Ask any professional or business owner what their best source of profitable new business is and the answer you’ll almost always get is “referrals”.

Referrals have a lot going for them. They have leverage – the people who refer you are your own little sales force, able to reach far more people than you or your team alone ever could. And referrals bring instant credibility and trust – if you’re recommended to someone by a person they trust, then half the sales battle is won. You don’t have to face the eternal struggle of the salesman trying to convince your prospects that you know what you’re doing and that they can rely on you. They have the word of someone they trust.

But, if your clients are not referring business to you, you may be lacking the credibility, trust and loyalty needed for them to refer you to others. Clients will not always tell you that they do not feel that you are doing a satisfactory job with their business.

It is not very easy to get referrals. The key is to “be referable.” And undoubtedly, the surest way to be worthy of referring is to establish trust and credibility. When clients doubt that you can respond to their requests, or provide the solution to their need, then your chances of getting referrals become nill.

On the issue of TRUST

In the business of referrals, trust is the most important reason a recommendation is made and, conversely, lack of trust the single greatest reason referrals don’t happen. There are countless ways that companies build and break trust with their customers, but most can be summed up with the term “honesty.”

Trust is earned by keeping promises: tangible things like delivering on time, paying bills on time, and honouring guarantees; and less tangible things like authentic marketing messages, caring service, and a culture of respect.

On the other hand, trust is also lost by overpromising. You must know what you are capable of doing and do what you say you are going to do. It sounds so simple, yet it’s the number one reason people lose faith in businesses and in entire industries. Of course, there are two sides to trust. Trust is a quality that must be extended as well as earned. You can see this in the types of employees an organization attracts and develops by trusting their staff to make smart, customer-focused decisions.

And don’t forget to establish CREDIBILITY

Another one of the challenges of targeting prospects is credibility.

If your audience trusts you, you are half way there. Credibility builders include testimonials, endorsements, credentials and other documentation such as licenses, or belonging to an industry organisation. You must produce evidence that you have the knowledge, skills and experience to be worthy of the business customers will give you. These evidences are not easy to achieve – you must work diligently to acquire them. There is no quick way to get these, which is why nothing quite beats the power of a recommendation or referral.