If referrals are the lifeblood of your business, then you need to keep trying creative ways to get them. If you have never relied on referrals, consider how much more successful you could be if you started getting them regularly! Here are 10 ways to get referrals. Some you probably already know, and some might be new. And don’t brush any of them off by saying, “Oh, I tried that and it didn’t work.” Consistency is key with ANY referral-gathering strategy!
- Pick up the phone and ask a satisfied former client for a referral.
- Put a line at the bottom of your email asking for referrals.
- If you have a physical office location, put referral cards in a handy place where clients can see them. Make sure there’s a pen handy!
- Ask for a referral from someone who has received a referral to you!
- Run a contest where every referral is rewarded AND entered into a drawing for a cool prize.
- When you get a referral, send a thank you card or gift in the mail, and include another referral card. SendOut Cards is a great service to help ou with this.
- Make sure you have relationships with professionals who serve your target market but don’t compete with you, and set up mutual referral programs with them.
- Encourage your happy clients to write reviews for you on Yelp and Google reviews and anywhere else your prospects look for you, and then ask them to share those reviews on social media. Then share them using YOUR social media, too.
- Call a former prospect who did NOT use your services, but who liked you, and ask for a referral. Yep, even people who didn’t hire you still might know someone who could use you.
- Ask a person who really likes you or feels you’ve done them a kindness and ask him or her. Be prepared to explain what kind of introduction you’re looking for.
- Keep track of clients and others who routinely send you referrals and periodically recognize them publicly, whether in your office, or online, with a gift, at an event, or whatever will make them feel like they are truly appreciated and your referral MVP.
- Join a leads group or referral networking group (like BNI) where passing referrals is the reason for getting together and knowing each other.
Thank and Inform the Giver for Referrals
By the way, whether a referral pans out and becomes a paying client or not, be sure to ALWAYS THANK THE GIVER OF THE REFERRAL. It doesn’t have to be money. It just has to be sincere.
Also, keep the referrer informed. There’s nothing more annoying than sending someone to a trusted professional and then having to ask over and over what’s going on with that referral. Don’t make the giver wonder. Keep them in the loop.
A Cautionary Tale of the 6-Figure Referral
A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to refer a college friend of mine to a local marketing and web design company. They did the deal, and that deal led to a few other projects that resulted in nearly $100,000 in revenue for the marketing company. All from one client, and all in about a year. Pretty good, huh? Good thing I kept asking them what was happening with my friend, or I never would have known. When I caught the owner of the marketing company on the phone, he thanked me for the business, but it was pretty anticlimactic since I had to ask more than once for updates. It goes without saying that I never received a thank you card, or even a thank you email, and certainly no inquiry as to how they might repay their good fortune by sending ME a referral.
Would it surprise you to know that I won’t be sending them any more business? My friend is happy with their service, and HE may send them referrals. But I won’t. I know other companies who are just as talented and skilled as they are, so next time I have the chance to send an eager prospect to a marketing firm, I’ll send them somewhere else. Am I bitter? Nope. But if a company doesn’t treat their referral sources with gratitude, how can I remain confident they’ll always treat the clients I send their way with all the professionalism and grace I want them to? So be careful–not just with your clients, but with the people who send them to you!
One Final Thought
Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals. Those who respect you and like you and trust you will be more than happy to help if they can!
A billion thanks to the open source community from Red Hat via photopin (license)