Your clients love you, right? They rate you highly on their net promoter score survey. They act as references. They provide testimonials. So why don’t all their business partners and colleagues know about you and the great work your company does for them? Why aren’t the referrals flooding in?
Referrals are one of the best ways to get more leads.
When one business owner asks another for a referral to a trusted provider, the new prospect is better qualified than a cold call lead. The referred prospect is further along in their buying cycle. They’ve identified their needs, and they’re looking for the right provider.
Referrals also make easier sales as you don’t encounter the same level of competition as you would with Google searches and AdWords. You’ve been referred by someone who knows you, trusts you and values the services you offer. Your new prospect has a different level of confidence in you – all because you were referred.
Many companies forget the value of their referrals
Every company we talk with about their lead generation strategy acknowledges that their business has grown as a result of referrals. For many of them, referrals are still their No. 1 lead generation strategy because they haven’t figured out how to expand their lead generation. Business owners know that referrals are valuable, but they don’t have a repeatable process to ask for referrals.
Referrals are one of your best sources of leads. They come from someone who loves your work and knows someone who needs services like you offer. So why aren’t you getting more?
Because you didn’t ask. And if you don’t ask for referrals, you’re leaving money on the table.
How to ask for referrals
Don’t wait around for clients to suddenly think about referring you. Your clients aren’t as likely to remember. You should be asking for referrals consistently, and absolutely not less than twice a year – ideally at least four times per year.
To get referrals, build it into your sales and account management processes.
When we’re running lead generation campaigns for clients, we build asking for referrals into every campaign. When we build a sales strategy with clients, we build asking for referrals into key points in the prospecting, sales and account management process. You want to do the same to be consistent about asking for referrals.
When to ask for referrals
Your consistency is key to keeping you top-of-mind with your clients and making it more likely that they’ll refer you. As you create your referral process, plan when to ask for referrals. Here are three key times:
- During business review meetings. By asking every time you have a quarterly or semi-annual business review meeting, you get customers in the habit of thinking about people they can refer you to. Even if they don’t have someone to refer you to when you ask, it keeps you, and your desire to meet more people, on their mind.
- After a customer satisfaction survey. Clients who are happiest with you – and have just acknowledged that – are far more likely to refer you to someone. Plan to ask those delighted customers for referrals to others who would value working with you.
- After you’ve solved a customer satisfaction issue. I’ve read research citing that a client who had a problem that was resolved is greater than 90% likely to buy from you again. Those clients are thrilled that you solved their problems, and while they may not have someone in mind immediately when you ask, it gets them thinking about it and they may have someone come to mind later.
When you make referral gathering a part of your company culture and part of your sales processes, your sales and services teams will become more comfortable asking for referrals. With consistency, you can create a consistent stream of qualified prospects that are much more likely to buy from you – and stop leaving that money on the table.
If you don’t have referral gathering built into your lead generation, sales and account management process, we can help you do that. If that’s something we should be working on together, contact us and let’s talk about it.