Need business referrals? Ask for help
Occasionally, a customer will take the initiative to refer your company to a contact because of the good work you’ve done for them. That’s fabulous. They may need a nudge, though, and it’s important to ask your customers to openly acknowledge how important your company is to them.
#34 of Valcort’s 35 Keys to Business Growth reads: “Intentionally solicit customer endorsements and referrals.” Remember that your very best sales person is a current happy customer. No one else can come close.
If you've done good work and the client is satisfied with your performance, it's not that they don't want to help you out; it's that it usually doesn’t enter their minds... unless you ask them. Here are some tips:
- Get over your fear and take the step. Directly ask your clients for referrals – preferably in person. Don't feel sheepish about asking for referrals; there's nothing pushy about it. People won't give you referrals unless you deserve them. But most people like to help others (especially if there is no cost to them).
- Make asking for a referral part of your project routine. With most projects, there's a final meeting with the client, a perfect time to ask for a referral.
- Make it personal: When asking for a referral, don’t send a broad message to a bunch of people. This may be a bit tedious, but studies show that the response rate for personal requests is 41% higher than broad messages.
- Use a script Use a script, at least until asking for a referral has become a habit for you and you are comfortable with asking.
- See if you can get the names right away. You may feel comfortable being more direct and ask for the names when you're asking for referrals. If they do offer names, take the names down and ask the person if they mind if you contact the people directly, or if they would prefer to pass your information along to them yourself.
- How about an endorsement? The time that you're asking for referrals is also an excellent time to ask a client for atestimonial -- a short written endorsement of your company and/or your work that you can use on your website, and in your other marketing materials such as brochures.
- Make it easy: Don’t just ask a client for a referral; make it easy for them to give you one. Your clients are more time-constrained than ever. If giving you a referral takes extra time or headache, they may not be able to do it. Be sure they have your mobile phone number so they can text or call, and an email address.
Don't let your fear get in the way of building your business. Referrals will get you more clients. And the more referrals you ask for, the more referrals you'll get — just because the customer is reminded that this is valuable to you and your company.