If it’s no secret that referrals are among the top ways companies get leads and new business, then why do so many struggle when it comes to getting them? We know our buyers rely on colleagues, associates, and friends to recommend providers. And we know when a prospect comes to us via this route that some of our work is already done for us. After all, a referral comes with some pre-selling done, since a certain amount of trust and credibility comes along with it.
Are you doing what it takes to generate quality referrals?
While most professionals recognize this, they don’t effectively tap into their networks to proactively generate sales referrals.
Create Your Own Sales Referral System:
Start getting quality referrals using these tips (in no particular order):
- Create a referral program with complementary providers to exchange referrals. Be sure you only include providers in this network that you’d be comfortable recommending to your best client or best friend.
- Recognize and thank your referral sources. This could be with a simple phone call, email, or-even better-a handwritten note. The important thing is to express your appreciation. You’ll also encourage additional referrals this way.
- If you have clients who don’t refer, create another way for them to recommend you (e.g., case study, testimonial). I once worked for a large organization that prohibited written testimonials and discouraged referrals; however, I was able to provide recommendations by phone for vendors with which I worked. Two vendors I worked with took advantage of this opportunity and closed several deals by having select high-value prospects speak with me.
- Include a “Referrals Appreciated” blurb in your print or email newsletter. Be sure to describe what an ideal referral looks like for you.
- Also in your email newsletter, include a request: “If you got value from this article, please share it with your network (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).” Add icons and links that make it easy to share content.
- Add to your email signature: Referrals Appreciated.
- Add a “referrals appreciated” tagline or “By Referral Only” to your business card.
- Make sure your current clients know about all the products and services you offer and how you help so they can either refer within their company or to others they know. Too often sellers assume their clients know more about them than they do. If you’re a market research firm and a client uses only your online survey research services, for example, make sure they know about your intercept interview service or focus group capabilities.
- Add a link to a form on your website for referral submissions.
- Proactively refer people to other businesses that have a clientele similar to yours. Let those businesses know you’ve done so and that you’d appreciate the same.