Ask! At the conclusion of a meeting, never pass up the opportunity to ask a customer if they can refer you to somebody else. Furthermore, don’t hesitate to request that they contact that person to introduce you. Too many times we only ask for referrals from a customer when things are going well. The result of this type of behavior is a missed chance to maximize the number of future opportunities you may have. It is imperative that anytime you have a conversation with a customer, you ask for a lead. Don’t wait until they have placed an order with you.
On an existing customer’s anniversary or birthday, be sure to send them a celebratory card or note of some type. At the bottom of it, add a hand-written message such as, “It’s always a pleasure to serve you! If you know of others like yourself who might benefit from my services, feel free to let me know.”
Whenever someone gives you a referral, be sure and keep them updated of your progress with that person. A phone call is always an appropriate means of saying thanks. You can even take it a step further by acknowledging their recommendation to you with a gift card of some type. The value is not as important as the gesture. Clients will be especially appreciative if your thank you is based solely on their “opening the door” for you, even if the referral does not ultimately become a customer.
In addition, it’s important to establish a pattern of providing referrals to others. If you expect your customers to offer you referrals, then you need to willingly provide them with leads. Because it’s easy to become focused on generating our own referrals, make it a habit of providing a specific number of leads to others each week, month, etc. However, do not expect each referral you give to result in one coming back to you. If you do, you’ll never master the referral process. Remember that, in time, you will create an additional stream of referrals.
It is very important to immediately follow up with any lead that is given to you, no matter how insignificant it might seem. We often pass judgment as to the quality of the lead even before we’ve contacted them. Understand that the value of the lead is actually in our ability to demonstrate to the “giver” the importance you place on referrals. When they see this, they will many times respond by delivering even better ones to you.
Set a goal for yourself regarding the number of referrals you expect to generate each week, month, etc. When you do so, you’ll be amazed with results, as you will build your time around achieving the goal.
Develop relationships with people who are both influential and come in contact with a number of other people because they are the type who are most likely to generate contacts. However, when developing the relationship with them, remember that it is not all about you. Rather, it’s all about how you can first help the other person.
Create a “referral month”. Take one month each year when you blitz everybody in your contact list, asking them first how you can help them succeed in their business, goals, etc., and then requesting referrals. A great approach in doing this is to ask for a detailed explanation of their job description and how you might be able to provide referrals to them. Of course, the key is following through and providing these people with leads.
A great resource for referrals is small business owners. They are generally very sensitive as to how leads can impact a business. Remember, however, that referrals go both ways.
Whenever you are meeting with a customer to update their information, be sure to ask them if they know of others in a similar situation to theirs. Naturally they will, so it’s appropriate to infer that the prospect could benefit from your services in the same way.
Seek out the ability to provide others with referrals who are not expecting them. When you meet somebody at a school meeting, or a neighborhood gathering provide people you meet in these types of non-business events with referrals. People who receive referrals from an event like this will automatically become sensitive to the person who gave them the referral.
Become a person of influence, people who have the ability to influence become people others want to connect with and thus become very receptive to receiving and giving referrals.
Thank you notes and other hand-written letters of expression are a great way to stay in contact with others and they’re a great tool that allows others know you’re thinking of them. More importantly by taking the time to write people hand-written notes saying thanks will shape your own attitude and make yourself even more giving.