Many of our clients at Get Quirked get a lot of referral business because they’ve been in operation for 5+ years and have built a very loyal customer base. Building loyalty is actually the first key in maximizing your referrals because without that positive, loyal customer you would likely never get any referrals from them.
That can be devastating for many small to medium sized businesses. Even for some large companies, having no referred clients could mean they shut the doors next month.
I want to show you 3 ways that you can maximize the potential of every customer by being a little proactive about how you communicate with them about referring you new business.
Introduce prospects and clients as early as possible to the concept of referrals
Introduce your prospects to the idea of referrals as a core concept of your business early as part of your introduction process. A lot of business owners and salespeople neglect to start the conversation about referrals early enough in their communication with their prospects.
They say it “feels like a sleazy thing to do”, when in reality you’re establishing some ground rules. So why do so many people feel that it’s sleazy, unprofessional or uncouth to ask for a referral or identify that you’d really like a referral from a prospective customer or client before you’ve done any work.
I think a lot of it has to do with that last phrase, “before you’ve done any work” for someone. That person has no point of reference for why they would refer you or your business out to anyone else. While this is true, it’s also not an objection that you should concern yourself with at this point. Why? Because you’ve given them no reason to NOT trust you at this point.
“But”, you might say, “I’ve given them no reason TO trust me yet.” While that’s true in the sense of not having provided them with tangible value, you’re missing one fact about humans. We are actually quite trusting by nature. Unless you’ve had a long series of bad events happen because of misplaced trust and are conditioned to NOT trust before you DO trust, you’re a rather trusting person.
So as long as you continue to give them NO reason to NOT trust you, which as a reader of this blog I trust you to be of good values and honor, your prospect will not feel as if you’re pushing them to send you more business. A great way to keep them away from feeling the “sleaze” is to explain why you’re bringing referrals up in the first place.
It’s a great way to establish trust and social proof by telling your prospects that your business relies heavily on referral business. You can even give them some basic statistics to prove how valuable referrals are for you.
You could say that “60% of our business comes from existing clients recommending and referring their friends, family, and other business owners to us.” Your percentage might be different, but you get the idea.
Another way to drive the point home thru this early communication technique is to build it into some of your marketing materials. If you provide handouts to your prospective customers, create an infographic that shows people how much business you get and rely upon via referrals. One step further could be to add testimonials from existing customers that referred business. Get them to talk about how that referred business helped both you and them out.
The idea with this effort is to create social proof while showcasing the benefits to, not only you or the people being referred, but to those who are doing the referring! Everything plays back to, “what’s in it for me?” In order to best communicate that, we like including testimonials because it’s a more REAL version of the story and the benefits.
Throughout the discovery process and “getting to know you” period, reiterate that referrals are welcomed, even before a sale is made or a contract is signed. Work stories into your conversations that can provide a benefit to your prospects.
Something simple can be worked into a conversation nearly any point. For example, if your prospect asks a question about performance for other customers or clients you could say, “One of our clients, a textiles manufacturer, sent one of their buyers our way and we were able to increase the amount of qualified leads they got per month by 20%. This in turn actually boosted business for the textiles manufacturer by 10% just from this one buyer.”
This not only answers the question, but it provides them with another story/reason for them sending you more business.
Give them something of immediate value as a thank you
Once the sale is made, offer them a gift to send to the person that referred them to you. What? You want me to give my new customer a gift that they then give to someone else? Yes. Yes I do.
By sending your new customer/client a gift of thanks to provide to the person or business that referred you to them, you’re building more trust with both the old/existing client as well as the new one.
Building that trust is imperative to the success of any referral program and strategy.
As we’ll discuss later, you can even build a system to send a gift on behalf of the client that was referred TO the client that did the referring. So what are some examples of good referral gifts to send out?
Some great gifts we’ve both sent and been given in the past are tools that we can use immediately to change our business, improve our lives, or just get away for a bit. Gifts that could change your customer’s business could be white papers, ebooks, and how-to guides.
Not every business is going benefit from things like this, so then you can reach out on a personal level for something like tickets to a baseball/football game, a gift card with enough on it to cover a very nice dinner and night out on the town.
If you’re looking to soothe your referral or the person who referred them, look to something like a spa package, manicure/pedicure, cabin rental in a nearby park or recreational area. You don’t have to break the bank on them, even a gift card for Starbucks would do.
The concept here is to hit the principle of reciprocity. We have a tendency to want to give something back to someone that gives us something. You get a new client, you send them a thank you that has value to them… so that in turn we can encourage them giving something back to you again.
Also, reach out to the referral yourself and provide a gift of some kind. The gift could be something physical, like we just mentioned, OR it could be your product/service based. Something nice is to provide someone that referred you business with a discount on more business.
Take that one step further and you can just give them cash. Depending on what a new customer is worth to you, you could part with a bit of that money. If you’re selling a product or service for $1,000, you could likely spare $100 of that as a bonus to give to that amazing person who just helped you land $1,000 client/customer.
The point, again, is to show people how much they mean to you, your company, your employees, and even your other customers! The phrase, “help me help you,” is often misunderstood in my opinion. Many people believe this is a selling technique to persuade a person into spending money with someone else.
While that may be the case, I assure you that there is a far more appealing way to look at this phrase… by letting me help you, I can afford to help even more people just like you. If you trust me enough to spend your money with me, that will help show others that I am trustworthy which affords me the opportunity to help more people.
Make All Your Clients An Affiliate For Your Company
How can you take this a step further and really maximize your referrals? Give clients the option to become an affiliate for your company, product, or service! If they are in a similar space or work regularly with others that are perfect clients/customers for your business.
Build an easy program or system for them so they don’t have to do any more than hand a flyer, send an email, or give a simple URL.
The easier it is for someone to refer you business the more likely it will be that they will make the effort and send you good, quality, qualified referrals.
As you can see there are many ways you can expand each one of these 3 ways to maximize your referrals. We love learning how other businesses are working to ensure future business for themselves and their customers.
Be sure to leave a comment below and tell us how you’re getting new referrals!