There’s a type of warm marketing that is better than any other: referrals. We’ve all been on the receiving end of a referral. We ask a friend or colleague to recommend someone for the service we need, and since they’re someone we trust, we go ahead and get in touch. In fact, we sometimes trust who we received the referral from so much that we don’t even need to evaluate other choices. We make the hiring or purchasing decision.
The research bears this out. Nielsen reported that people are four times more likely to hire someone that came recommended, and that includes social media referrals. (The exact statistic is that 43 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when they heard about it from their friends via social media.) Given that referrals weigh so heavily in the minds of prospects, here are some ways you can garner more of them so that you can continue to extend your network of clients outward.
1. Prioritize customer service
Put very simply: Your customers and clients will refer you if you consistently do a stellar job. Your performance is what will keep you and your company top of mind when they are asked for recommendations. As far as how to do this, you can put your own spin on what you offer to be over the top in your service, but having top-of-the-line customer service is always paramount and should never be compromised. Shawn Henry, the founder and CEO of Efficient Home Services, scaled his business from $5,000 in initial cash to more than $63 million in six years, reflecting that providing the best possible customer service was critical for his acceleration in revenue and customers.
“You need to operate with urgency every single day in your business and never stop striving to give your customers the very best experience possible,” Henry shares. “My entire business has been scaled through these referrals because of this urgency mindset.” Apply this urgency to your relationship with each of your clients and customers, and always aim to do more than is expected.
2. Create a referral program
Additionally, you can incentivize referrals from your current customer base so that they come in more quickly. For example: Perhaps one of your clients would love to refer you to one of their friends or colleagues, but they just haven’t been asked for a recommendation for exactly what you offer. A referral program encourages them to recommend your products and services on your behalf, and they can gain something in the process.
You can offer whatever incentive you prefer, such as a free month’s subscription to your service or a 15 percent off discount per person referred. Make sure that you have a way to track these referrals so you can thank the client when they come in, and ensure that they get their incentive. This can be done by simply asking a new customer or client how they heard about you and keeping a tracking spreadsheet of how many referrals came from whom. People want to feel appreciated, so you can also go the extra mile by sending a handwritten thank-you note or even just a quick thank-you email every time one of these referrals comes through.
3. Simply ask
If it doesn’t seem on brand to come up with a detailed referral program, consider just asking! When on the phone with a client or customer that you get along well with, say, “We are always looking for more clients, and your referrals would be very appreciated.” Letting them know that it’s something you are open to and looking for will help you stay top of mind. This ties in with stellar customer service (or just the service itself). If someone has truly enjoyed working with you, it’s human nature to want to help.
This tip can extend to your past client and other colleagues you have in the industry. Since you aren’t offering an incentive like a discount, anyone is fair game. Simply ask if they know anyone looking for the services that you offer. They may even think of someone right on the spot. If you don’t ask, you don’t receive, and there are many ways to ask kindly and quickly to see if it’s a fit.
Referrals are too valuable to leave up to chance. The best in the business get noticed and recommended because they’re the best and because they’re not afraid to spread the word.