Referrals are the lifeblood of a successful business – there’s no better way of building sales than by increasing referrals. They are not only the number one source of new business; they are the leading source of the best new business.
People like to make referrals – when we make a wise purchasing decision, we want to share it with others as a way of validating our own good judgment and good fortune. However, to get referrals, it is vital to be assertive and ask for them!
Here are five strategies for developing more and better referrals (you may prefer the term introductions – it sounds more professional and less intimidating):
- Let your customers know up front that you will be asking for introductions. Explain how your business depends on positive word-of-mouth and specific recommendations
- When asking for introductions, be sensitive to timing. It takes practice and experience to do it effectively. The best time to ask, naturally, is when you have just completed a project or assignment. Ask for a testimonial letter – one that he or she would feel comfortable with you sending to new contacts. Also, ask your customers to provide a review of your firm on review websites (such as yelp.co.uk) or on social media outlets (particularly Google+ and Pinterest).
- Tell your customers exactly what you want them to do and describe the kinds of new customers you are looking for. Then discuss people they might know who meet these criteria. Your customer may offer to make a contact. Ask for a commitment, and let him or her know you will be in touch regarding the opportunity
- When you do receive a referral, make sure to say “thank you”, whether or not the referral results in new business. Set up a system so that every referral is properly acknowledged
- When you get a new customer as a result of an introduction, find a special way of thanking your referral source. Send a bottle or perhaps even a case of wine, a bouquet of flowers or a plant. The most memorable thank you’s will be specific to the individual such as:
- Concert tickets to a favourite band or orchestra
- A gift certificate to a favourite shop
- Dinner for 2 at a favourite restaurant
There is no better way to build your business than through referrals. Like you, most business owners and professionals are looking for new business. If you want people to make referrals to you, find a way to do the same for them.