|July 1, 2020
No marketing activity is more effective than a proactive referral process.
Among top professionals, 80% of their new business comes from referrals.
As a way to acquire new business, referrals are the least expensive, have the least risk, and provide the highest potential payoff. And there are additional benefits. You can avoid the ‘commodity trap’ of competing, as the client who comes from a referral is less likely to shop around and, if your clients recommend you to someone else, they have also committed themselves.
Set up a consistent process:
I recommend that you commit to having an annual in-person conversation with your key clients, as part of your client review. Put ‘Referrals’ on the list of discussion items, so the client knows in advance that the topic will be included – and you will have no excuse not to cover it.
Have the right mindset:
Your sales philosophy should assume that most clients are not being taken care of and that it’s your professional mission to make a positive difference.
Help your clients to help you:
If you want to increase your referrals, you must be specific about the types of people you would like to add to your client list. The more specific you are, the more likely you will get a referral or, at the very least, a discussion about a potential introduction.
Provide great service. Continually strive to exceed your client’s expectations; this puts you in the right position to have a referral discussion.
Reverse what you do. Work backwards, and start by understanding exactly who your ideal prospects are, the benefits they want and need, their biggest problems and how you can solve them.
Show interest. Get to know your clients personally and professionally; ask them about themselves.
Provide logical and emotional reasons why they should provide referrals. Explain that you get most of your business by referrals, which means you can focus your money and time on providing a better service.
Give them an incentive. Offer to donate to their favourite cause or charity, or provide referrals to grow their business.
Have your clients make the call. Ask them to call or directly contact the referral.
Do something in advance of asking for a referral. Send a birthday card, buy lunch, give a book or something else that has perceived value.
Choose a time when a client is most receptive. For example, when you have just fixed a problem or fulfilled an obligation.
Don’t be shy. Just ask; your clients want you to be successful.
Keep in frequent contact. Get back to those who offered you referrals, and let them know what happened. And don’t forget to say thank you – especially when they provided referrals who became clients.
Referrals are the key to exponential growth.
If you had to engage in only one form of marketing, the proactive referral process should definitely be the one to choose.