You provide a great product with great service, you fastidiously call upon your clients within 3 months, updating them with changes or additions to your product ranges, you fix any issues promptly and when you catch up with your customer they are always happy. Why bother going to such lengths? Other than generating a great image for your business you do this to ensure a steady stream of referrals.
Your customers can been your biggest ambassadors for your business, by providing them with a great product / service consistently they will rave about to others in their circles. A good quality referral generally will take less time and effort for your business to sell its product / service because a good quality referral will have already been primed by your customer. Without your customers spreading the word about how good your product / service is, you will ultimately have to spend more to get that very same message to the market.
So when is a good time to ask for the referral? To be perfectly honest if you do your job right I believe you won’t have to ask for a referral they will come by free will of the customer (I’m sure there are some that disagree with this statement, if so, feel free to leave your comments!!). One of the biggest mistakes sales professionals make as part of their overall sales cycle is pushing their client for that valuable referral, how many times have you been pushed by an insurance / pension broker to give you that referral and you clam up? In my experience more often than not, yet I will not hesitate to pass on the details of someone I have dealt with in the past if I think I can help a friend / colleague out.
It’s a Two Way Process
Referrals are about trust, people are highly unlikely to pass another’s details on unless they are absolutely confident in the product/service, absolute confidence in the person and absolute confidence in the after care service and all this takes time. By the shear nature of the referral, when one is given it is by far the most powerful way of selling your services because it is backed by the trust of the referee.
Referrals are a two way process, if you are expecting other people to refer you business then you had better be prepared to refer business back, so how do you go about this?
My personal view on this is; I have knowledge about a person or business that will help a friend or business out, to me giving a referral is easy because I am helping someone over come a problem that they have (not too far removed from my daily job!!). By asking others to refer business to you, do not put yourself under pressure to refer regular business back, they will appreciate one or two great referrals a year as opposed to one or two a month that go nowhere!!
The secret to being able to provide great referrals is taking the time to understand the business you will be referring and ensuring that you properly qualify the people you are talking to, listen for cues in conversation, tell tale signs they may need that other business’s services. If you are not clear about what cues to look for then ask ” …. when I am talking to another business what type of things will they say that may indicate they need your services?’ if they can’t tell you then you probably wont be able to help them!!
In summary, you look after your customer, they’ll look after you. To look after another business you must trust the business and the person representing that business as well as fully understand what that business does, if you feel confident about handing on the referral chances are it will be good for both parties.