clients to do the same thing – “Happy to help the mate of a great long-term client today with the right [product/service].  Thanks to all of you for your great referrals that help me grow my business.”

Don’t forget the bigger picture. All marketing initiatives and tactics work best when they are part of a more comprehensive strategy that entails elements such as growing your industry networks, talking to your local media and encouraging them to run a piece you pitch to them and being an active member of your local community. Often a client will refer you but it’s not until that prospect is reminded of you via something they’ve read about you in their local paper, or seen your latest social media post on Instagram or Facebook.

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