There are many ways to grow your business. You can increase sales to existing clients, you can add additional products and services to your offering, and you can even merge with another organization. The easiest and fasted way to grow your business is through referrals.
Cold calling is a proven way to develop business. The only problem is that it can be slow and tedious. And, although there is a time and place for cold calling, other ways of building your business may work more effectively for you. Certainly advertising can pay off, but you had better have significant funds available to you so that you can stay visible long enough for your advertising to pay off.
Referrals tend to buy quicker and place larger initial orders than other types of new clients. Some of the most successful business professionals today have developed a system of gaining quality referrals that works very well for them. Below are six ideas that will help you in developing your own system of cultivating referrals.
1. Be Great
The level of service you provide must be outstanding, and the quality of products you deliver must be superior before any referral system will begin working for you. But, if you are great without being asked to be, then your clients will automatically start sending referrals your way.
Like life in general, you rarely receive something unless you deserve it. Do you deserve referrals from your clients? Have you done everything in your power to stand out and be great in both quality of service and quality of products? If you can say ‘yes’ to these questions, then you are on the right track.
This may sound simple, but all too often, business professionals just simply fail to ask for referrals. There are specific times in a relationship that it is natural and normal to ask for referrals. You need to be aware of those moments and take advantage of them.
Right after you complete a sale and you are thanking your client may be a great time to ask for referrals. If you use a standard order form, print two or three blank lines on the bottom. After your client signs off on the order, point to those “blank lines” and tell your client that your business is built on the satisfaction of your clients and the potential clients they refer. Then ask them if they know two or three people who may be in the same situation that they could refer you to.
Always give specific “types” of people to think about. Don’t just ask if a client knows “someone.” Say, “Do you know any other small business owners?” By defining groups of people for your client to pull from, you will help them hone in on potential referrals for you.
When a client does provide you with a referral, be sure and reward them. Depending on your business, a dinner for two would be appropriate. Also, you can have a program with cards printed up that promote referrals and states the reward your clients will earn. For example; if they send in a prepaid post card with a referral on it and the referral buys then they receive $50.00.
If you want to take this idea one step further, mail to your client base twice a year. In this mailing you can promote your products or services, and you can also include some more referral cards for your clients.
Newsletters are a great way to stay in touch with your clients. They can be traditional printed newsletters, email newsletters, or a combination of the two. Be sure and mention that you appreciate referrals somewhere in your newsletter. You’ll be surprised by how just reminding your clients that you appreciate referrals can pay off.
5. Thank-You Notes
If you’re not already sending your clients thank-you notes on a regular basis, then you are missing out. Thank them for taking the time to meet, thank them for considering your product or service, thank them if they don’t buy, and thank them if they do. You should also thank them for referring clients your way. When you write a thank-you note sometimes you can add in that you would appreciate any referrals that they send your way.
You can also call your clients after the product has been delivered and your thank-you note has arrived. Toward the end of the conversation ask for a referral.
6. Create An Army Of Advocates
If you excel at building relationships, which is what business is all about, then over time you should be building an army of advocates. Advocates are those people who love you, your company, or your products and services. Let those people know how much you appreciate them. Also, let them know how you build your business and they you need and appreciate their referrals. If they really like you, they will promote you to their associates.
Stay in touch with your advocates on a monthly basis. Maybe send them a hand written note. Maybe send them an article that you think they will be interested in. Maybe send them a book that you feel would help them in their business. You could write a personal note and sign the book for an even greater impact!
Take care of your advocates, and they will take care of you.
A referral program is not a one-time thing. It is an ongoing effort that, over time, will produce significant results for your business. If you are looking to add quality clients that will buy quicker and place larger orders then referrals are the way to go. Design your own referral program. Stay consistent in your efforts, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!