Getting new clients by referral is one of the most effective, simple, and low cost ways to grow your business.
So how many referrals have you received lately?
How often do you ask for referrals?
It’s exciting to open an e-mail or pick up the phone to find that unexpectedly someone you know wants to introduce you to a potential new client.
Some people will give you referrals without you asking for them. And while that’s great, it is an unpredictable situation.
Another relevant question is how many referrals have you given lately? By giving referrals you understand the process better and demonstrate that it’s not only about getting. And if you’re like me, you enjoy connecting people who can help each other.
The people you give referrals to may not be the same people who give you referrals. The point is, what comes around goes around in its own way.
In order for referrals to be an effective marketing strategy, you must create a structured system and stick to it. This is the best way to generate referrals on a consistent basis. Asking for referrals randomly or when you remember won’t cut it.
I know from my clients that sometimes they are reluctant to ask for referrals because they are afraid of being intrusive or pushy. Find a way that feels right for you, and remember it’s just a question. A great time to ask is when someone compliments your work.
In addition, think about asking clients before, during, and after they buy from you. Asking for referrals is like any other skill, the more you do it the easier and more natural it becomes.
Who to Ask
– Current clients
– People in your professional networks
– Strategic alliance partners
What to Ask
This is actually very important and it’s not just about semantics. Don’t ask someone this question: “Do you know anyone who might need my services?”
Why? Because it’s vague and makes it difficult for the person to come up with ‘someone’ because you’re asking for ‘anyone.’
Make it easy for people to give you referrals. Ask them something specific that is simple to answer. Ask something like this: “Who is one business owner you know who may need help attracting more clients to her business?” See the difference?
You need to be clear about the next step you would like the person giving you a referral to take.
1. You can ask them to make the introduction via e-mail and copy you.
2. Or you can ask the person to phone the person before you make contact.
3. Another idea is to ask the person to direct the interested person to your website to obtain some preliminary information.
How to Ask
There are loads of opportunities to ask for referrals. Decide what you feel comfortable doing and commit to taking action.
Think about asking for referrals:
* In person
* On the telephone
* In an e-mail
* Using snail mail (postcard or letter) and follow up with a phone call
In general people you know are happy and willing to help you by giving you referrals. But, remember it is you who wants something so it’s up to you to check back about your inquiry. People are busy and can forget about your request. A friendly reminder can do wonders.
What to Give to People Who Send Your Referrals
Many times the people who send you referrals will let you know. But that’s not always the case. That is why you must ask everyone who contacts you how they heard about your business. That way you are always able to thank people who give you referrals.
There are infinite ways to thank people who refer clients to your business. Be creative and come up with things that are valuable to them.
Here are a few ideas:
> One of your products for free
> Free additional services
> Recognition for them in your ezine or blog
> 2 for the price of 1 to an upcoming event
> Training or education to the people who give you referrals
When you know the people who give you referrals well, you can share more personalized gifts like:
> Concert tickets
> Coffee or tea with a cup
> Gourmet food basket
> Designer chocolate
> A relevant book
> Movie passes
> Restaurant certificate for lunch or dinner
Gift or no gift, at the very least do say thank you. Pick up the phone, send an e-mail, or drop a handwritten note in the mail. If you like referrals, and want to keep them coming, be sure to thank the people who send them to you.
Are you starting to see how creating a referral system is an easy and effective way to grow your business? Give referrals, ask for referrals on a consistent basis, and thank everyone who sends you referrals. And discover how attracting more clients has never been so fun.
For even more on referrals watch my video: How to Get Even More Referrals.
© Stephanie Ward
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG, OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Stephanie Ward is the Marketing Coach for Entrepreneurs who want to create meaningful and prosperous businesses. Grab your FREE copy of the special report ‘7 Steps to Attract More Clients in Less Time’ plus business building tips, at: https://www.fireflycoaching.com.
How do you ask for referrals? Share your thoughts and questions on this topic in the comments section below.
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Thank you so much for this, Stephanie. This is great advice. I was brought up to not ask for things as it’s rude at best and dangerous at worst. It’s very hard to overcome that idea, but your suggestions are practical and have given me some ideas. Thank you!
Many thanks for sharing, Zee. You’re right, it is hard to shift your thinking about ideas that were ingrained in you as a child.
The truth is, most people really do want to support you and are happy to do so.
Of course there will be some people who say no or don’t respond (which you can choose not to take personally). And a great thing to remember about that is the saying, “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”
Thank you, Stephanie. I appreciate you understanding. Sometimes people think I’m just being lazy and I’m like, no, this is just really difficult for me!
That’s an excellent point about the default answer being no. Definitely something to think about. Thank you for replying and hope you have a great weekend.
(And I now realise my original comment about asking being dangerous sounds far darker than intended! It was more that it attracted attention than anything else.)
Making a big shift in the way you view the work is difficult and had nothing to do with being lazy.
One resource that I’ve found to be extremely helpful in investigating stressful thoughts it ‘The Work’ of Byron Katie. You can get a free excerpt of her book and a worksheet on her website if you want to check it out: http://thework.com/tools-do-work.
And I got what you meant about ‘dangerous.’ Thank you for your warm wishes, enjoy your weekend as well!