Business owners are oftentimes very pro-active when it comes to marketing. They want to get their message out there, after all! Why then, do many of these exact same businesses leave easy money right there on the table?
What I am talking about is how many salespeople do NOT ask every single customer for a referral.
The truth is, many people have a fear of rejection. You don’t want to have a great experience with a customer and then have to ask them to send their friends your way. Some people worry that it sounds like an act of desperation, while others just feel uncomfortable asking for any sort of sale. The good news is, not only do referrals give you some of the easiest sales to close, they also can continue a web of referrals coming your way. Figuring out a strategy for referrals and sticking to it can be one of the most rewarding things you decide to do for yourself in 2014.
Here are some ideas on how to get started:
- Just ask: One way you can ask for a referral is to wait until a sale is closed, and you are at the point of thanking your customer. You could thank them for their business, and add in something like, “I also wanted to mention that we get the majority of our business from referrals. If you were happy with the services we provided to you today, please pass my card along to someone who it may help.” Of course if you would feel more comfortable discussing this DURING the sale, you can do that too. If someone compliments your work at any time, you can always thank them and ask, “Do you know anyone else who might benefit from my services?”
- Referral Incentives: Many companies will include an incentive to anyone who gives a referral that results in a sale. For example, in the car business many salespeople will have something like this written on the back of their card: “Refer this card to a friend and if they buy a car, we will give you $100.00!” Depending on the product or service you offer, you may want to do this to a smaller scale. It could be something like, “Refer a friend and save the tax on your next purchase!” This is a great way to not only get a NEW referral, but to bring old customers back over and over again.
- Write it down: No seriously, write it down! Put it on your receipt, on the back of your business card, on your website, or even on a thank you card – Wherever you feel that clients will notice it best. Try writing something along the lines of, “The best compliment you can give our business is a referral to friends and family.”
- Be the salesman: While asking for referrals is extremely important, don’t forget the importance of GIVING referrals as well. If your customer has to postpone an appointment due to vehicle issues, and you have a fantastic mechanic, have your client write down their number and tell them to let the mechanic know you sent them. Having that giving mindset not only helps other businesses that you trust, but that referral will always find a way to come back to you.
Now that you have some ideas on how to ask for a referral, let’s talk about why they work. The best way to do this is to take a look at the whole process from the perspective of a customer. If I am in the market for a new house and my friend recommends a wonderful realtor to me, I am going to feel a sense of confidence in this realtor before we even meet. I trust my friend’s advice, and if my friend trusts this person, chances are so will I. And here’s another question; Would I have ever found that realtor without my friend’s recommendation? Maybe, but those chances are slim where there are hundreds of people in the area who do the exact same job. See how easily the referral process can set you apart from your competition?
So we have come to the conclusion that referrals definitely help us make more money, because we have more people coming in the door. Now, let’s look at another way they can bring in the bling: VALUE.
Ask yourself; would you be willing to pay a bit more for someone to do a FANTASTIC job, versus an average job? I’m not suggesting you raise your prices and rip off your customer. I’m suggesting that if my friend refers an amazing realtor, and I truly feel that I can trust them, I will place a higher value on their work. Why? Because I am confident that the job will be done right the first time. What does that mean? It means that you, my friend, are worth more than you think (And of course you are! After all, someone recommended you to a friend!).
So I challenge each and every one of you to take this article as an opportunity. Why not have a look at your current business cards, and leave a spot on the back for someone to add a referral? Why not take a list of your past clients, and give them a call? Ask them if they are happy with the products or services you provided them. If they are, ask for the referral. If they aren’t, figure out where things went wrong, help them with their concerns, then ask for the referral. Not only do customers truly appreciate you going that extra mile, but it is going to make them WANT to send their friends to you. If you ask for a referral from 10 customers today, you have just sent 10 salespeople on a mission to find you business. And the best part? All it cost you was the great customer service you offer to your customers anyway! Keep up the good work, champ!
Written by Michelle Breau