So let’s say you run a really good business and you already get a bunch of referrals from your clients because they really like you.
A lot of good businesses operate that way, so this may come as a surprise to you, but… that’s not an actual strategy.
A “word of mouth” business is a good start, but it’s not strategic until you’ve tested and measured how, when and whom to ask, and get consistent, predictable results.
The good news is, if you’re already earning referrals, you’re probably just a few steps away from systemizing the strategy to multiply your results.
Step 1: Identify Sources
First, let’s look at your referral sources. Analyze who in and around your business has the opportunity to send referrals. Make a list of at least 10 categories of sources, including: past clients, current clients, suppliers, and other industries (or centers of influence) that serve the same target audience in a non-competitive way.
Next to each source category, list 4-5 specific individuals or companies, giving you a list of 40-50 potential referral sources.
Step 2: Get Specific
As Dr. Ivan Misner teaches, when you say “anyone” people think of “no one.” So be specific in your request.
One way to do this is to create a list of 10 different, “Who do you know who…” questions.
This is a specific way that you can ask for a referral that’s clearer, and more comfortable than just saying, “Do you know anyone who could benefit from our services?”
For example, if you ran a martial arts studio, you might ask one of your members, “Hey, who do you know who’s a really outgoing person and would prefer to work out in a group where they can make friends, rather than working out by themselves at the gym?”
By painting a picture of the type of referral you’re looking for, it’s more likely that a specific person will come to their mind that they otherwise wouldn’t have thought of if you had just said, “Hey, can you bring a friend along?”
Step 3: Don’t Say ‘Thank You’ After You Make the Sale
That’s right, this is something not to do.
I think the #1 mistake in developing a referral strategy is waiting until after the sale to thank the referrer. Or worse, to require multiple sales in order to earn a special prize.
The highest compliment somebody can pay you is to put their name to yours and give you or your business a referral. ß Make this a call-out quote
It’s not up to them to make the sale – that’s on you.
The referring party has already done their job and need to be thanked or acknowledged, regardless of whether the referral closes.
Now, there are times it makes sense to offer a larger referral reward after a sale has been made (within ethical standards for your industry), but that shouldn’t be the first time they feel your sincere appreciation.
Oftentimes, the most valuable and memorable thing is taking the time to send a hand written, personal thank you note. Maybe with a gift certificate to their favorite coffee shop, or another small token of appreciation.
That one thing that they weren’t expecting actually goes a lot further in the relationship than offering something larger that they felt like they had to earn.
Acknowledge and reward them for their trust in you – not just for adding to your bottom line.
The Result: From “Word of Mouth” to “Raving Fans”
Properly thanking people is the best way to fast track somebody from being a passive, “word of mouth” supporter, to being a raving fan.
So, get started on contacting those referral sources. Call them up, take them to lunch, have a great conversation, and ask specifically for your referral.
P.S. Oh, by the way, who do you know who runs a business and is working on building up a leadership team to help take their business to the next level?
(See what I did there?)