When I ask business owners what their Number 1 Marketing strategy is, they most often say referrals or word-of-mouth. It’s their answer to my next question that often exposes the flaw in this answer, as I follow-up with “So what is your formal referral generation process?” The typical answer is a blank stare followed by “What do you mean?”
Don’t get me wrong, referrals are a great way for businesses, small and large, to grow their prospect and client bases. It’s just that without a formal process to manage this strategy there is a lot of wasted time and energy and productivity that many small businesses can’t afford. Here are my Top 5 Strategies for getting more referrals.
1. Don’t Forget To ASK!
This is the simplest and I’m amazed how many business owners are afraid to do this one. Just ASK everyone you do business with for referrals/introductions. Too many business owners don’t ask for a variety of reasons, most revolving around FEAR of some impression they will leave, like being salesy or pushy. If you are afraid of offending a happy customer to invite their friends, then you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself why, as this is all in your beliefs not your customers. To help you get better at this, use Strategy 2.
2. Know What You’re Going To Say!
Create scripts for asking for referrals. Scripts are not bad, but the way you use scripts can be. Scripts are not meant to be memorized and coldly repeated, they are meant to be learned so well that they can be spoken from the heart. When you are asking clients/customers for referrals, you should compliment them in the process, let them know you are looking for new clients “just like them”.
Hold referral contests, with referral rewards. Remember, marketing is all about Buying Customers, so what is a new client worth to you? On the first transaction? On the 50th transaction? Do you know the lifetime value of your customers? Do you know how much you would pay for a quality customer? Offer rewards for referrals to both your customers and to their referrals. There are so many ways to be creative and develop contests and promotions around referrals. Pick one or two and do them well and consistently.
4. Be Strategic!
Find referral partners/sources and build your own private referral network. Ask yourself who else does non-competing business with customers that should be buying from you as well. Go meet with them and establish a referral partnership that helps each of you to introduce prospects to each other. This might take meeting monthly for a few months to really get to know each other’s business, clients and how best to refer to each other. This is a longer term referral strategy that results in steady high quality leads once you’ve both put the work in.
5. Track, Track, Track!
Last but certainly not least, track your referrals. You need to know where every referred prospect and customer came from, so you can do several things. First, be sure to thank the referrer, give them feedback on the referral – what was good about it, how could it be a stronger referral next time. Keep track of the lifetime value of referrals, how long they remain a customer, how profitable they are. This will help you to understand which referral sources need further development (low retention and profit) and which ones you need to recognize and be sure you are reciprocating (high retention and profit).
These are 5 simple things you can do to get more referrals now, you just simply need to make sure you have a repeatable, consistent process in these areas to grow using this high value marketing method. There are at least 6 more referral strategies I could share, but I’ll save that for another time. Start doing these now for results today.
If you’d like help evaluating your current referral generation process and scripts, or creating a new one, let us help you by scheduling a free 60 minute Strategy Session with one of our coaches. You can find a coach at https://actioncoachbluegrass.com/start.
Author: Business Coach Mark McNulty