As you are probably already aware, referrals are the highest quality lead you can get, don’t cost anything and have the highest closing rate. The difficulty is in generating them consistently. While most people begin with friends, family and other relationships, they soon run out of people to contact. Often they don’t want to extend beyond that inner circle because they are uncomfortable asking for referrals.
Specifically, they don’t want to appear desperate, or like a “salesman.” That is the reason we put together this list of 10 ways to get referrals in random order.
Use a business networking tool
Automated business networks, like SmartGuy® (www.SmartGuy.com), allow you to exchange referrals with people you already know and refer anyway. This site, for example, will provide you a free editable web page to add your information, as well as that of your referral sources. They will also list you as the only professional in your city/category and promote you to local consumers for a nominal charge.
Make sure others know what you do
Ensure businesses you currently associate with are aware of exactly what you do. Many times, we work with businesses (like insurance agents) who meet with tons of local clients every day, but aren’t aware of exactly what we do since they are so busy providing insurance for their customers. Make it easy for them by contacting them once in awhile with a simple sentence describing how you help their clients and others.
Express your appreciation
It is important to recognize and thank referral sources. There are many ways to do this, such as a simple phone call, email, or best of all a handwritten note. The key is to express your appreciation. This will encourage additional referrals.
Be your best
Seems easy doesn’t it? But sometimes making that extra effort with a follow up call, or extra special service makes you remarkable and differentiates you from others. Remind clients why your company is so special and give them something good to tell others.
Website Referral Link
Consider adding a link to a form on your website for those wishing to enter referral submissions. Often people know of others also in needs of your services, and since timing is so important, this might be just the trick!
Ask people you know what they do
It might seem silly, but try contacting professionals you don’t know too well and asking them from 1-2 sentences about what they do. Let them know you keep a list of referral sources and want to include them for when you are asked by clients. Since everyone loves referrals, they will probably ask for some information about you should the need come up as well!
Offer a referral commission.
Assuming you provide good service, nothing helps give you a little extra edge over others like offering a referral commission for those who send you clients.
Treat your vendors/suppliers as partners
Keep in mind that your vendors and suppliers often visit many other local businesses every day. In doing so, they have an opportunity to help you grow your business fast. For example, if you owned a local restaurant, the local printer that does your printing does printing for many neighboring businesses, all of who could be patrons of your restaurant.
Provide valuable free content
A great way to keep referrals close is to provide valuable content your referral sources can benefit from. This might be industry related tips, changes in how things are done or even local information related to their community. Keep your company on their mind.
Give a referral
Finally, nothing brings referrals like giving referrals to others. It’s human nature, really. Ever go into an ice cream store and are offered a sample? What did you do next, but some right? Same concept here. Give someone a referral and they will want you to be happy and send them more.
Referrals are the lifeline for the sustainability of any business. Rather than wasting money on one-time advertising efforts (that only make the advertising companies rich), focus on building a team of referrals. As it grows, you will no longer need to advertise, save money each month and create a path towards financial freedom.