Building a referral based business
Referrals are a great way to get new work as the person referring has generally done a lot of the selling for you and if you do a great job they will keep referring you.
Referral can come from a variety of sources including, Past Clients, Friends and family and non-competing businesses that share a common target market (alliances or partners)
Over the years we have helped many customers develop great referral networks and have come up with 8 simple rules to make your business a referral rich environment.
One – Deliver A WOW Experience
Deliver a WOW experience to the client so they’re more than happy to recommend you to everyone they know.
Note that we didn’t say a “good” experience or even a “great” experience. It’s about delivering them such an amazing level of service that they’re left speechless.
Two – Build Client Loyalty
Build client loyalty by consistently delivering incredible value.
Warm and fuzzies are all well-and-good, but if the client doesn’t perceive that you have made a difference, you won’t attract any referrals.
Three – Plant the seed early in the relationship.
Tell them that if they are happy with what you have done for them (only if they are happy), you will ask them to refer someone. The benefit of this is when it comes time to ask for referrals, they will be even more pre-disposed to referring people.
Four – Make it easy for them to refer.
Your top level clients will automatically refer some business your way, but many of your clients who are delighted with the results you have helped them produce, simply don’t do any referring. The reason for that is usually because it just doesn’t occur to them to do that.
By using a combination of gentle prodding along with some referral devices such as referral cards, you will find your results increase dramatically.
Five – Practice the Law of Reciprocation.
Whether you like to call it karma or simply “give and you shall receive”, it all comes back to the basic human characteristic of wanting to repay a good deed.
So — identify which clients are perfectly positioned to provide you with the highest volume of “quality” referrals. THEN actively refer new business their way. Depending on the nature of the product or service they sell, try and refer one or two new clients to them per month (make sure the leads are qualified).
In no time at all the client will be wondering how he/she can repay the favour. Referrals will start flowing back your way thick and fast.
Six – Ask for non-threatening referrals
Ask for non-threatening referrals (at appropriate times only) e.g., value-adding referrals NEVER suggest an appointment or meeting first up … NEVER
It’s very important to position referral requests as being something that will not only benefit the referred client but will also add value to your referee client.
Seven – Really thank them for their referral.
Everyone loves being praised. Show them that you appreciate their kind gesture. Thank them on the phone. Thank them in a card or letter AND thank them with a memorable gift.
Eight – Identify and explore formal referral/alliance relationships
With select B2B clients who have an influential relationship with their own clients, there is an opportunity for them to refer a large amount of business your way.
In these situations, it makes sense to negotiate a formal arrangement that rewards the client more substantially and in turn delivers you greater results.
• They could actively promote your business in exchange for a referral fee.
• They could write to their clients endorsing your seminar and/or your services;
• They could feature articles of yours in their newsletters;
• Links from their website to yours, etc etc