Successful clients are your best forms of advertising – they are your walking, talking billboards.
Take a minute to think about the fitness industry – if you meet someone you haven’t seen for a while and comment on how fit and healthy they are looking (thinking, “Wow but you have lost the flab and toned up!”) aren’t you likely to go to the trainer they are using as opposed to someone who isn’t looking the greatest but sings the praises of a personal trainer? That magnificently toned person is a walking billboard for their trainer.
If you are mentoring CEO’s, as I do, and their business is booming you’re likely to want the same mentor.
Why referrals are so important
Remember that traditionally the closing rate for a referred lead is around 50% compared to half that for leads from a random list. But the strange thing is that many businesspeople don’t ask for referrals although their satisfied clients would be more than willing to pass on the names of people they know are looking for their services!
Remind people about referrals
People have to be reminded to mention your name to their friends. Don’t wait for them to sing your praises – ask them if they have a friend who could do with some help in the form of your services and if they would introduce you. If they don’t have the time then ask for a contact number and introduce yourself – it’s pushy but at the same time you have an obligation to help someone be the best they can be!
Fight the fear
What holds many back is fear – fear that they will be rejected, fear that their egos will take a dent, fear that people will think, “You’re asking me for a referral – don’t you have enough gumption to find your own clients?”
Well that is part of business – there are successes and failures – remember you’ll only probably convert 50% of those referrals but without any referrals at all you are going to convert 50% of precisely nothing! The trick is to concentrate on the success stories – the more you believe in your own success the more people will be attracted to you and trust you with their business. You become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So ask for those referrals!
These are the steps you need to take:
1 Identify the best walking billboards
These are key influencers – people who know lots of people, people who others take seriously and who may recommend your services – then get to know them.
2 Make yourself more likeable
People deal with the people they like. Instead of concentrating on a hard sell and relying on your own knowledge of a product or business realise people need to buy into you as a person first! If you’ve been in the person’s office and notice they could do with a certain small item of stationery or office equipment send it along to them; or a book, tickets to a movie or a game, a bottle of wine or box of chocolates. Even better send them a referral! This way they want to reciprocate and will be likely to give you referrals.
3 Do background checking
Check out the key influencers’ websites and marketing methods. This way you get to know what their business is all about and can chat with confidence. The chances are they probably haven’t had time to bring their website up to date, so mention in conversation that you have been updating your websites and social media plan and have a whizz kid who does website design. Chances are they’ll ask for the designer’s number and name. You’ll soon be getting good referrals from the person – whether they use the designer or not, simply because you took an interest in their business and could empathize with their challenges.
4 When referrals don’t come in
This means you chose the wrong people and they are actually not key influencers so you’ll need to cast your net wider, not retreat into your shell and claim that referrals are a waste of time.
5 No person or business is too humble
When, for example, you’re having a haircut and the barber/hairdresser bemoans the financial situation here’s your chance to make some suggestions on how to attract more customers – offer to do the copy for an email, or Instagram post (which you hand to your virtual assistant to do). Send over a professional flower arrangement. It’ll create a talking point – but make sure the owner knows what business you are in and has your business card so they can tell their clients in passing conversation what it is you do. You don’t know which influencers may be sitting in the chair after you!
6 Join business-networking groups
The time spent at these meetings is not wasted – it gets your name out there and just 2 to 3 good referrals could be very profitable. See our blog on Building your Network for more tips that could get you good referrals.
7 Send proper cards for birthdays
Send a hand written card delivered to the person’s office; never an e-card and never one with your company branding all over it. It needs to be personal and the image chosen with the person’s interests in mind. Perhaps even send a cupcake or birthday cake? They’ll remember you and refer you to others.
8 Participate in volunteer days
If your key influencers have pet projects or charities offer to volunteer for a morning or afternoon – chances are you’ll meet more like-minded people, and the person will remember your interest.
9 Celebrate their milestones
When a person has a promotion or a business anniversary send a small gift or message. Linked-in is a great source of this kind of information. If you know the person well enough and they participate in an event or children have a special achievement then pick up the phone and give your congratulations.
10 Incentive programs
In the retail industry people who bring along a friend for say a gym session or treatment on a two-for-one-special means the company scores if the friend joins as they have guaranteed repeat business – worth far more than what they lost on the discount. In real estate if a happy client refers another client who purchases a property the agent will often buy the person who gave the referral a worthwhile gift like a large potted plant, or electronic equipment.
It’s all about creating and nurturing contacts, doing what you do well and the referrals will come rolling in! Remember its quality over quantity that you are looking for.
If you would like to know more about REFERRALS then check out www.thevisionlabs.com workshops and events.