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How to Get More Referrals
Consider the last time you were trying to pick a vacation spot, hire a contractor, or make a large purchase. Did you ask your friends and family for suggestions? Most people do, and there’s a good reason. We trust the judgment of the people closest to us. We recognize that they value the same things we do. If they felt a specific plumber did a good job or that a particular movie was worth seeing, we take their advice.
That’s the power of the referral. People are far more likely to call contacts provided to them by trusted associates than those they come to blindly. This boost in trust is why referrals are so valuable. Referrals are prevetted, warm leads that are significantly easier to close than cold contacts.
So how can you get more referrals? Read on to find out.
DO GREAT WORK
Excellence is a prerequisite for every other suggestion in this article. If your offerings are mediocre and your service is just okay, you can’t expect your customers to pass your name onto their friends. So give them something to praise you for! Do the best work you can and offer responsive customer service. When you put your customer first, they’ll return the favor.
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OFFER A REWARD
Let’s be honest. If you’re asking your customers to selflessly pass you names without a thought to their own gain, how often do you think they’ll go out of their way? They may suggest your company if someone asks them, but they’re less likely to promote you actively. Rewards give them a reason to put in the work.
Discounts don’t require much work on your part, and they’re valuable to your customers because it’s money in their pocket. If you can afford it, you might also consider offering a small reward to the referred party, too, as an extra enticement to try your service.
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Work on Your Timing
It matters when you ask for a referral. You want to get your client when they’re most disposed to help you, and that’s probably not when they’re staring at your invoice at the end of a project. Instead, look for openings when your customers are particularly pleased.
If you’ve done work with them before, try asking at the beginning of a new project. The excitement and anticipation of good things coming puts them in the right frame of mind to pass your name around. You might also broach the subject after a successful milestone. Get them when they’re happy, but not when you’re also asking for money.
USE THE COLLATERAL YOU’RE ALREADY SENDING OUT
Asking in person is only one of many ways to ask for a referral. You can also use routine communications to remind them. Consider asking for referrals in your email signature line, your business cards, and any automated marketing messages or newsletters you produce.
You want to make sure your customers know that you’re looking for referral work and then remind them subtly but frequently. When you’re at the top of their mind, they’re more likely to mention you to their associates.
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SEND OUT HANDWRITTEN THANK YOU CARDS ASKING FOR REFERRALS
The humble handwritten card is one of the most powerful tools available for making an emotional impact on your customers. It shows that you care enough to spend the time crafting a thank you by hand — and that your client is worth your time. At the close of an extensive project, or on a biannual basis, tell your clients how much you appreciate their business and remind them how new customers help keep the lights on.
If you don’t have the time to send out handwritten cards, fear not. At Simply Noted, we produce authentic-looking handwritten cards automatically, using real ballpoint pens. All you need to do is enter your message and addresses into our online form. Our handwriting machines will take care of the rest, forwarding your card in a hand-addressed, first-class envelope. You’ll build strong bonds with your customers and increase the number of referrals they send you.
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FOCUS ON RELATIONSHIPS
It’s important to sell new clients. But just as critical, you need to develop the relationships you already have. You need to be your customer’s ally — their champion. When they need help, you want to be the one they think of.
Relationship marketing is about cultivating strong customer bonds. These connections you build will naturally yield referrals in much the same way that a family looks out for its own. Instead of focusing your marketing time on constantly landing the next sale, it’s worth siphoning some into relationship building. It’s a longer game, but it offers sustainable gains.
FOCUS YOUR REQUESTS WITH LINKEDIN
Some customers may be cautious about providing referrals. Others may not have the time available. You can make it easier for both to say “yes” by doing your homework. Save your clients work by asking for specific introductions.
With LinkedIn’s Advanced People Search, you can find links between your network and qualified second-degree connections with companies you want to work with. Then it’s a simple matter to request an introduction.
ASK FOR FEEDBACK
This last section brings us full circle. In the first tip, we talked about providing fantastic service. Asking for feedback is the best way to improve.
Have a conservation with your customers. Ask them what’s working well and where you’re stumbling. They’ll tell you where to focus. As you improve your service, you’ll win more referrals. And more referrals mean new customers, ready to give feedback that can further enhance your offerings.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Your customers are helping you provide better outcomes for them, so offering feedback is in their best interest. They’ll appreciate that you asked for their opinion and will happily provide the keys you need to unlock stellar service.