Though digital media marketing is incredibly valuable nowadays, it’s important not to forget about the most basic (yet effective!) form of marketing there is: word-of-mouth marketing. Customer referrals, which bring in new, likely-to-be-loyal clientele, are some of the best contacts a company can make. In fact, referrals are a powerful selling tool. How does one learn how to get more referral business? Lucky for you, we’ve got a guide right here.
Related: Online Reviews eBook (free download)
Why Is it Important to Ask for Referrals?
Asking for referrals is essential to bringing in valuable new clients. It’s human nature; people would much rather do business with people they know—or people recommended to them—than with total strangers. Few things are as effective to converting people to your business than a ringing endorsement from friends or family. A referral from another customer is like a five-star review, written directly to someone who would be a good fit for your business.
There are additional benefits when it comes to the quality of the new customers you are bringing in. Since people are most likely to hang out with others like themselves, the new customers trickling in will already be enthusiastic about what you have to offer. They’ll already be members of the crowd you’re looking for, and therefore more likely to purchase your merchandise. Best of all, thanks to your referrer, they already trust your company. Brand loyalty and evangelism is just a stone’s throw away from there.
Tips for Asking for Referrals
Asking for referrals is like asking for reviews. There’s no use in being shy or sheepish. You may get some referrals without trying—simply by virtue of your high quality of service, for example—but it pays more to be proactive.
If you’re wondering how to get more referrals, incorporate these good habits into your daily business routine:
- Make referrals part of your initial conversation. When you start work with a new customer, ask them to agree to a simple deal. If you do a great job for them, they will tell others about it.
- Cash in those compliments. If a customer is pleased with your work, thank them, and say something along the lines of, “It’s great to hear that you are happy with your experience. Would you happen to know of others who could benefit from our services?”
- Set goals. If you’ve been thinking about how to get referrals, the simple answer is practice. Set weekly goals for referrals. Promise yourself you’ll get at least five, ten, or even more per week. Be sure to record your goal and
- Be specific. When requesting a referral, be specific in regards to what kind of referral you’re seeking. If you’re looking for individuals with a high net worth, say so. If you’re seeking out companies, mention that. Tell your customer who your target audience is. That way, you won’t waste time pursuing referrals who won’t yield you the results you want.
- Offer exceptional service. You won’t succeed at getting any referrals at all unless the quality of your service goes above and beyond the standard for your industry. Your company should shine.
- Don’t accept just any referral. A referral is only valuable if it’s a quality one. Don’t ask customers to recommend just anyone to your company. The people they recommend should be ones with similar interests, who would be genuinely attracted to your business and what it has to offer. A list of random names will do nothing for you. Have you created a set of buyer personas for your business yet? This can help.
- Develop a referral system. You get what you give. Pay it forward by providing referrals to businesses and partners yourself. People will be more inclined to give you referrals in exchange. Plus, contributing to the greater good of your community will help to bolster your reputation.
- Integrate your referral requests with other marketing strategies. Need some ideas? We have the best of the best when it comes to examples of marketing strategies.
- Develop a customer loyalty program. Customers who are loyal to your business or brand evangelists are more likely to refer others to your business. Develop and maintain a customer loyalty program to incentivize customers to keep coming back and telling others to do the same.
- Network, network, network! Try to make the most out of every networking opportunity. Plan what you will say in advance. Make it a goal to talk to at least three people at each event. Tell them about your business, pass out business cards. Sway them to visit your website or to visit your store. They’ll likely share what they’ve learned with their friends. Try to make yourself as interesting and enthusiastic as possible—this is what people are drawn to! Once you network, make sure to follow up with a networking email to keep the lines of communication open.
Show Your Appreciation
As the saying goes, “a person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.” Always, always show your appreciation to someone who has given you a client referral. Never simply take their referral without a thank you or follow up of some sort, such as a handwritten note or an email. If they’ve provided you with an exceptionally valuable referral, consider one-upping yourself with something more substantial, such as a tasteful gift or treating them to lunch. Here are some more customer appreciation ideas for you.
Remember, showing appreciation is always worth the effort! If you don’t want to put money into it, don’t fret. A heartfelt thanks, in whatever form it takes, is always well-received.
Keep Referrals at the Forefront of Your Agenda
If you think of your business as a network of connections, it’s easy to see how referrals easily play into your marketing structure. Referrals expand your web, netting you more “flies” and, in turn, more profit. It’s vital that you always remember the importance of face-to-face marketing techniques, like asking for referrals, and integrate them into your daily activities. You’ll find it quickly becomes second nature, and the referrals will start rolling in. Watch your business grow organically and reap your success!
Reciprocate and Refer
While it’s great to get sales or client referrals from others, your referral pipeline will be short if you don’t reciprocate. Make a note of clients or businesses who refer customers to you so that, when applicable, you can return the favor. Not only will this ensure that referrers continue to refer business to you, but it’s good business karma!
Of course, face-to-face marketing should be only one part (albeit an important one) of your marketing efforts. Pair your referral techniques with even more ways to promote your business.
Referrals are all about getting happy customers to spread the word about your business to others. For more on this topic, download our free online reviews eBook below:
This post was originally written on 10/28/2015 and updated on 4/2/2018