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 be 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?
Referrals will come when you offer the client a simple and fast way to do it. For example, offer a discount or money off the next purchase for your client and their referral.
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? Never put your customer on the spot just incentivise them to refer you to their network of friends, colleagues and associates.
Referrals are about trust, so how they’re actioned is important. Privacy must be a priority, therefore, don’t expect anyone to give you names and contact details of people they know. Encourage positive feedback from your customers and suggest they share their favourable experience online.
Also, there is no such thing as free. Referrals are a reciprocal like any good turn. If you are expecting other people to refer your business then you had better be prepared to reciprocate and it might not be like for like. For example, while your customer may like and add a comment on Facebook regarding their dealings with your business, you may required to provide support in a fundraising initiative or a similar event.
Is there such a thing as a ‘professional referrer’?
If not, you could be onto something. There are professional witnesses so why not professional referrers? The secret to being able to provide first-class referrals is first sampling what the business has to offer. Then assess and analyze your experience with their product and service. Maybe have your own star rating system from 1 – 5 with 1 being unacceptable to 5 top-notch.
Another reason going through this exercise is you can get a good idea of how your own business performs and what the customer’s experience.
In summary, referrals should be part of the marketing mix but tread carefully on how you go about getting them. Referral business is a fast track to securing new customers.
There are other strategies for growing your sales pipeline including Google reviews.